Fashion Designer | Francia Boakye-Sarpong
Life is all about balance but there are times when you can feel overwhelmed with work or your studies, this can affect your creativity and productivity. This is why it is important to manage your time and prioritise your well-being.
This week I interviewed Francia Boakye-Sarpong, a Designer and the Founder of both New Wine Emporium and the Center of Excellence, Edinburgh. We had a very interesting chat about her inspiring journey from Law to Fashion Design. I learnt a wealth of information, applicable to creatives, business owners, students, basically everyone.
So grab a cup of tea and biscuits and let us get into the interview:
Vicky: How did you get into designing?
Francia: I taught myself how to sew, I also loved making pieces for friends and family but it was just as a hobby. In the last year of my law degree, I enrolled in an evening course called garment construction which later led to my masters in International Fashion Marketing. However, prior to starting the course, I had already created some remarkable pieces. It was like, being a lawyer by day and a fashion designer by night.
After graduating from my law degree, I moved to Edinburgh to embark on a Masters in International Fashion Marketing. Following this, I worked in different sectors with various organisations. Then I realised that it was just not for me. I couldn’t find fulfilment or satisfaction in the things I did. I found myself in a dilemma, I had to financially sustain myself. One evening, I was thinking of my next career move then I looked across the room and saw my sewing machine, in that moment, it clicked. I eventually started making simple bags for my friends, even though they didn’t need one and well, of course, I charged them.
Vicky: General Laughter!!!
Francie: Yes o!!! This is my passion but at the end of the day, you also have to eat. Sometimes we assume that life will go a certain way, graduate, get a job but you may end up trying to find comfort in a place of discomfort all in the name of financial security. My dilemma was a turning point for me, I asked myself, If I ended up myself in a country where I could not find a job, even with all my degrees, what could I do to earn a living? I thought to myself, I have been blessed with a talent to design and make clothes, so I ran with my passion and here I am.
Vicky: How do you make sure your work is distinctive?
Francia: I like this question a lot. You have to know who you are as a brand, what you stand for and know that your work is quality. I do a lot of custom work so my clients come with various ideas but it is important to me that I don’t lose my identity. My creativity and individuality should shine through my work in a way that my clients can smile and say, ” Yes !!! This is Francia’s bowtie”. When you are a person of integrity, it builds trust something very important in business.
Vicky: What keeps you motivated to carry on as a designer?
Francia: Motivation doesn’t come easy, whoever says that it does, tell me what they are on? You really need to be self-disciplined. As a Christian, I pray to God for strength every day. Also, being in the creative industry you have to be in the right frame of mind to able to be creative. Yes, you have to work very hard as a business owner but please don’t burn yourself out because sometimes it hard to get back up from that.
Vicky: So how do you manage your time as a designer and a business owner?
Francia: This is a, “what I wish I knew before I started a business!!!” Well, really you need to be organised. Doing too many things without being organised can be dangerous. Not that you can’t pursue different things successfully but you really need to know how to prioritise. You can keep it up with it for a while until your breakdown because internally it is chaotic. You also need to be prepared for the unexpected, like I previously said, prioritise and make your sure schedule is still flexible.
It is also important to avoid distractions and time wasters. They can come in many forms, it can be toxic relationships or watching too much Nollywood, you know how long our movies can be. To be honest, I don’t think time management is something you can master, as you grow as a person and a brand, you learn how to be more productive.
Vicky: Owning a business can be really stressful, what do you to unwind?
Francia: I walk a lot; I can walk for hours nonstop. I love beautiful scenes by the water because it really clears my head, a lot of the time I don’t even take my phone with me. My long walks are really sacred to me, so if I invite you on one of them, then you must be really special.
Apart from walking, I climb up Arthurs’s Seat regularly and I also listen to relaxing music. I have learnt to take relaxation very seriously; I remember somebody saying to me: “When you sleep you rest the body but when you rest it is for your soul”.
Vicky: What does the term “well-being” mean to you?
Francia: Being well, spiritually, physically, physiologically. Just being well, being in right frame of mind. Healthy, not only on the outside but also internally. One has to be very careful about their thought processes, a lot of the physical starts off in the mind. The bible talks about guarding your heart. When you are running a business you have to avoid anything that will pollute your drive for success. You also need to be careful of the people you welcome into your life, some people around can really pull you down. So eat fruits and have a balanced diet meaning keep good friends around those you can support and those that can support you.
Vicky: Are there any aspects of your time management or your wellbeing you would like to improve on?
Francia: Yes, Sleep!!! My sleep pattern is very strange; I wish that can improve. I also need to delegate a lot more and not carry unnecessary baggage, I cannot do everything myself.
Vicky: Do you have any final words for the readers?
Francia: Yes, dream high, aim high. If you are determined, you can make it happen.
For more details on New Wine Emporium: