In between classes, budding designers Claudia Smith and China White work out new designs for their clothing label Fern Apparel.
In between classes, budding designers Claudia Smith and China White work out new designs for their clothing label Fern Apparel. Patrick Gorbunovs

Sweet success for girls

GETTING an order from Hollywood was the first sign global fashionistas in the making and best friends China White and Claudia Smith were on to something special.

Since launching their found-fabric clothing label Fern Apparel in January this year, the Trinity College Year 11 pair have been moonlighting as fashion designers - and already they've tasted sweet success.

Within days of launching their first limited range, they sold out.

"We were so happy when we saw photos of customers around America wearing it," Claudia said.

The label's origins lay in a fashion design elective course the girls took just two years ago at school, which left them keen to go beyond the theory and into business.

Our age group are looking for something different, and individual I guess

 

"We're best friends so we share the same ideas and thoughts," China said.

Inspired by 1960s fabrics and cuts, the girls' winning product so far is their custom made-to-fit skirts.

"We try to keep it different from the mainstream so we stand out and have a fresh look," China said.

"Our age group are looking for something different, and individual I guess," Claudia said.

While most of their customers are teen and 20- something girls, they also have some male buyers who have obviously developed a taste for their inventive beanies and T-shirts.

Now with orders from Omaha and Los Angeles and Facebook fans across the globe, they're planning for the future.

"We'd like to expand it globally, have more clients and maybe have some of our own stores as well," Claudia said.

But with the business now in growth mode, the girls are staying on their feet to balance school and work.

"Even at lunch times at school we'll be designing stuff on the computers and having little meetings," Claudia said.

"We also do all the advertising ourselves and all the photos and videos, so it's pretty time consuming."

The girls make on average 10 items per piece of fab

ric they manage to scavenge from the region's treasure trove of quality op-shops, then sell it across the globe.

"Online shopping is taking over - we wouldn't have been able to do it without technology, because we couldn't sell overseas."



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