I first met Lesley Buchanan, the founder of Freshly Baked Clothing when we worked together in the clothing store Next in Edinburgh. Working part-time and in my final year at university, it was coming close to my graduation ball and I started to think about a dress for the special occasion.
I spotted a photograph on-line (below, left) of a beautiful dress designed by Monique Lhullier, and I just loved the colour and the movement in the dress. I knew straight away that because I had this in mind, I wouldn’t be able to find one similar in the shops and would need to look at getting it personally made. This was when I recalled Lesley mentioning her clothing business she runs from home and I therefore decided to ask her for some help.
After a long discussion, a few fittings and some material shopping, Lesley produced the perfect one-off dress for me in plenty of time for my ball.
It has been over a year now since I graduated and (sadly) left Edinburgh. Recently, I decided to get back in touch with Lesley to find out how her business is doing and what it is that inspires her designs.
Hello Lesley! It has been a while since we last spoke. As you know I was very pleased with my ball gown, and I am now intrigued to find out how your business is coming along. For those that are only being introduced to Freshly Baked, can you describe the brand in a few sentences for me?
Hello, I’m glad you liked it! Well I suppose my sales pitch for the clothing line would be; Freshly Baked is clothing for your true self. Quirky, cool and individual. Cast of the mundane and embrace the unique. Freshly Baked doesn’t shy away from colour, print or style. Be proud to be yourself.
The ‘Akiko’ dress is based on Japanese culture and Pucci prints from the 60’s Cost is £70 including the obi belt.
The ‘Zippo’ skirt was named after the circus due to the bright, fun colours. Cost is £35 and can be made in any fabric. I
Straight to the point then! When was it that you decided to go it alone?
I started Freshly Baked in 2005, just as I was leaving VV Rouleaux and starting work as a Computer Pattern Cutter/Grader at Alexandra Workwear. I take great pride in the fact that I don’t just design the garments but also create them and the patterns too. This is a lot of work but it is also one of the reasons that my garments all have ‘Made In Scotland’ labels inside of them.
A lot of work indeed. What was it that inspired you to start-up a clothing brand?
At college I had gained both my NC and HND in Clothing Technology and Manufacture and went to work for VV Rouleaux, a ribbons and trimmings emporium. At this point I also started working on my own designs and I was lucky to have one of my designs featured in The Herald magazine. Since my work was being noticed, I thought that this was a good time to start-up on my own and fulfil my dream. Having previously worked for a supermarket on the hot food counter, I was always intrigued by the bakery section and the ‘Freshly Baked’ motto. An idea suddenly hit me; if cakes and bread can be ‘freshly baked’ then why not clothing?
That is an interesting concept. Who would you say is your typical target customer?
The people who I like to see wearing my designs are those who aren’t afraid to be themselves and like to express themselves through their clothing and fashion choices. Truthfully, I don’t have a specific age bracket for my designs, as long as you feel comfortable and confident wearing my designs then I’m happy.
The ‘Liesl’ is a blue floral ditsy print dress which is inspired by The Sound of Music; mainly a combination of Liesl’s pink dress and Maria’s blue dress. Cost is £50 and can be made in any fabric. A subcharge of £15 – £25 may be made for a liberty print fabric.
The ‘Hester’ trousers are inspired by the 1940’s wide leg style and have a high, notched waist; spotted on actresses Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Deitrich. Cost is £50 and again can be made in any other fabric.
Who or what is your main source of inspiration for your designs?
I would say that my main source of inspiration is anything, anyone and everything. I can be inspired by a swatch of wallpaper, a blood-red sunset, or a passing image in a magazine or newspaper. Inspiration can strike me at any time and any place. I am also greatly inspired by vintage couture, the 30’s through to the 50’s, and especially Edith Head, the much awarded and revered Hollywood costume designer. I especially adore her work on Hitchcock films such as The Birds with Tippi Hedren, Rear Window with the wonderful Grace Kelly and Marnie, also one of Hedren’s films. Recently I’ve been inspired by romance novel covers and romantic heroines. Cue a lot of damsels in distress, swooning maidens, heaving bosoms and full sweeping skirts!
