Erika Janavi initially came by bus from Lithuania to London to study Fashion and Textiles in 2011. She had a wild ride discovering herself and challenging her career in various fields, however, not Fashion. During the first lockdown, she realized how fascinated she is with textiles and how much creativity she can give to designing, which is why she’s now pursuing this as a full-time career. More than that, she managed to adapt her unusual lifestyle to her designing profession. The majority of her possessions are antique or vintage because she’s passionate about sustainable living and timeless everlasting designs. Therefore she makes her pieces from unique antique /vintage fabrics and materials.
Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Erika to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I left my home country of Lithuania as soon as I graduated from school and started my BA studies in Fashion and textiles in West London. It was a spontaneous decision since I had previously prepared to study interior design.
What do you like most about being a designer?
The creative process of firstly imagining a design, then creating it, and finally seeing it materialise and worn.
Downside to being a fashion designer?
It is one of the toughest industries, especially if you are trying to make it on your own. People always tend to buy fast Fashion because of its cost rather than researching independent designers who offer unique, sustainable, and lasting quality items.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?
I believe my big personal moments are yet to come in the near future.
Several years ago, whilst I was in my final year at university, somehow, I still managed to do a full-time internship and work in a cafe on weekends. I was an assistant for a very successful couture designer whose clients at the time were celebrities like Florence and Machines, Paloma Faith, Nicole Scherzinger, Mischa Barton.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
Multitasking artists with a side hustle are always the most interesting people!
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help; you definitely can’t do it all by yourself.
Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?
I think they are doing their best even though they don’t fully understand it sometimes.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I would have kept up the creativity even if times were hard and I was literally a starving artist (after university, I had a four-year break working full time and abandoning Fashion because I didn’t get a job in the industry right away). I’d also start building a social media presence earlier.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Back in university, I was very unconfident and unsure if my design ideas were good; my headteacher once told me: ‘Do you want your designs to be in a museum one day? Then you should know what to do.’ Whenever I wasn’t sure if I should hold back and choose simpler design ideas or go bigger, I always remember his advice.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
This spring, I will finally start selling my designs with stockists; I am also focusing on opening a pop-up shop with multiple avant-garde independent designers.