This is the new blog for my new fashion brand, Xander Kostroma.
This is me, and my name is Xander. I am 31 originally from the UK, but now living in Switzerland. It's from here that I do all of the designing and product development for my fashion accessories brand.
It's been a pretty interesting ride as to how I got to this point in my life. If you've followed me from the beginning, you'd know that my first accessories label is called Emi Jewellery and it's where all of this journey started. Emi is basically my baby really.
I started Emi Jewellery in 2009. I have to admit, that when I first started my brand, I was in this weird transitional phase in my life. I was 22 and I was working as a Store Manager for Cancer Research in Neath, Wales, UK. I had completed 2 years of University in a course called Surface Pattern Design where I learnt to basically manipulate fabrics and how to create various textures and "surfaces" using a multitude of techniques. It's a super creative course. As luck would have it, Swansea (my home town) happened to have one of the top 10 lecturers in the UK for this type of course and luckily for me, I got taught by her. I knew that I wanted to have my own brand, but I didn't really have the confidence to say: "hello! This is me Xander, and this is brand". I knew who my target customers were and I had this idea for a vegan fashion accessories label in mind. After feeling inspired from when I went travelling in Asia ...Emi (meaning beautiful or smile in Japanese) was born.
Emi grew steadily over the years until it eventually became my full time job. I managed to leave working at my Head Office corporate job to venture out on my own in 2014. I had a few big orders along the way and started to supply some pretty big accounts in the UK including: Freemans.com and Silkfred.com (who I still supply to this day). I moved from Wales to England and in 2012 I ended up emigrating out of the UK. I live in the Italian speaking canton called Ticino where I design and develop my collections for both of my brands. The warehouse is back in Wales where we ship all of our orders to our customers from there.
One big lesson I learnt in 2017, and moreover, as it spilled over into 2018 is Trademarking.
OMG. If you want to start your own brand, the FIRST thing you need to do is to get your name registered. Please just do that. Just get it trademarked and get it protected...because yup, as you guessed it, I didn't do this at the beginning.
OK - you're probably thinking, "oh but it's expensive", to which I will respond, "it is, but it is nothing compared to what the trademark fees could end up being". You need to take my word on this. In 2017 I had to take the heavy decision to hire a solicitor to help me to protect my brand name and to protect my company. I had no idea of what laid ahead of me from this one pretty big oversight almost 10 years ago!
For fear of losing my "Emi" brand, I took the decision to trademark my own name. It was at this point where I had to really prove, in a sense, who I am. It wasn't a decision that came to me with much resistance. After receiving news from the solicitors about Emi, I thought OK what can I do right NOW. What can I do in this moment?
I sat down and thought about who am I? What is it that I stand for? ...and what type of products do I want to create? I mapped out a few things and from that point, my brand, Xander Kostroma was born.
I've been reading a book called "A return to love - reflections on the principles of a course in miracles" by Marianne Williamson. Now, before you start thinking, oh God, where is he going with this...? One poignant thing that I took away from reading that book is that from whatever place I came from in my life, be it work, my love life, friendship anything... it needed to come from a place of love.
To create a brand under my own name came naturally to me. It didn't take long for me to decide on the route to take. This brand instead of creating an idea for the background story of the brand, the brand had to be ME. This time it was different.
Abraham Hicks says, what is the path of least resistance in this moment? It was me. I thought about what Marianne taught me, she said "think of your business (or any other part of your life) as a service to others". Marianne reminds me: what is the type of service that I am offering to my clients?
If you're thinking about something, and you're coming from anything other than a place of love, then this way of thinking is fundamentally wrong. Your intentions need to be meaningful. You need to be mindful, like the Japanese teach. We need to be mindful of the effect that we have on others that directly results from our actions. Trying to make a quick buck by cutting corners with quality, not paying staff or outside contractors honestly or overpricing goods are all perfect examples of bad intentions. Its sad to say that, I have actually witnessed all of these whilst working in fashion. It's not a good place to be vibrating from.
Our actions have to come from a place of love.
After coffee, a few presentation meetings and some emails back and forth to confirm a few things, I got my new brand accepted into the stores in the UK and my new brand was launched. Xander Kostroma was approved.
A slight side-step - speaking of approved, my company Xander Kostroma Fashion Ltd was approved as a Vegan organisation by PETA meaning that throughout my business, not just my Xander Kostroma fashion line, but ALL the brands that I work with in my company are vegan approved. We do not use animal products or anything derived from animals in the merchandise that we produce. I voluntarily signed up my company to The Living Wage Foundation meaning that I recognise the need to pay more than the minimum wage to my employees and I have legally entered into an agreement to stick to what I say. Fashion can be cruel and I wanted nothing to do with this notion.
For my FW18 collection, I teamed up with the buyers and the stylists at Lookagain.co.uk where they shot a few styles of my earrings in-house at their HQ in Bradford.
I wanted to show how the same pair of earrings can be worn in 3 different ways. It just takes a tweak of the styling and you're set. "Buy less, think more".
So looking at these cute "Half Circle Drop Earrings" I wanted to show how the same pair of earrings can be worn in 3 different ways.
Casual - a slouchy sweater and some tailored pants. I really love this look. I think the batwing sleeves on the jumper add a touch of fun to the outfit and the small chequered pants in contrasting grey add a some interest. The earrings add movement with the hair pulled back off the face and a lovely shade of lippy.
Ladies who lunch - I thought this jumpsuit was a great alternative to the LBD when going out for lunch. The look is cool and fashion-forward, and is a unique twist on a classic style. She could go from an office meeting and straight out to lunch with her girls in this look and she looks just great.
Glammed up - A shorter dress with a little lace detailing at the back worn with the hair down creates this sophisticated look. The earrings give an element of fun to the dress keeping it young and flirty while connecting it back to nature with the exposed wood in the design.
I love the idea that my pieces can be mixed and matched together. I don't want my customers to invest into 100's of pieces each season. I want you to invest into a select few styles that can work for you in a multitude of ways, exactly how you like to style them. Buy one pair of earrings and use them again and again.