Woman who taught herself to sew is now a designer loved by the stars

Woman who taught herself to sew is now a designer loved by the stars

April 15, 2019

Designer who taught herself to sew by watching YouTube tutorials launches clothing website loved by celebrities including Michelle Keegan and even a Spice Girl (and she’s set to make £1.5 Million)

  • Nadine Merabi, 37, from Manchester, has no formal design or fashion training
  • She bought a sewing machine and watched YouTube videos to learn the skill
  • Designer has since fitted dresses for Mel B, Paloma Faith and Brooke Vincent  

A former events planner who taught herself to sew is now a popular designer loved by the stars.

Nadine Merabi, 37, from Manchester, who had no formal fashion training, simply bought a sewing machine and learned the skill by watching YouTube tutorials. 

Now, the self-taught fashion designer boasts a celebrity clientele and has dressed the likes of Little Mix, Mel B, Paloma Faith and Michelle Keegan – along with brides and women who want to feel confident and look good.

Having never even threaded a sewing machine before she set out, Nadine’s business is now on target to generate an impressive £1.5 million turnover by the end of this year.

Nadine Merabi (above), 37, from Manchester, has launched a £1.5 million pound clothing business which is loved by the stars – including Michelle Keegan, Paloma Faith and Mel B

Michelle Keegan opted to wear one of Nadine’s designs when she attended Revlon’s Choose Love Masquerade Ball held at the Victoria and Albert Museum (above)

Brooke Vincent (pictured) was Nadine’s very first celebrity client. Above, arriving for the 2012 British Soap Awards at ITV London Studios, South Bank, London

Former Saturday member Rochelle Humes donned a sparkly gold design for her lavish 30th birthday celebrations at Soho Farmhouse

Nadine’s website went online and global in 2015 – and her brand NADINE MERABI is now sold in around 60 select stockists around the world. 

Her first famous client was Coronation Street actress Brooke Vincent – who she already knew from when she used to run events.

‘She found out I was making dresses and asked me to design one for her for the National Television Awards in January 2011,’ said Nadine. 

‘I’d never done anything like this before and we were still in the studio at 3.30am in the morning to get it finished in time. It was an off-the-shoulder cream crepe dress with boning and a split to the thigh.’ 

The talented designer (above ) has no formal design or fashion training, and simply bought a sewing machine and learned to sew and perfect her skills using online YouTube tutorials

One of Nadine’s proudest moments was seeing Mel B in one of her designs. She said: ‘I grew up loving the Spice Girls so to see Scary Spice in one of my designs was mind blowing.’ Pictured, Mel B in a Nedine Merabi jumpsuit as she arrived as the America’s Got Talent Season 12 Kick off event in Los Angeles

All that glitters! Meghan Trainor sizzled in plunging sequined jumpsuit at Ellen DeGeneres’ 60th birthday celebration

‘I knew how I wanted it to look, but I was basically learning as I was making it, which is what I do most of the time.’ 

She continued: ‘Brooke was in a big story line at the time, so she was splashed all over the front pages of the newspapers with Sacha Parkinson and the dress got loads of exposure.’

Speaking of the other famous faces she’s dressed, Nadine said: ‘I have lots of celebrity clients including Catherine Tyldesley, Paloma Faith, Jade Thirlwall, Rochelle Humes, Meghan Trainor and Myleene Klass.’ 

Despite her success in the industry, Nadine never started out as a designer and actually worked as a freelance party planner, running events and promotions in Manchester.

‘I knew I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my career,’ explained Nadine. ‘It was around this time that I started hand sewing a few pieces, so I decided to bite the bullet and leave events to try my hand at designing. I had a couple of months wages under my belt to keep me going and just took the plunge.’

She added: ‘When I was working in events, I was getting ready for another party and felt deflated at having to wear something that didn’t make me feel special.’

‘I wanted to wear something different that nobody else had, without having to pay £2,000 or more.’ 

Nadine decided to bite the bullet and leave events to try her hand at designing. Above, the Dina and Lola dress from her collection

Nadine has lots of celebrity clients including Catherine Tyldesley (pictured), Paloma Faith, Michelle Keegan, Jade Thirlwall, Rochelle Humes, Meghan Trainor and Myleene Klass. Pictured,  Catherine Tyldesley at The British Soap Awards at The Lowry in Manchester

‘I was also finding women all around me wanting to get dressed up more and more often, whether they were going to hen-dos, weddings or parties, so I felt there was a real gap in the market.’

