Sonia Padam – Eight Hour Studio
After studying in Australia for an accounting qualification, Sonia worked first in Australia as an accountant and then in the same role in London after moving there in 2007. But by 2013, she’d decided on a complete change of direction – setting up her own business.
This led to the January 2015 launch of her company Eight Hour Studio which designs and makes an attractive range of sleepwear with plans in the pipeline to expand the range with day and evening wear. The ‘eight hour’ concept is that the day is divided into three sections, sleep, work and play and Sonia plans to create clothing for each of those three periods.
“It was my passion for traditional woodblock printing which I came across many years ago in India that led to the concept for my clothing range,” explains Sonia. “Sadly, it’s a craft that’s slowly dying out and I wanted to do my bit to keep it alive. My aim is to use this ancient technique to create a contemporary, international look. Our clothes are stylish with eye-catching detailing but relaxing and comfortable to wear and they come decorated with exclusive prints.
“Despite starting my career as an accountant, I’d always assumed I’d start my own business at some point as both my parents were very entrepreneurial people. Eight Hour Studio is actually the second business I’ve started – a few years ago I had an enterprise decorating cakes while I took a career break from accountancy, a business that started out as a hobby. I really enjoyed the creativity of the cake decorating but decided it wasn’t where my future lay.
“I spent two years developing the concept of the business and my husband and I spent a year preparing for the launch of the first collection. One of our founding principles has been that we want to run an ethical business, one that is socially responsible and environmentally aware.
“To my regret, I’d already been working on my business for some time before I came across the Portobello Business Centre – if I’d found them earlier, it definitely would have saved me time and money! As it was, I went on The Centre’s Fashion Masterclass course in early 2014.
“The course leader, David Jones, has a fantastic breadth of experience in the fashion business and as a person not from a fashion background, I found his knowledge and insights incredibly enlightening, and I still do. Another strength of the course was meeting others who were launching fashion businesses – it was really good to be part of this group of motivated people and some of us still keep in touch.
“After the course I joined David’s mentoring service, signing up initially for a year and then extending that by six months. David has helped me with all kinds of issues from quite technical matters to broader topics. It’s always comforting to know I can call him when I’ve got an issue I’m not sure about. If he doesn’t have the answer, he knows who to ask.
“Now that the company is up and running, we’re mainly concentrating on online sales, although we’ve also shown at retail events. For next spring and summer we’ll have a collection of play and beachwear to add to our sleepwear.
The best advice I can give to anyone who’s thinking of starting a business, whether it’s in fashion or something completely different, is to go to the Portobello Business Centre at the earliest opportunity. The advice and help I’ve had from the Centre has been absolutely invaluable and I only wish I’d found them sooner.
Eight Hour Studio