| From Italy to LA, Amsterdam to Scotland and now, Barcelona, Silvia Pellegrino has been taking the industry by storm with her label.
Ever wondered what an average day is like for an international fashion designer? At a glance, you may think nothing but glamour, but it’s not all faux fur and glitter! From Italy to LA, Amsterdam to Scotland and now, Barcelona, Silvia Pellegrino has been taking the industry by storm with her label, Chouchou. Starting the brand from scratch in 2010, Chouchou is renowned for luxury hoods and accessories sold around the world. A master of many trades, Silvia is literally a one woman brand so let’s look at what she gets up to and most importantly, how the hell she does it!
Hey Silvia, we are OBSESSED with your hoods, but first, tell us what is it you do?
It still feels like a lie to say ‘I am a fashion designer and entrepreneur’. I can remember as if t was yesterday younger me at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute just trying to get a foot in the door of the fashion world…ahh those early days! Going back to your question 🙂 I create fashion designs. In 2010 I started off a fashion label called Chouchou in the unique and super inspirational Glasgow’s Hidden Lane and since then I have been creating many designs, and I think I have decided to focus and develop on the one design that people didn’t quite get at the time, our Hollyhood, which is a hood with a lot of personality and versatility. Today we are the only existing label to specialise in luxury hoods I guess my job hasn’t changed much: I design all pieces from the scratch, carefully choosing all fabrics and finishings and I am pretty much hands on on every big and small aspect of choosing what is best for the brand in terms of image, marketing, customer care, finance…you name it! I know it is crazy to be doing everything but if you love so much what you created, it’s hard to not care of every little aspect of it and our wonderful customers know that we truly want them to feel special with their design purchase, so we give them a very personal experience. I am also very personal with the people I work with, I just could not imagine my work without a girl’s chat with Sarah (my right arm) or a coffee and cake with the model or the photographer! We have a lot of fun together and share laughter and tears too. Everyone deserves to feel at home when working with us, and I definitely want to feel at home too, after all, that is why we work for ourselves, right?
I feel you girl! So tell us, did you get into this business?
That definitely wasn’t an easy ride for me. I had to leave Italy and my beloved family behind, I invested every single saved penny in my education and went to study and work in London, Amsterdam, LA and eventually Rome too. I guess what brought me closest to my idea of running the business was an incredible working experience at the LA brand Kucoon. That experience changed my life entirely, I learned that a woman in business wasn’t weak, was power. Andrea the brand owner and designer took me under her wing and we also became good friends and we still are today which is totally magical. She explained to me something that fashion school never covered which is ‘it’s good to make mistakes’. And today this is my total motto, without the ridiculous mistakes we make both in life and in creativity, we can never reach the heights we are after. In 8 months I learned how to create something that would be my own and more than anything I learned how to be confident in my own abilities after that nothing was going to stop the process of the birth of Chouchou.
YES! So what is a typical day like?
Okayyy soo, maybe this isn’t the answer you are expecting but really really there isn’t a typical day at Chouchou! And I really love it that way because I am the kind of person that gets bored fast. I need change, I need challenges, I need unexpected inspiration! Even though the business has forced me to become more business-minded I am still a creative at heart and sooner or later in life you discover that creative people are generally non-punctual/ procrastinators and not your typical squared person with a weekly or monthly fixed schedule. That would actually kill me! Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself as a pretty organised person (my wardrobe is all divided by color- just to give you an idea!!), I usually get the day organised the night before depending on the priorities coming up. Usually, I get up and get the coffee going because that puts me in a really good mood. I feed my bunny rabbit Diva and make my bed, only after I am up half an hour I turn my phone on and quickly check emails, Instagram / facebook so that I make sure I enjoy and I am prepared to face what’s been going on in the world. After that, I get ready and head to the studio or to a business meeting. In the studio, I always make sure music is playing when I am creating and if I have the luxury of spending the whole day creating I will try not to look too much at my phone or get distracted. We work with an external production team so usually, I need to bring fabrics/ pick up the final pieces. I go to the laboratory with my assistant and together we check that everything is perfect. All pieces have to be perfect for our customers before we send them off or the customer comes to collect them. We also work on custom pieces and that I something I make myself by hand. Usually, this is very special and only for our closest clients and friends. I love custom pieces! Just now I spent 3 days on a cute summer dress for a very special girl and I just think it’s hilarious how we have the same taste and size. Everything I create she loves, it’s the most magical relationship ever! Before closing the studio and going home I will either have a phone call/catch up with Sarah as she is not physically here (I am in Barcelona at the moment and she is in Scotland) and we discuss social media strategy and business choices. I feel really lucky to have Sarah on my side, she understand the business completely and she has been in the family for now 5 years, I can’t even imagine working without her. Other days I will go to the market to check out new fabrics or vintage pieces for inspiration. At the market is total hustle and speed and I love it. Those guys already know what I am after and only give me the best of the best. I don’t even need to ask for a discount, they are always super generous and supportive. I think in business what you give is what you get and I only choose to work with the best players. It makes my life so much easier and yes, sparklier!
WOOFT! You must be so tired, what time do you get up at?
Oh, that is another ever-changing factor! Sometimes I stay in the studio until 2am to work on a piece that just isn’t working out how I expected it or just super inspired with something new…in that case I allow myself to stay in bed until 9am. Let’s say usually I try to get up at 8,30 am!
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
The first thing I do is meditation in the morning. It really puts me in a great mood before starting the day.
What do you have for breakfast?
For breakfast I will always have a cappuccino and either one of my artistic, colourful slices of bread (you can see them on Instagram) or porridge. I adore porridge and I always need to give it a twist somehow! My newest porridge recipe is a green porridge with matcha, kiwi, grapes, blueberries and honey. I also add a lot of chia seeds.
How do you keep yourself organised?
I use my paper agenda, I am kind of old fashioned that way and I don’t trust technology haha.
Tell us how you structure your day…
The best technique is to realise which ones are the top priorities. After you have identified the priorities it’s a total Tetris game! Sometimes it’s difficult because new business comes though and you need to change your plan but making people happy is the best feeling ever, so it doesn’t bother me too much to take some extra time off from me.
What time do you finish work?
Usually between 7 pm- 8pm
How do you wind down?
YOGA! Yoga is my savior. I also cannot live without my nights out with my girlfriends and random holidays abroad to keep on feeding my inspiration. I am going on holiday next week and I am just super excited, I will take everything in and translate it into fashion pieces, very soon.
What’s your bed time?
Between 12 and 2am
Any advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Listen to your heart. Really take time to understand who you would like to become in your life and please please don’t listen to people with negative attitude. I believe everything is possible if you put time and dedication to it. Choose your ‘teacher’ and offer your time to learn as much as you can. Also don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they are the best thing that could happen to you!
You can keep up to date with Silvia through instagram on @chouchoucouture