"IFA Paris gave me the confidence to start my own business!"
Born in Zimbabwe, a graduate from IFA Paris with an MBA Global Fashion Media, Hailey Ross succeeded in creating the luxury shoe brand Kosedy with her sistser, established in Manchester, UK. A brand that implements a limited-edition and sustainable way of thinking.
Michel Temman: Where do you come from and can you let me know about your career, path and journey to the fashion world?
Hailey Ross: I am Zimbabwean born, now living in Manchester, UK. I studied graphic design in South Africa after school and went on to work in that for a few years. However, I never really felt fulfilled, so I moved to Paris and decided to further my studies in Fashion, something I had always been passionate about. My MBA in Global Fashion Media at IFA Paris allowed me to do an exchange in Shanghai which was unbelievable and really opened my eyes to a different side of the fashion sector.
M.T.: You are now established in England and created Kosedy, “the first Manchester independent luxury women’s footwear brand.” Can you introduce the project and where does this name, Kosedy comes from?
Hailey Ross: Kosedy has been a slow process, I originally looked at manufacturing in South Africa but was very disappointed by the quality of the samples and therefore pursued the search for a European manufacturer. This was the most difficult challenge because of our demand for smaller quantities. After trial and error, I finally came across a small family run business in the region Le Marche, in Italy, otherwise known as the shoe valley, and I knew they would be a perfect fit for the vision of Kosedy. At this point Kosedy didn’t have a name until my sister Shellen and I decided to join forces in this business venture. The name Kosedy comes from co (meaning joint), s for sisters/small/sustainable and edy, our maiden name!
M.T.: It seems that you promote your brand through specific values, a different attitude toward consumption and limited editions. You support slow fashion and want to repurpose surplus materials…
Hailey Ross: Indeed. Fast fashion is continuously becoming one of the biggest problems for the environment. We wanted to create timeless designs with a twist that stand out from the rest whilst still maintaining the basic elements that women look for in shoes. We encourage consumers to buy better and rather purchase something that is not bound by the seasonal calendar but can stand the test of time-both in design and quality. Our Annular series uses surplus leather and we hope in the future to have the entire collection moving in this sort of direction.
M.T.: Can you detail your approach toward sustainability?
Hailey Ross: Limited quantities of production means that we are not stock piling, we create what we know we can sell and hope to ensure that we have the consumers demand for a product first. Secondly, we believe that leather in a truly a sustainable material, the manufacturing process is less harmful to the environment and lasts much longer that synthetic materials. Finally, we aim to use surplus leather where possible, preventing it from being incinerated or going to waste. Sustainability has no finish line, it is a race in which we will constantly part-take, always developing ideas and pushing boundaries to find the best possible solution for our environment.
M.T.: How did you enroll in IFA Paris and how valuable were your studies there? Did you learn anything there that changed you and may be your vision?
Hailey Ross: My exposure to different cultures definitely played a huge role in the vision of Kosedy. Other than being a Zimbabwean studying in Paris and Shanghai, I had so many different walks of life with different views and beliefs in my classes, that I got a 360 degrees view on how the world views fashion and approaches different situations. On top of that, IFA Paris gave me a wide variety of skills which gave me the confidence to start my own business. I gained so much knowledge and had the privilege of being exposed to so many experienced peers and lecturers, some of which I have been in contact with after my studies.
M.T.: You just launched your e-commerce website. What are the main challenges when you are a newcomer proposing online limited luxury items?
Hailey Ross: The price range is the number one issue. We have had so many people visit the website in the past month it’s been unbelievable- the difficulty has been converting those visitors into customers. The disadvantage to being solely online is that we only have social media through which to engage our consumers. We cannot be seen and tried on in stores, so our exposure is limited at the moment. However, all good things take time. I believe in our vision and have confidence that in the years to come we will expand and grow the market for our footwear collection while keeping sustainability at the forefront!