Have Courage, Be Brave & you can reach the impossible – Katerina Daoulka, Fashion Designer/Stylist by Life Treasure Collector
Katerina Daoulka is a Fashion Designer/Stylist based in Thessaloniki, Greece. She started working in fashion a few years ago when she wanted to make a change in her life and follow her dreams and passion. She opened Atelier Passione that is now located in the high street of the city centre of Thessaloniki. Katerina is a self-created designer and stylist, full of love for what she does. Her clothing collections are modern elegant and stylish.
Talking about her journey so far, Katerina believes that when you love what you do and you never give up, you can reach more than you have ever imagined.
“If people asked me 7 years ago if I would ever work on fashion and styling, I would tell them they were crazy. I was an English teacher, but after many years of teaching, I started getting psychologically tired, and I wanted to do something more creative, something I really loved, in accordance with my style, my integrity, something I really enjoying doing. My friends thought I should get involved with fashion and styling as it seemed like I always loved doing it. I used to go with my friends on shopping trips to give them advice with styling. I was good in matching styles and clothes together. I remember when I was a student I used to sketch clothes and women so I assume it was always inside me, but I never really thought that I would do it professionally as a job in the future.
So I started working as a fashion stylist, doing it as a hobby initially, while working as a teacher at the same time. I was bringing clothes and accessories from Italy. My friends liked it and they started bringing their friends too and as the time was passing by I realized that I really loved working in this field, so I took the decision to do it professionally. I attended several seminars in styling, fashion design and I already knew about sewing. I had my own private atelier where women could visit for styling advice and shopping at the same time. This was giving me the time to really focus on each one of them and give them the best styling advice I could. In this way, I could really get to know my customers and build a trust relationship with them. And they really liked it and they trusted my advice because they could feel all the attention and interest from me to help them find what suits them best, and this is very important. My customers became friends and we built a strong relationship. You don’t have a chance to do this in a shop. You don’t have the time to do it.
I had this private place for 4,5 years, which was not in a very busy area, it was not in the city centre, there were no shop windows or anything that a typical clothes shop has, however, people got to know me and my work because I was doing lots of different things to promote my work. I did lots of fashion shows, I organised fashion events, for 3 years I collaborated with fashion designers that were well known in Athens and they were working with celebrities and that means that they trusted my work. I learned a lot of things from them, about materials, patterns and styling and how the fashion business works.
And after all these years, my customers asked me why I didn’t start designing my own clothesline. They liked how I was doing my job, the way I was working, they trusted me, and they wanted to see me working on clothes entirely mine. So I thought to take the risk and act brave and I started designing my own clothes. I decided to take it one step at the time and see what happens.
So, in October 2013, I presented my first own collection that went really well. To be honest, I didn’t expect that my customers would respond with so much enthusiasm, as there is a big competition out there. You can see it on FB, there are so many pages of people, even young girls, doing their own clothes and selling them as a hobby to earn money. This makes it even more difficult for us, as the competition grows and becomes huge.
I wanted to keep my collection a bit more elegant, stylish and feminine though. I named it ‘Cut-Out 4U’ collection in accordance with my own style and company, my logo that has to do with lines. People loved the ‘Cut-Outs’ and so I kept some of these items in my 2nd collection, too.
When I decided to do my second collection, I thought that, if I wanted to take my work further, I had to move to high street, in the city centre, so my customers had better access to me. And I took the decision to find a new place. My new place is very central and it will help me develop my future plans better.”
I did all the changes and took actions steadily; I always take one step at a time. I never wanted to do something really grand, something that will fade really quickly.
Hard Work, Determination & Love
“There were times were I wanted to give up, to quit. You see, times are difficult because of the economical crisis. And some people criticise you a lot, especially when you are self-created, when you do so many things by yourself and you really try to succeed. When I first started I was getting very emotional about it, I was more sensitive and I didn’t know much about the field, and all these things were getting me really down. But nothing gets me anymore, and I don’t pay any attention to gossips and criticism, I don’t care what other people say, what they do or how they do it and the reason why. They only thing I care about is what I do. I concentrate only on my plans. If I spent my energy in what other people do and say, I would lose the game and I would miss achieving my goals.
I can’t say that I reached all of my goals yet, though. Many people know me outside the city too, but I think that now it’s the time to take it to the next level. And I believe that now my actions will begin to pay off. I am thinking of starting working as a wholesaler. I want to be even more professional by paying attention on everything, from the smaller thing to the biggest, the label of the clothes, my brand name etc.
