Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies
Interview with Teena Hughes - silk designer
Teena Hughes is a textile artist and entrepreneur from Sydney Australia. She currently highlights her fashions and many Sydney businesses on her site: Abfab Wearable Art. Teena's creations consist of cotton and silk hand painted clothing, paintings and wall hangings. Best of all the sizing of her clothing ranges from 12 "to gorgeous goddesses", size 28.
Moe: How did you become a silk designer? What attracted you to this medium?
Teena Hughes: Ah, would you like the long or the short story? In the 80's I was living in Paris [with my boyfriend at the time who was a silk artist], and the day I had my first attempt at painting on silk I fell in love - I knew this was what I'd been searching for all my life! The way the colors flowed so easily off the soft brushes onto the silk tightly stretched onto wooden frames, to see the designs come alive and the colors bursting with vibrant hues and shades ... *this* is what I wanted to do! I have been painting on silk ever since, and progressed from silk cards and scarves, to clothing, wall hangings and paintings. I was immediately drawn to silk painting by the stunning colors, the possibilities, the fact that I could now draw and paint and create a piece of wearable art ... something unique and beautiful.
Moe: Were you an artist already?
Teena Hughes: I have always been able to draw, always had a flair for sketching, but painting on silk was like nothing I had ever tried. I had studied oil painting on canvas so I was totally unprepared for the amazing ease of painting on silk.
Moe: You draw your inspiration from many places: people, ethnic clothing and nature. How long before the inspiration hits until the final product?
Teena Hughes: In some cases, inspiration to final product can be the same day! But if I can't get to my paints in a hurry, I draw sketches and make notes in a small spiral notebook I keep in my handbag. Sometimes I might not make a note, but then months later I'll be flicking through a magazine or see something on TV which reminds me ... and I'll sketch it straight away while it's fresh.
I'm fascinated not just by the colors of different ethnic textiles, but the actual shapes of the clothing, like the Japanese kimono and the African square cloth which has a hole in the center for the head to go through. Inspiration comes from so many things, from the particular shade blue of the tropical sky to the red earth tones of Aboriginal paintings, the adobe homes in New Mexico... I am touched by so many things, and I feel blessed to be so wondrous and child-like in my enthusiasm still!
Moe: The line you offer is for plus size bodies, why did you choose this market?
Teena Hughes: As a Gorgeous Goddess size myself; I wanted other women to be able to buy beautiful clothes in large and lovely sizes. In our society we are inundated with advertising for stick-thin figures - unrealistic figures - and many women are disappointed and depressed when they can't buy something which is attractive and which looks flattering on them.
Who hasn't been to a store and looked at larger sizes only to be saddened by all the navy, brown and black clothing? And why do manufacturers insist on making skinny clothes just *wider* and think that will be flattering to goddesses? They need designers who know how to create designs which flatter large-and-lovelies, not make them look ridiculous or drab and dowdy.
So I started painting pieces of silk and then cutting them into shapes which were easy to sew together ... and voila! I'm still painting, cutting and sewing!
I also wanted to provide gorgeous clothing for pregnant women, in a world where it was hard to find many nice maternity clothes. Luckily this has now improved greatly.
My original plan was to make one-size-really-fits-many women, and my handpainted silk coats fit approximately size 12-28 as well as pregnant women of all sizes. I don't discriminate against women who wear smaller sizes.
One of the fabrics I use is crinkle silk chiffon which is fantastic - when it is first washed and dried, it wrinkles and crinkles and shrinks to becomes a size 10-12. When the silk is ironed, it becomes a size 26-28. For example, if you choose to iron only part of the sleeves, they will only be as long as you wish. If you don't iron them, they will stay crinkled to a shorter length. I find this is extremely versatile and it works well for so many women!
Moe: You're your own boss. How do you like that? Was it scary for you to venture into the world of entrepreneurs?
Teena Hughes: I love being my own boss! I am lucky that I am a silk artist/textile designer as well as a "techie girl", so I have two businesses running side by side. Over the years I have learnt so much from so many in regards to business, so when I started selling some of my handpainted silk designs, I was still working full time in the computer industry. When I had the opportunity to do contract computer work part-time, it fit perfectly with painting on silk part-time.
Of course it was scary when I first tried to create an income from both silk and computers, but I'm a natural at networking, and it didn't take too long before I was teaching classes - silk and computers, selling my wearable art, and working on computer projects... all at once. When I learnt more about pricing my products and services and tracking all the financials, I finally felt "grown up" enough to call myself a businesswoman (and an entrepreneur!) On some days I still tell my friends I haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up!
I became passionate about learning how to run a business, so I now help my own customers set up and get organised in their own small business. I get to pass my knowledge on, and am thrilled to see someone else's dream come to fruition.
Moe: Where did the name Adfab come from?
Teena Hughes: I used to watch the tv show "Absolutely Fabulous!" and loved it's quirkiness so much, that I created my business name to be "Absolutely FAAABulous!", which is shortened to AbFab on my clothing labels and website.
Moe: What advice would like to give other women thinking of starting their own business?
Teena Hughes: My first statement would be, "Do it!" But then the sensible side of me takes over and has to add a few sobering statements. Did you know very few small businesses make it through the first 3 years, and most fail in the first year? It isn't because they didn't have a great idea, it's because they didn't PLAN enough.
You must have a business plan, which is going to be your blueprint for the first few years, which you go back to regularly. Tweak the information and financials to reflect what is actually happening in your business. There are many organizations in many countries, often government-run, who offer free advice and mentoring for small business. Before you do anything, contact these groups and attend their free or inexpensive seminars on what you need to know about getting started. You will find this so valuable. You'll be pleased you took the time to do your research and learnt from those who've done this before.
A tip: Don't keep your business problems to yourself. Discuss them with a mentor or someone in business who might be able to offer wise advice. Don't just ask family and friends. Once you verbalize your concerns, you might be surprised to find that there is an easy solution, and someone with more experience can help you get through the tricky times.
So - the bottom line is, yes! Start your own business! As soon as you have contacted the small business advisory centers in your own towns and cities, and gathered as much information as you possibly can. OK I'll stop nagging now.
Moe: Thank you for your time.
Teena Hughes: Moe, it's been a delight meeting you and your readers. I look forward to hearing from anyone with any questions! And I wish all the Gorgeous Goddesses out there a wonderful life full of adventure, love and fun...
Visit Teena's Ab fab plus size wearables.
Content copyright © 2013 by M. E. Wood. All rights reserved.
This content was written by M. E. Wood. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact M. E. Wood for details.
Website copyright © 2013 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.