Meet the marketing manager from Southsea who has swapped her office job to become a fashion designer

A MARKETING manager from Southsea has followed her dream and swapped her office job for fashion.

Saturday, 31st July 2021, 4:55 am
South coast lifestyle start-up Tabby Firefly set up by Louise Lea

Louise Lea, from Southsea was inspired during lockdown to to create a quirky, mindful and sustainable fashion brand called Tabby Firefly.

Louise started working on her collection as an antidote to the stress of her day job as a marketing manager.

She said: ‘There was no social life or going out so, to relax, I turned my hand to designing wall-art for my own home using inspirational quotes.’

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South coast lifestyle start-up Tabby Firefly set up by Louise Lea

The end result is a collection of 50 women’s T-shirts and vests, 22 men’s T-shirts plus hoodies, sweatshirts and 45 sharp graphic art prints; from the Good Vibes cassette with a hint of 80s retro, to the instructional: You are exactly where you need to be.

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Louise hit on the company name as a way of expressing the two sides to her work.

She said: ‘The Tabby suggests something simple and wholesome, the Firefly more crazy and brash.’

Her designs are printed to order on organic cotton or recycled paper – meaning no waste or energy is consumed by storage or excessive transport – by Isle of Wight company, Teemill.

Clothing can be returned to Tabby Firefly for recycling at the end of its life, cutting down on waste and working towards a more circular economy.

Louise said: ‘Sustainability was vital to me but what I also liked was the idea of the printer being based on the Isle of Wight, just across the Solent.

‘I felt that working with them would be a nice affinity for a business located on the south coast.’

Louise said the inspiration for her designs comes from her time spent beside the sea and 90s music as well as ‘sunshine, wildlife and plants’.

She has also produced a niche ‘Chronic Collection’ inspired by ‘physical and mental health warriors’. These T-shirts include the slogans Nap More, Not Today and Overthinker, and are borne out of her own experiences.

After suffering from chronic migraine for 26 years and having had Guillain-Barré syndrome - a serious nerve condition that affects the hands, feet and limbs - Louise said she understands the struggle of those with hidden disabilities.

In addition, she also raises money for Alzheimer’s research through her funky Roller Girl clothing range - a collaboration with a graphic designer who is skating every day to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society charity.

During lockdown it wasn’t easy to arrange in-person photo shoots, so Louise soft-launched on Instagram earlier this year in a bid to find real women and men as natural models, promoting positive body images.

She said: ‘Among others, I reached out to an over-50s fashion blogger, an Instagrammer empowering body confidence with a disability, a local musician and a size 18 body-positivity influencer – I really want my collection to represent people with positive stories.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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