In Conversation with Badass Babes – Kessie Hodges
Published: 26th June 2019
Lady K Loves as a brand has been built on strong feminist foundations and we are constantly inspired and subconsciously (& consciously) promote strong women and female empowerment. We want our Lady K Loves community to feel totally badass in our clothing and because of this we wanted to do a series of interviews with awesome women we know!
First off our founder Kessie Hodges!
Lady K Loves was basically an extension of what I already did. For years (since I was in my mid-teens) I’d made clothes mostly starting with jeans. I had a total love of trousers, making tight leg kick flares, wide leg skate cords, then skinny tight punk jeans into vintage styled high waist tight jeans which I couldn’t get anywhere else. I’d been asked by friends to make them for them too. This progressed into being asked by friends who ran businesses to design & produce their uniforms. Throw in a degree in Textiles, working in a top London sample making studio in the run up to LFW and I couldn’t see anything else! I’ve always been really aware and in love with how what you wear says about you. There is so much narrative in our wardrobes and with a little bit of effort you can curate your own show. I’d regularly look at items in the shops and think, I like this but only if it had this on it, or this taken away, or fitted a little differently.
How do you stay motivated?
Too many action films as a kid. I was a major fan of Stallone & Arnie growing up in the 80’s & early 90’s and I think that never give up, never surrender thing burned into my brain.
I’m pretty upbeat and positive if left to my own devices, I meditate, visualise, do yoga, go the gym, take time to see the things I’m grateful for, all of the kind of things you do as a kid from a hippy town! And I always have, too. I remember when the Madonna wave of yoga hit ,I did my GCSE’s relatively soon afterwards and started yoga to relax inbetween revising. I always took the self-care advise pretty seriously.
When there’s always something new I want to bring out, there’s always some Pinky & The Brain hair brain scheme I’m working on, motivation is key.
Part of it is you guys and the great community around Lady K Loves. I’m really lucky because I get messages from women and get to see your posts on social media where you’ve bought something from Lady K Loves and it’s made your day. That totally helps! The conversations about thank you for good customer service, thank you for helping me find jeans I feel great in. It all makes my day and gives me the good feels to keep doing what I do.
How did you develop your unique sense of style?
It’s always been this way….I was a very, quirky dresser as a child. I’m from a hippy town in the countryside and there’s this energy of anything goes there. I moved to Manchester for my late childhood and that was an odd mix, me & Manchester. As a kid there I didn’t look like anyone else and was a bit odd, I took a bit of a beating emotionally because of that. But it made me really, any worry or concern of what others might thing got left behind because I realised I was gonna get flack whatever so I may as well love what I wore!
I really identified with Gwen Stefani, Debbie Harry and Brody Dalle growing up. My late teens where full of punk, ska, rock gigs before I found rockabilly and fell in love with the style. Women like Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, Monique Powell, Shirley Manson, they all inspired me so much and there’s still a teen in me which was then plastered over my walls.
I feel even more comfortable in who I am now, so feel more happy to mix up era’s and play. There’s so much stress in life that the way you look should be fun rather than a set of rules to follow.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Always think a head.’ My Dad’s best Draughtsman joke (you draw it on some paper and then run out of room to write head, get it?)
There’s always so much to do running a business. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, so having half an eye on where you want to go is really important, otherwise you do the day to day tasks but there’s no progress.
“I wrote my diss in 20 minute sessions” My mum, who also had 3 kids at the time. Basically stop thinking about perfection and getting it all done in one bite. Lots of little bites ad up and you get to the same place, though often faster and sometimes slightly better place.
If you could have dinner with any 3 women who would it be and why?
Ah man this is tough!
Heady Lamarr, She was a Hollywood star but also an inventor. She invented an air wave relay messaging system which is what Wi-Fi is based on. I’d want to talk to her about that and try and wangle an invite to her inventor’s workshop.
Amelia Earhart, an adventure in the 30’s who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Her plane went missing one flight and she was never seen again. She has some fantastic quotes and I can’t imagine how strong she must have been to be a pioneer at that point in time.
Joan of Ark, as a kid I thought she was a fictional character, she just seemed so cool. I think there has a been loads of fictional characters created after her (Arya Stark I’m looking at you).
I’m endlessly impressed by women who crash through the walls of expectation and rise up to be their highest self.
3 top tips for starting your own business.
Just friggin do it! Honesty, your voice in your head, your friend, your family, your bloke saying you can’t can do one! (if any of your friends, family or significant person is in this camp, scrap them now honey, you’re gonna have enough on your plate without someone pretending to be on your team and actually working against you). You might not make it is the honest answer, you might decide you actually don’t like it cos running a business isn’t all sunshine and photo shoots and fun. But give it a go!
Keep it simple. Seriously I struggle with this one, but until you are comfortable and have a backup of capital and a loyal community, keep your offering simple. Focus on getting really good at up to 3 things, nail it, then expand slightly. And repeat. I still struggle with this because I want to do ALL OF THE THINGS, and I have to remind myself to do one of the things, then move onto the next one.
Don’t give up your day job. I know it totally sucks, but it gives you a couple of really useful things. The first is motivation to get the side hustle rolling in money, the second is paying your rent. It can also teach you so much and give you space to learn and make mistakes with someone elses money rather than your own.
I can honestly say I did none of these and I wish I had done all of them. Dump the ‘partner’ who jokes about you sitting on your arse watching stories and eating bonbons (actual quote), keep the first things you do simple while you nail the rest of it, keep money coming in so the rent is 100% covered and fun money.
Why is it so important to you that Lady K Loves upholds sustainable & Ethical values?
I feel sad every time I look at plastic. As a kid I couldn’t sleep because I was worried the world would be flooded by global warming and we’d all die in our beds. If anything, our consumption of the earth’s resources has sped up so fast since then. I have an internal battle about producing items and damaging the earth. I feel responsible to help provide an alternative to quick cheaply made plastic clothing (synthetics are for the most part plastics and will take anything from 200 – 400 years to break down. Even then they don’t bio-degrade but become smaller particles). Providing another option, also means we’re providing an education and leading by example.
Lady K Loves is by no-means sustainably perfect, but we’re conscious and we’re making progress. Thoughts, feedback, and wish lists are always welcome to help us on this path.
How do you stay inspired?
Walking down the street! So much, I honestly don’t think I will ever run out of ideas, and if I ever did there’s a bank of drafts and first version samples in the archives to dig through and re-work into a finished product. Recently I went to Bath Museum of Fashion with Cherry Dollface, that was SO exciting! There were so many little details which set my imagination on fire, from the back on a 30’s satin bias cut gown, to the button and bead detail on regency era dresses. Afterwards we went to a vintage shop in Bath and again, there were loads of items which had small details to die for.
Digital platforms like Instagram, Pinterest etc are great for searching through concepts. But exhibitions or real life is far more surprising and I enjoy that more. I have photo’s saved from where I’ve been travelling around Delhi to suppliers and seen a back pocket detail on a pair of trousers the rickshaw rider in front of me was wearing and thought, I want to incorporate that detail in to something. Then the rest of the design falls in around that one key detail.