Bianca Elgar is an award winning fashion designer who launched her own label from her kitchen table after taking a leap of faith at the age of 50. Here she talks to Lumity about having the confidence to change careers at midlife and why she wanted to create a luxury British brand that can make women of any age feel fabulous.
Six years ago Bianca Elgar looked around and like so many women her age thought; “What do I do now?”
Her children were grown up and her career working in print design for interiors was no longer fulfilling her. But at 50-years-old was it feasible to embark on a brand new career venture? “Absolutely” she says.
And so she humbly began planning her own fashion range, learning about business and making every spare second she had about building a brand and a company of her own.
‘Things happen to a woman in their menopause’
Bianca now has multiple awards under her very stylish belt and is proud to produce an exquisite range of versatile clothing she hopes women of all ages, shapes and sizes can wear to feel their very best.
When asked how she had the courage to break away from the safety of her job to follow her passion at 50 Bianca admits matter of factly: “I actually didn’t think long about it,” she says. “Besides there is no other time than now!
“Things happen to a woman in their menopause, when your children have grown up. You suddenly find there is time for you again. I grabbed that time and that freedom and set about doing something amazing. You give so much to your children and then you can feel quite empty. I wanted to use my energy to create a business.”
‘You have to live each day as if it were your last’
Bianca was under no illusion however that she was a few decades older than youthful graduates competing with her to make an impression on the fashion world. But she didn’t let that phase her.
After initially embarking on a textile design course she soon realised that for her, she would be better off learning as she went along.
She knew she wanted to use quality prints for fashion, make fashion more versatile and she wanted to create investment pieces. What she wasn’t so clued up on was the business side of things.
“If I had continued with my textile degree that would have taken at least 5 years and I would have been 55 and just starting out.
“I thought I may as well just get the experience on the job and start creating something which was unique.”
‘I realised I shouldn’t be scared’
Clearly eager to seize the moment and kickstart something she was so passionate about Bianca threw herself into the project, learning from everyone she could.
“I did a fast track course with a mentor to help me learn about so many things which I would normally have had to go to college for,” says Bianca who admits part of what forged her forward was tragedy.
“I had an unusual experience in a very short amount of time. Some friends got very sick and one actually died. I thought what if that were to happen to me? I realised you have to live each day as if it were your last. I saw people hanging on for dear life and I thought I should not be scared of what I’m doing. I owe it to them for my view that I better do it now because now is the only time.”
‘It’s amazing how uplifting clothes can be’
Bianca’s beautiful capsule wardrobe collections which includes scarves, dresses, tops and accessories – all produced in Britain – might not be cheap but they are quality and she says: “An investment in yourself” and your self worth.
“When you put something on in the morning and you do your makeup and your hair it is extraordinary how uplifting it can be especially if your mood is low.
“It’s that thing about investing in yourself and considering yourself worthwhile. My designs – in particular my scarves – can transform an outfit. One piece is versatile and luxurious and it will last.”
So we had to ask. What pieces from her collection should every woman have?
“Firstly the little black dress. A skinny scarf which you can wear around your neck, your head, around your waist or tie onto your bag. One of my large scarfs and a tube top.
‘I hope my clothes make women feel amazing’
“The tube tops are an amazing investment and can completely alter an outfit in an instant. You can wear these tops as a scarf, a bolero or a top and they’re great if you have issues with your upper arms. There are so many ways you can wear my clothes and I hope they make the people who do feel amazing.”
She is also giving back by donating 10% of online sales from her Bianca Elgar X Sickle Cell Collection to the Sickle Cell Society.