The path to start Kameleon Rose has been incredible journey and i want to share it with you!
My name is Leila Rose Faddoul, I am 31 years old and i am from Manchester. My mum was a self made clothing designer and from a young age i would ask my mum to create dresses and costumes that I ‘designed’ These early years formed a massive creative foundation. However, when i was 11 years old my mum died, it was the end of many things and changed the course of my life. From that point there was no more painting, sewing and creating. I was steered towards science and mathematics, my academic path continued and i ended up going to Medical school, I was always pretty surprised that I had managed to get in! Medical school was amazing and tough at the same time. I completed 5 years of study to become a doctor. After that I worked as a junior doctor in a large hospital in the UK.
Being a doctor is an incredible career it is demanding yet rewarding, challenging and exhausting. I realised that to be the best doctor I could be i needed to be 100% passionate about being a doctor. But I was not... I also desperately missed creating. I felt like I had somehow become someone I was not.
Not only did my job make me feel trapped, but also my entire environment. I was in a routine that meant working 90 plus hours a week. I was saving every month to buy a house in the area I had been living for years. To ‘settle’ down because that’s what everyone seemed to be doing.
I wasn’t happy I was miserable.
I did not know exactly what I wanted to do but I did know that I wanted to go travelling and find out. So I took the saved up deposit for a house and bought around the world plane tickets.
By this time nearly every single person around me thought I had gone a bit mad. My parents could not believe what I was doing!
It felt so selfish and empowering to take such huge decisions.
‘Le grand depart’ It was time to say bye for now to my old life, old job, house and all my friends and family.
First stop, Buenos Aires Argentina. For the first month of my trip I dreamt every night of the hospital, the grueling on calls and being told that there was a mistake and I still had to work as a doctor. I woke up panicking to realize with glee that I had somehow escaped it all. It was real. I was travelling I had gone on an adventure of a lifetime!
Picture of the donkey we hired to trek 11 days in Peru:
Whilst travelling I realised how important clothing was and how I hadn’t really taken many useful things. Most of my clothes were just simply impractical for the rough travelling I was doing.
Picture of boat I lived on in the Amazon:
I met many travellers and we started to talk and think about how clothes could be better and how great it would be if we didn’t look like Indiana Jones when we were eating out in a city. Travelling clothes seemed great when sat on a wooden canoe in the Amazon River but we felt hideously touristy when in a town or in the evening. Picture in a canoe !
It all come together on a 4 day trek with travellers from around the world in Huaraz Peru and found we were not the only one with that idea. This extract is from my Travel diary:
“21st August 2011, Inspired by trekking with 12 people from different countries and lives but with one thing in common; they like travelling and want clothes for everything they do and don’t like technical looking clothes”
I thought why don’t I design clothes for travelling active people who want to also look good doing all things that they love.
The first product I designed was the Kameleon. I was having a picnic next to Lake Wanaka on New Zealand's South Island and I was wearing my favourite summer dress. I found it impossible to sit without looking un-lady like! Then I had a thought what if a dress could close and become trousers!
I got some buttons sewed them to my dress, cut holes on the other side and started to play around: the first prototype was created!
After,travelling for a year and developing the idea of Kameleon Rose in January 2012 i went to Madagascar.
I had discovered Madagascar during a trip in 2007 where I had fallen in love with the people and the nature. I wanted to find a way to manufacture ethically and give back to Madagascar. I set out to source fabric, learn how to sew and make prototypes.
It was tough, I understood little of the textile world i was also broke after spending all my savings on travelling.
After months of working everyday building my ideas and sewing I started to share with others. I showed my first prototypes to friends and family the response was amazing! Everyone loved it.
My amazing parents shocked me by offering to support me in starting the business! I was over the moon. Kameleon Rose was becoming real not just an idea in my head.
I sent prototypes to friends who went travelling, they tested them I took on their feedback and the design developed. I sourced fabric, visited factories looking for the right one with fantastic quality and ethical conditions and researched the market of how I would sell the product.
Fast forward- Kameleon Rose has been on the market for the last 3 years and we have grown to now have customers from all over the world!
It makes me incredibly happy and proud to see awesome people travelling the world in their kameleons!
I am so grateful to the opportunity I have had, I am happy that I took the leap to leave my career and I am so thankful to everyone that has helped make Kameleon Rose happen and grow to the company it is now. Bring on the next adventures!
What do you guys think? Can you relate to my story, please share with us?