How to succeed as an independent fashion designer from Sara Sboul

Caressing pink fur, crayola crochet, and kitschy patches I had to know who made these adorable bags. With cute anime eyes looking up at me it was as if being surrounded by cartoon friends. First heard about Sara Sboul, through London fashion designer Clio Peppiatt during London Fashion Week. "Sara is great! She made all of these for LFW!" I finally met her after featuring one of Sara Sboul's bags in Reflekt Issue 12. The stylist we worked with (Liv Keelor) raved about Sara. "You will love her. You have to talk to her!" And so I did. Walking through a quiet green garden towards Sara's cottage like studio, I entered a cozy room filled with twinkling christmas lights, multicolored sewing patterns hanging above and Sara's cartoon bags everywhere. 

After talking to her, we immediately bonded over the trials and tribulations of fashion school, cute anime, and what it really takes to be an independent fashion designer and your own girl boss. Despite her beloved bags being arm candy to global fashion influencers, the Japanese fashion world, and featured in numerous fashion magazines, Sara just like the rest of the us still has struggles and is one of the few people I know who refuses to sugarcoat what it's like. Here the real, the enlightening, and inspiring advice you need.

Why did you drop out of fashion school?

I don't think I even wanted to study fashion design I just needed the student loan grant and bank loans , it is the easiest way to move to London, the banks and government throw just the right amount of money your way no questions asked.

What keeps your drive going?

My friends spur me on, my boyfriend does the complete opposite so then I'm right back to at step 1 , I'm surprised I've got as far as I have.

Do you feel it’s easier moving in the fashion industry with a self taught education compared to formal training?

I’m not sure, if you’re trained you have a platform to show off  and that’s cool but if you’re self taught you carve your own path and meet really interesting people. I think they are two very different ways and both have their own perks.

What are some things that you learned on the go?

To be cynical lol! I hate that about myself, but always think that everyone’s out for themselves and will screw you first and foremost because they usually are, and then when you meet a wonderful person to collaborate with like Esther loves you, it’s a wonderful perk!!

A Sara Sboul bag shot for Issue º12 editorial 'Culture Shock'

A Sara Sboul bag shot for Issue º12 editorial 'Culture Shock'

Sarah (middle) with her interns at her cottage studio.

Sarah (middle) with her interns at her cottage studio.

Why did you want to start off doing bags?

I wanted to keep working in fashion but didn't have enough money to make a complete cohesive clothing collection so I thought accessories were a good way around this, a shoo-in I guess, after doing it for a bit I learnt that it’s a good earner, people are more inclined to purchase pieces online because there’s no need to try it on and it’s less of a risk, and I've never looked back.

How do you feel about the politics and favoritism in fashion?

It’s a great topic to gossip and laugh about with close friends you know won't rat you out, but I think you have to keep your mouth shut when you’re not at waggas with meera and ciara! If you’re not one of the teacher’s pets then you’re probably real sweet and a sensitive soul.  

Were you afraid pursuing your own handbag line?

No, I had nothing to lose I was already disowned by my university, people had no clue who the hell I was, and didn’t care about the shit I was making, it’s a great place to start, people only think you’re gonna fail so if you do a little better than that it can make you smile, the smallest things cheer me up! I'm really easy to please.

If you could live in a movie which one would it be?

This is gonna be so obvs but Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki

Who is the ideal girl who would be wearing your bags?

Easy! Elizabeth Ammerman from ammermanschlosberg. She’s so cool!

What’s the worst and best piece of advice someone has given you?

Best advice: little snippets of the koran that my dad tells me, one being (in a simplified form) is to not tell people if a little bit of success come your way, the reason behind this being that people covet things and you will lose them- lol evil eye stuff.

Worst advice: everything I was told at school! lol

What inspires you?

I like to make bags that I would wear myself and the I just hope that other people will also enjoy wearing them, it’s pretty hit and miss. I don't really have a theme/inspiration board for each season , I keep drawing and watch a movie and pick things up here and there. I'm learning what styles people really warm too and I'm just working on making smaller and stronger collections.

What is the best and worst aspects of being an independent designer?

It gets lonely, even when you have interns in the studio at all hours ,it’s quite lonely and you sacrifice a lot especially when your work is laborious. The best aspects always outweigh the worst long nights though.

What is your advice for someone who wants to be a designer?

I don't think I have enough experience to give advice, figure it out on your own?...That’s too mean isn't it?