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But instead the 28-year-old has seen demand rocket, so much so that when she releases a new piece in her collection every week, it’s been selling out in well under an hour.
After five years of working for well-known fashion retailers, Wirral-based Karina has had such success in the past nine months that she’s been able to dedicate herself to her own designs.
Molby the Label is now her full-time job, and she has five seamstresses helping her meet all the orders which come in every weekend.
For Karina, who is the daughter of Reds legend Jan and charity fundraiser Mandy, fashion has been a passion since she was a young girl.
“My grandma, my mum’s mum, always had clothes shops in Liverpool and Wirral so I worked in them from the age of 7,” she remembers. “People would come up to me and ask, ‘does anyone work here?’ and I’d say ‘yes, me!’
“Growing up around fashion, it was all I ever wanted to do, so I went to college to do a foundation course and then to JMU to do fashion design. In my second year I did a placement in London at Jonathan Saunders and then in third year I did an internship with Philip Armstrong in Liverpool and I learned so much with both of them.”
After graduation, Karina started as a buyer with Boohoo, staying there for two years before moving to Shop Direct to work with Very and Littlewoods.
“But buying is all about budgets and I always wanted to do my own pattern cutting and designing because that was what I really loved, so I started making clothes and selling them on my website.
“When we went into lockdown, at first I thought I wouldn’t make any more because no one was buying anything. But then in May I made a top and I just got lots of orders straight away so I made a few more things and it got busier and busier.
“By September I was getting so many more orders through and it started to take over so that’s when I decided to give up my job to focus on it. And I was lucky because of lockdown I got to see how it would be to work for myself before I actually did it so it wasn’t as scary as it probably would have been.”
With restrictions meaning no photoshoots, Karina began promoting her designs by wearing them herself on Instagram.
“I just started taking pictures of myself wearing the clothes and it actually seems to have worked well. When I was at Very, I was on the Michelle Keegan team and we used to do really expensive styled shoots with her. Then when we went into lockdown, we obviously couldn’t do that anymore so we just sent her a suitcase of all the clothes and she took selfies wearing them. It all sold so much quicker and when we got feedback people just said they could relate to it more, so I think that’s worked for me too.”
Karina describes her clothes as “fun, colourful, bright, cute and girly”, which it turns out is just the feelgood look people want in lockdown. Her signature gingham print dresses and tops are particularly sought-after, and now she regularly sends orders to Australia, Europe and London.
Having well-known fashion bloggers wearing them has helped her reach a new wider market. When blogger Megan Ellaby bought one of her dresses, Karina’s Molby The Label Instagram followers went up by 5,000 in just a day.
Releasing one new piece every week has also proved a success with fans of her label, who wait to see what’s dropping at 6pm each Sunday.
“When it was just me making the clothes, I could only accept 15 orders on a Sunday because that’s all I could do in a week, I couldn’t physically make any more. Now I’ve got seamstresses I can accept a lot more orders but I’m still closing the website within 10-15 minutes because we’re up to capacity.
“I think the fact that there’s a new piece every week does make it more exciting, it builds the anticipation, and people have told me they actually set their alarms so they don’t miss it.”
With everyone keen to cheer themselves up with new buys, Karina is bringing forward her spring/summer collection to this month, and she’s planning to launch a limited edition range of T-shirts too, with prints created in collaboration with a fashion designer friend.
After a cautious lockdown start, Karina is now hoping that her label will keep growing once we come out the other side.
“I just can’t believe it’s happened,” she says. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for four years and now I’m doing it at last.
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