My lightbulb moment: Fashion designer Tabitha Webb, reveals the inspiration behind her clothing label
- Tabitha Webb, 43, made prototypes in 2003 with money earned as a waitress
- She was inspired while looking for a bag that was stylish, big, soft and slouchy
- Tabitha’s designs have been popular with Kate Middleton and Dannii Minogue
Tabitha Webb, 43, is a British fashion designer. She lives in Hampshire with her husband, Gavin, and their two children, Betsy, seven, and Primrose, one.
My parents divorced when I was 13. Growing up, money was tight. Yet my mother was very glamorous: she would never even answer the door without her red lipstick on.
I’ve always loved colour. And I’m a shopaholic. As a teenager, I had so many clothes that Mum let me keep them in the tiny caravan at the end of our drive! But I never dreamed I’d go into fashion.
I studied law for one term at university, then dropped out. It wasn’t me. So I moved to London and took a job in advertising.
Tabitha Webb, 43, (pictured) began working on her fashion label after she spotted a gap in the market for a useful handbag that makes a statement
I worked every hour of the day, rushing around, overloaded with files, which never fitted in one bag. I desperately needed a big bag; something stylish, soft and slouchy with adjustable straps.
That was my light bulb moment. There was a gap in the market for a useful bag that made a statement.
I remember sitting at work, thinking: ‘I don’t want to be here in 20 years.’ So I went home, flicked through the Yellow Pages and found a leather shop in East London. The man in the shop didn’t take me seriously and I had to practically beg him for a factory contact.
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One month later, I quit my job. I was 25. My colleagues thought I was insane: I had no money; just a gut feeling, but Mum always told me to trust this. Life is short, say yes and work out how to do it later!
I worked on the business in the day, and waitressed at night to earn money for prototypes. I had no sleep, but it all paid off. At my first trade show, in 2003, I showed four ‘Orca’ handbags in golds, silvers and hot pinks. I had no idea if people would like them. It was terrifying. Then, House of Fraser put in a £50,000 order, and everything snowballed from there.
In 2007, Dannii Minogue asked me to start a womenswear line with her, called Project D. Our dresses were worn by the likes of Kate Middleton and Miranda Kerr. Then, in 2015, I launched Tabitha Webb: a collection of bold, playful silk shirts and cashmere jumpers, with a charity line by Pippa Middleton.
Looking back, I’ve always gone with my gut, with what I think a normal woman, like me, would want to wear.
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