Chavah is a Saint John based fashion designer who has made a mark on this city to date with her spectacular designs geared towards the modern woman.
We collaborated recently to create a fashion shoot and I asked Chavah some questions about her passion.
Tell us a little about where you are from and your life today
My family moved to St. Stephen from Ottawa when I was in kindergarten. It was nice growing up in a small town, but I always dreamt of moving to bigger places. After graduating high school I moved to Fredericton to study fashion design at New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. After I graduated from that program, I moved to Toronto to continue my education in Fashion but through marketing this time at Humber College. Years passed and I finally decided to just go for it and started my business in 2015. I now live in Saint John; with my husband Terrance and three children, Landon, Hannah, and Georgia; where I operate my business, Chavah Designs, out of my home based studio.
What led you to be interested in fashion designing?
I can’t even think of when the first time I said I wanted to be a designer, it was just always what I knew I was going to do. My mom was my number one supporter from the beginning of the designer dreams. She was the one who taught me to sew, encouraged me to keep up my sewing, drawing, and designing through my teen years; she even drove me to Toronto when I was 16 to take a fashion design intro course so I could be absolutely sure it was what I wanted. Both of my grandmother’s were into fashion too; my Nanny always dreamt of being a designer but had to take a more practical approach to her career and became a teacher. My Grammy was a tailor in the navy for years and used to help me make my dresses for our formal dances in school.
Describe the feeling when you have completed a work of art.
Making the same sort of dresses over and over can get quite monotonous; but I just have to stop and reflect on how far I’ve come. Like, sure I don’t ALWAYS get to be creative and make what I want, but I’m here doing the job I dreamed of for my entire life, and that’s pretty amazing. There is a difference sense of pride that comes along with finishing a custom piece for a client. Say, a wedding dress, for instance. To work with a client one on one to create such a meaningful piece is a great feeling.
What is the toughest part of being an entrepreneur in your field?
Hmm.. there have been different tough parts, but I mean, it’s all part of the growing process. Things that I found to be challenging a year ago, are totally different then now. A challenge I was finding, more in the beginning than now, was pricing. So many people expected “made in China” pricing when getting custom made garments made. Like, sure, you can get a dress on Aliexpress or Wish for $13, but that doesn’t mean I can make it for that much. It feels like that isn’t so tough anymore. The clients I am getting are ones that understand the value of custom made and feel excited for everything that comes along with that experience. At this point my biggest challenge is probably social media. I really enjoy that part of my job, but it’s so hard to not compare yourself to others in your field.
Who is your ideal client?
My ideal client is a woman or girl who is looking to have a custom & high quality garment made. Whether it be for an everyday look or a formal event, I really just love to work with clients who appreciate the experience and process of custom made.
Where do you see yourself in five years with your business ?
In five years, I see Chavah Designs being more than just a one man show. At this point, I am having more requests for orders than I can take on myself. I want to be involved in the business decision making and then working with clients one on one for custom designs but have an employee or two to take over the garment making.
Models: Jenna Neil, Lauren Welch, Whitly Theriault