A few months ago, Dale Street in Liverpool (home to the gorgeous Moose café and the inimitable Peaches and Cream salon) welcomed a new house guest… Tanya Maxwell, the flame-haired Irish beauty behind THIRtEEN Fashion. She took her flair for fashion design and built an impressive empire, starting by making Irish dancing costumes for her sister at the tender age of 13 and going on to dress the likes of Chloe Sims from The Only Way is Essex.
Tanya launched THIRtEEN fashion 6 years ago alongside her degree in Clothing, Design and Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University. The line has been stocked in the likes of Liverpool’s famous Cricket boutique and her intimate team of four offers a bespoke dressmaking service as well as ready-to-wear garments. Although her services can usually be booked with a 3 week notice period, busier times such as Ladies Day at Aintree Racecourse can result in high demand periods where as much as 2 months notice is necessary! Telling me all about the brand, Tanya talks sewing machines and NME with me in her usual eclectic style…
For the readers that weren’t fortunate enough to have joined us for cocktails as we celebrated Christmas 2011, remind me about the significance of the name THIRtEEN…
The name THIRtEEN was chosen for a few reasons. My birthday is the 13th, my mum is the 13th child and I got my sewing machine on my 13th birthday!
Do you think THIRtEEN has a signature look or vibe, and, if so, what would you say that is?
I wouldn’t say that we have a signature look as we like to be as wide-ranging as possible, but throughout our collections the signature THIRtEEN dress has consisted of a fitted upper bodice, a synched in waist and skater style skirt with huge underskirt.
Where does your inspiration come from for new collections?
I’m always looking high and low for inspiration for THIRtEEN, whether it be in magazines like Vogue or NME or on TV shows such as the X Factor, The Voice… anywhere! For my collections I like to keep up with what Liverpool girls want but, at the same time, try to put my own twist on it.
Recently your designs have attracted so much press attention from being featured on television stars such as the cast members of Desperate Scousewives and The Only Way is Essex. What does that feel like?
Of course it makes me feel proud when I see my designs in newspapers and televisions, but truth be told I feel equally as proud when one of my girls tags my dress in a Facebook photo before going on a night out with her friends. The publicity has been really good for business as it has projected the brand to a wider audience, especially through the mediums of Twitter and Facebook. We have never had so many customers from Essex, ha-ha!
You used to have a boutique in Quiggins (which houses lots of fashion designers/boutiques) and recently you’ve moved to a shop on Dale St. What are the best and worst things about both locations?
The best thing about being in Quiggins was the community spirit of all the shops in there, but the worst thing for myself was not having the space or environment that I needed to create the boutique I would have liked. The great thing about Dale Street is having the location I’ve always dreamed of (a shop) and, of course, being next door to the most supportive neighbours in the world – Peaches and Cream. The worst thing about being in Dale street is that I have 24 hour access to the shop (unlike Quiggins which would shut at a set time) meaning that I never know when to go home!
As well as stocking your own things, your Dale Street is also home to Minnie Bee, a children’s clothing boutique. What do you look for when sourcing other collections or designers?
The main thing we look for when sourcing our Minnie Bee labels is that we want to be different. Anyone can go to a big chain store and buy designer labels for their little ones; most of the children’s labels we stock are exclusive to us in Liverpool which makes us stand out all the more.
Tanya’s top tips for a successful career in dressmaking:
- Be true to your own style and influences.
- Perfect your pattern cutting skills; if your pattern is wrong, the garment will never be right.
Are you inspired by Tanya’s story or a huge fan of her brand? If so, let her know. She happened to mention that her small team are hoping to expand and suggested that they will do so when they “find the right person”. Who knows, could you be a lucky addition to the number that is unlucky for some – THIRtEEN?
Make sure you check out Tanya’s amazing designs by following her on Twitter and using the link below to visit her Facebook page.
If you feel inspired to go for your dream job after hearing Tanya’s story, remember to read my ‘How to Land Your Dream Internship or Job‘ feature.
More in the Dream Jobs series:
- Dream Jobs – the Festival Fashionista: Sarah Flynn of Phestival
- Dream Jobs – the Jewellery Designer: Sarah Warner of Bits and Bows
- Dream Jobs – the Nail Artist: Scratch Dollface
- Dream Jobs – the Magazine Publisher: Kerry O’Coy of Fused Magazine
- Dream Jobs – the Art Workshop Facilitator: Becky Waite of the Bluecoat Blue Room
- Dream Jobs – the Permanent Makeup Artist: Hayley McCaughran of Blushious Contour
- Graduate Unemployment – Relieve Your Worry!