Grace Kelly in Rear Window
Costume Designer, Edith Head
If you could pick a celebrity to endorse your clothing, who would it be and why?
I would love to see Kat Dennings from Thor and Two Broke Girls in my designs. She has a fabulous figure, all lush curves and a confidence and natural beauty that sets her apart from other girls her age. I also love Jessica Szohr from Gossip Girl as she is absolutely stunning and has a beautiful figure. Jennifer Lawrence is also another pick, as well as Olivia Wilde and Chloe Grace Moretz. All gorgeous girls that I feel embody the Freshly Baked way of life and are full of confidence, joy and individuality. In my designs I aim to promote a healthy, happy body image. Size is not the issue, it’s about how confident you feel and what you feel you can achieve in them.
Chloe Grace Moretz
Well said! These girls most definitely do not lack in beauty! Where do you see Freshly Baked in 5 years time?
In five years time I would love to see my clothing line on the catwalk at any one of the prestigious fashion weeks: London, New York, Paris or Milan. I would like to have an established, well-known and respected label that I would love to see featured in a main publication such as Elle, Cosmopolitan or Vogue. Fame is not important for me but respect and being known as a credible and influential designer is what matters to me. Having a successful and well run business is my main goal.
Aim high – that’s my advice! What advice would you give to someone else hoping to start-up on their own?
I would advise anyone starting up their own business not to give up. You will definitely have days, maybe even weeks or months where you feel that you aren’t getting anywhere, that nothing seems to be working or going right for you, but trust me if you stick at it then you WILL succeed. I’m still going for it after 8 years of trying and I refuse to give up. I know that if I stick at it and work really hard then I will get where I want to be.
Focus on what you want and go for it but never forget to breathe and take some time for yourself. Also, never be afraid to ask for help. Your family and friends will be more than willing to help you should you ever need it. Take enjoyment from the little things that happen, have pride in any and all successes that you will have and take some time to really enjoy what you are doing. As the saying goes, the only person holding you back from success is yourself. So reach for the stars and never look back.
Do you have any other projects on-going at the moment?
I have started work on my second label, Hope Clothing named after my Great Grandmother Hope, and after hope itself. Hope is very different from Freshly Baked, as it is my evening and bridal wear label. Hope has very clean lines, simple styles and the fabrics are more of a feature here. Luscious silks and taffetas, and various colours ranging from the softest pink to the darkest midnight blue. Hope is about having hope and not giving up, revelling in your dreams and aspirations and enjoying life and love.
This 2 piece outfit was inspired by 50’s pin-up girls. The ‘Havana’ top incorporates a California skater girl design and starts at £35. The ‘Anj’ tulip skirt starts at £45 and has become a popular design over the years.
The ‘Jessica’ dress is my demure take on the infamous red dress worn by Jessica Rabbit. Cost is £375 and can be made to measure and in any other colour/fabric. It would look beautiful as a bridal gown with an edge.
I decided to add a second label to my line as I felt that I was trying to do too much in one label. While Freshly Baked is mostly day wear with the occasional evening dress, Hope is mainly special occasion and bridal. The target market for Hope is very much the same as Freshly Baked but obviously this is more aimed at special occasions such as weddings, proms and graduations balls as you know yourself!
I also have plans to add a menswear collection to the line within the next year or so too. I am going to invest in a new sewing machine which will enable me to start working properly with jersey and T-shirts garments. I am hopeful that my designs will be accepted within the fashion industry and that people will find them interesting, enjoyable and most importantly, wearable. There wouldn’t be much point in designing and making garments if no-one wanted to wear them!
Interested in Lesley’s designs? Then get in touch at:
T: 07791 478 660
Follow @FBakedclothing on Twitter
T: 07791 478 660