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From one jacket to British Vogue - the success of MiaGiacca, a Szczecin-based clothing brand.

From one jacket to British Vogue - the success of MiaGiacca, a Szczecin-based clothing brand.

MiaGiacca is a Szczecin-based (Poland) brand founded in 2017 by Maja Źróbecka. It offers elegant jackets that make women look elegant even if they are just in jeans and a T-shirt. Recently, the brand has been mentioned in British Vogue.
Together with Maja Źróbecka, the founder of MiaGiacca, we talk about her business and plans for the future.

Photo: Maja Źróbecka, founder of MiaGiacca

Where did the idea for starting MiaGiacca come from?

Every day I worked in my home office, running a linguistic company, and I usually wore my favourite jeans and a T-shirt. But when after 3.30pm I picked up my children from school and compared myself with other mothers who came for their children straight from work in the city, I felt outclassed. I needed something that would quickly transform my casual outfit into something more sophisticated.

I looked for inspiration on Pinterest and saw that a tweed jacket could be ideal for this. Tweed, in itself, is an exquisite fabric, which consists of many types of yarns that give a fantastic texture and appearance.

In the beginning, I wanted to buy a jacket from existing brands. I have always paid attention to the quality of clothes, and I rarely shop at fast fashion brands. I checked the offer of premium brands but just got upset when I saw a jacket for over 400 euro with a polyester lining. I decided to ask my regular dressmaker to cut and tailor such a jacket for me.

I looked for the right fabric for over a month, which in the end I bought in England. On Amazon, I bought some books on couture sewing of such a jacket and brought all the materials to my dressmaker who was a bit surprised with my project.

The jacket came out beautifully: black tweed with a silver thread, silk lining, jewellery buttons - that was it!

Since that moment, I started thinking whether this could be a business idea. I was terrified of failure but realised that if I didn’t try, I would regret it for the rest of my life. That's how I went from the idea to the execution.

The fabrics that I use come from an English mill with over 100 years of tradition. They are produced in small quantities which allows me to preserve the uniqueness of my products. When choosing fabrics, I always focus on their composition, and I especially love those with the predominance of wool because they are soft and comfortable to wear.

What were the most significant difficulties you encountered in starting your brand?

In the beginning, it was difficult to access fashion professionals in my city, Szczecin. Cooperation with the first two pattern constructors was a failure, and I had to look further. By coincidence, I got connected with a specialist with over 25 years of experience who devoted a lot of time to create with me the first model.

Another problem was finding a decent sewing room that would be interested in my small quantities. In this case, I also learnt a bitter lesson because when finally, after testing 6 sewing rooms, I chose the one that seemed the most trustworthy, it turned out that my order was subcontracted to another business without my knowledge and I wasn’t happy with the execution, to say the least. Initially, I burst into tears and wanted to quit everything. This meant severe financial losses for me, but on the other hand, it made me realise that if I wanted to create high-quality items from expensive fabrics and in a limited number of copies, I had to start my own studio in which I would supervise the creation of every piece.

Photo: MiaGiacca studio.

MiaGiacca is headquartered in Szczecin. Why here and not in Warsaw where many Polish designers live?

Szczecin is my hometown, to which I returned after my studies and a four-year stay in London. We've started a family here, my husband runs an IT company in Szczecin, and we're just happy here.

Recently, MiaGiacca appeared in British Vogue. How did this happen? Did the editor contact you herself, did you try to reach someone at the magazine?

When I received an e-mail with an offer, at first, I thought that it was spam and almost deleted this e-mail. But then I started verifying the given contact details and finally grabbed the phone and called the sender who confirmed the validity of the message. I am thrilled that MiaGiacca has been noticed.

And was it an advertising offer, a paid advertisement or, for example, a magazine stylist found your jacket somewhere?

The mention appeared in the Designer Profile section which presents the readers with new brands. This kind of distinction can involve costs. The details were agreed individually, as is the case for placing designs in the magazine’s editorial section. I feel honoured that MiaGiacca has been given this opportunity.

Have you noticed that the mention in Vogue has somehow increased brand recognition, sales, etc.?

Building brand awareness is such a long-term process that I cannot say yet whether the publication has actually increased it. Indeed, this has made MiaGiacca more credible in the eyes of existing fans and followers in social media which is also essential.

MiaGiacca website is in English, as is the brand’s Facebook fan page. Why? Are you focusing more on foreign customers?

In fact, I focus on customers from around the world because I consider myself a global citizen. Communicating in English helps me reach a wider group of people.

Do you have any data on the most popular destinations for your jackets?

We have customers in Europe, Australia, USA, Singapore and Japan.

Do you plan to open a bricks-and-mortar boutique?

For now, I don’t have such plans because it doesn’t really correspond with my idea of creating garments to order. My jackets and other clothing are always adjusted as per the customer’s measurements. A customer can introduce changes to the existing design, e.g. change the trim, shorten the sleeves, take in the waist, as well as create an individual design from scratch. I am definitely more attached to slow fashion and believe in a saying "quality, not quantity" but I don’t completely dismiss this idea, perhaps with the BASIC line.

How do you promote your brand?

Promoting a clothing brand is hard and non-stop work. I focus mainly on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I also use a newsletter and collaboration with influencers.

Please tell me more about cooperating with influencers.

I’ve done several collaborations, and some were more successful than others. In the beginning, I fell prey to a wannabe influencer. I just didn’t know what to pay attention to, how to choose the right person. I was just looking at the number of followers who, after some time, turned out to be fake. As usual, I learned from my mistakes.

I’m getting good results from working with an influencer from Great Britain. We regularly publish sponsored posts that generate a lot of traffic on the website.

And do you get a lot of messages about gifting your products in exchange for promotion?

Yes, of course, but I cannot always afford such an approach because simply my products are too expensive to make. Each jacket is cut and sewn to the customer's individual order, this isn’t mass production.

Did you use investors' support when starting MiaGiacca?

I finance the operation of MiaGiacca with my own money, and everything I earn, I reinvest, usually in new fabrics and machines. I want to grow my company organically, in harmony with myself and my values.

In addition to MiaGiacca, you also have a translation company MyLingua.pl. How do you manage to run both these businesses?

I also ask myself this question. I work a lot, often in the evenings, at weekends. I always try to be available for my customers who span a few time zones. But I have been running my first company for 12 years, so I have developed some methods. Besides, I have two children and a black Labrador, but more or less I manage everything fine.

What does your typical day look like?

I get up around 6, get ready and take the children to school and go to the studio. We discuss current orders, set a plan and work. Every day I search the Internet for fabrics, zippers, buttons, trims, linings. I personally pack all orders to which I attach a hand-written note. In the studio, I also run the linguistic business that still enables me to finance the development of MiaGiacca. After work, I pick up my children from school, and when I have more time, I go grocery shopping, cook dinner. But I’m not obsessed with being a perfect housewife because it's merely impossible. I walk the dog, go to my Zumba and dance classes, read a bedtime story to my children, and then I sit at my computer and make up for what I didn’t manage to do during the day. I'm trying to get enough sleep because otherwise, I do not function well. It would be unfair not to mention my husband who, from the very beginning, supports, motivates and helps me as best as he can.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to promote the idea of customised clothes as opposed to those off-the-peg. I would also want to upgrade my online store with a jacket configurator so that the customer can choose the cut, fabric, lining and accessories according to her preferences. There is still a lot of work to do because promoting a new brand with your own means is a long-term project, but after a promising start and enthusiastic reviews, I have an appetite for more.

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