I generally have a low profile in my personal life, and i haven’t changed personally just because I am recognised by so many people. I just believe that I do my job and this job requires you to explicit yourself and be out there so more people get to know your work. This is not who i really am in my personal life. If I could do it differently i would, but it is part of the job and ongoing publicity is necessary.”
“I never imagined anything of this before. I started working in the business as a hobby for a year, and people guided me a lot in taking this direction as a job. I worked a lot, I loved it and I tried to do as many things as I could and become better. Nothing came easy. There were a lot of difficulties, especially when you work by yourself and you have to do everything without any help. For this reason, many people tell me often ‘Look how much you have achieved so far’!
Personally I havent yet realised what I have done, because, as you strive to do your best everyday, you can’t see the distance you covered since you’ve started. I believe that I am still in the beginning and I have much more to do. Of course, sometimes, when I go 4,5 years back to when I first started and now that I design my own fashion collection, I am amazed. Yeah, sometimes I feel it is ubelievable!
The good thing about me is that I use my imagination. I can see anything on the internet, in a magazine and get inspired and build a picture in my head of a cloth design, the materials I can use, the patterns. What characterizes my own clothes is the cuttings, the style, the lines. I want the clothes I design to have a personality and I take care of the materials as well, so the patterns and the style reveal better. I believe that I have achieved this so far. I believe that i am in the right path and the sales go well, and my 2nd collection goes well, too.
And of course, I always take my friends and my customers’ opinion into consideration and i will continue to do so.”
To everyone that would like to start their own business, not necessarily in the fashion industry, I would say that you need to believe and love what you do, you need to be willing to work hard, be patient and never give up. I think that when you do something that you really love, then you can reach things that you have never ever dreamed of.
Difficulties are necessary so you appreciate your upcoming successes better
“I never dreamed of reaching this high when I first started. I saw it as a hobby that it had a potential to turn out as a job. I was doing it very well, but I never thought of collaborating with professional designers or that I would design my own collection or start my wholesale business. Everything happened after a lot of work, and many sacrifices in my personal life, as I didn’t have time to take care of my personal life as I used to.
Nothing happens without sacrifices and hard work.
That’s the truth. You can never reach as high as you would like to, without going through difficulties, obstacles, dissapointments. I went through all these, and through many happy moments too, of course. And now I feel like I can handle things better, it’s not like when I started. When you start something new you don’t have the experience and you are not able to know many of the upcoming difficulties. But as you go further, you can manage things better. I believe that if you don’t face difficulties and obstacles in your journey, you can’t reach the level you want to. Difficulties make you appreciate your journey and your hard work better.
You can’t just fly to the top, you have to go through different stages. Unless you have a family background in the business you are involved in and the name is already built, and you continue the history of the company. In my case this was not an option as I don’t come from a business family and I am not from this city. I am originally from Kavala. It was 2 or 3 times more difficult for me. I didn’t have a family in this field, to teach me things, to help me. I started with nothing. I put myself in deep water, but I found the courage to manage it. And there are many people like me, that started from nothing and they succeeded in spite of the difficulties and heartbreaks.
When you have courage and you are brave enough, then you can succeed in things that seemed impossible to begin with. I believe that nothing is impossible. Everything can be achieved, in a logical way though. I mean that I never expected to reach immediately the top when I first started. If this happened, i wouldn’t be here.
You need to be patient. Sometimes, you may get exhausted and disappointed and you wonder why. You feel hopeless and you ask why everything seems to come easier to others but you. And of course there is a reason behind that. It happens so you appreciate what you achieve later.
Something more that really helped me through problems was my determination to succeed and the encouragement I always get from my customers and friends. They believe in what i do. Sometimes I had to bet on me to see how far I could get. And I came to terms to exceed my expectations and abilities, all due to hard work. I remember when I did my first fashion show in 2010, I was amazed with myself. I didn’t have all this publicity back then, and everything seemed unbelievable in my eyes. Now that I have done more fashion shows and I have more experience I see it as a part of my job.
Everything is experience and continuing learning. I believe that you need to go through different stages in order to learn life and how to handle everything that comes your way.
There will always be difficulties and problems regardless the stage you are, beginning, middle or in the end of your journey. It’s part of life. There are stages that things will go well and you feel satisfied with everything, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t face problems again. That’s life.”
Katerina has finished working on her 2nd fashion collection named ‘Step Ahead’ collection. It is inspired by her decision to take the next step in her job and move to high street in the city centre of Thessaloniki. Her next plan is to work as a wholesaler in fashion business.
You can see her work and find her on her FB Page ‘Atelier Passione Katerina Daoulka’