Nadine bought her first sewing machine back in October 2010 and while at first she didn’t even know how to thread it, she hasn’t looked back since. 

‘I spent the next two weeks at home watching YouTube tutorials and learning how to sew,’ explained the talented designer. 

‘One of the first nights I had it, I started sewing and didn’t finish until 3am – I was just so determined to complete a dress and was so excited to wear my own design for the first time.’ 

‘I love the satisfaction of working with my hands, feeling the fabric and seeing the designs come to life.’ 

After making two dresses in two weeks, a friend suggested that Nadine try and sell them in a pop-up store opening in Manchester.

‘I went a long to speak to the woman running it and she said I could have a rail in the December if I made more dresses,’ she explained. 

‘I ended up making 20 dresses in two months to sit on the rail – and none of them had zips, as I hadn’t mastered that skill just yet.’ 

Nadine started designing dresses after finding women all around her wanting to get dressed up more and more often – and felt there was a real gap in the market. Pictured the Nyla dress (left) and Stella gold dress (right)

And the fashion designer fondly remembers the first dress she ever sold – which got snapped off the rails during the launch of Merabi’s first collection in 2010.   

‘The first dress I ever made was a long black boob tube with a white stripe and it sold on the first night of the pop up,’ she explained.  

‘Among the 20 dresses I made for the pop up, there was a backless dress that’s still being manufactured now. Of course, it’s been tweaked and refined but it sells online as the DINA dress.’ 

Speaking of her first customer, Nadine explained: ‘Selling at the pop-up went on for two years and my first paying customer still buys a MERABI dress every December for her Christmas party.’

‘From the very beginning, the brand has kept on evolving and diversifying and our audience base has grown with it too; there are now women in their forties and fifties alongside girls of sixteen wearing my designs.’

‘The range has also evolved from full-on floor length evening gowns to shorter party dresses and jumpsuits and new collections, such as the RESORT range of lighter, summer pieces and MARRY ME IN MERABI that will be launched in June for weddings, hen dos and honeymoons.’   

Catherine Tyldesley was spotted arriving at the Mirror Ball in Manchester, looking like Jessica Rabbit, wearing Nadine’s red sparkled dress

Myleene Klass opted for a full-length black gown as she attended The Global Awards with Very.co.uk at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith on March 7, 2019 in London

Nadine started promoting her brand via social media – and the business has continued to grow from there. 

‘The pop-up was promoted on Facebook, as it was a time before Instagram, but when I met Blue Wilson and Nathan Alexander from BODA SKINS and formed a partnership with them in 2013, we officially launched the brand online and marketed it on Instagram,’ she explained.

‘We now have around 162,000 followers on Instagram and 60% of them are international, which means we do a lot of exporting, mainly to the United States.’

‘However, while the brand reaches a global audience, it stills retains the spirit, creativity and confidence that Manchester is famous for.’

And while she’s keeping shtum at the moment, the Manchester-based designer has revealed there are some exciting plans on the horizon. 

‘We’ve just signed up with a big PR agency in LA so we’re busy building relationships with stylists and A-listers in the States,’ she explained. ‘I’m also getting requests from top A-listers for bespoke pieces, so watch this space.’

Nadine admitted that there have been many proud moments to date, but she recalled one that particularly stands out in her memory. 

‘The first was right at the beginning when I saw a woman in a bar in Mayfair wearing MERABI,’ she explained. ‘I really wanted to go up to her and tell her I had designed her dress – but I didn’t. Now women across London are wearing my brand, but back then it was such a surreal moment.’ 

Lady in red! Demi Rose (above) flaunted her cleavage in a crimson number for a reception at a South African winery

Former Love Island contestant Laura Anderson donned a Nadine Merabi design as she attended International Day of the Girl gala at Annabel’s, Berkeley Square in Mayfair, London

‘The second was waking up one morning and looking at the Mail Online, only to see Mel B wearing one of my jumpsuits as she walked the red carpet with Simon Cowell and Heidi Klum on America’s Got Talent. I grew up loving the Spice Girls so to see Scary Spice in one of my designs was mind blowing.’

And boasting a famous clientele, Nadine’s design’s have featured at many glitzy events.   

‘My pieces have featured heavily at the NTAs and Soap Awards,’ she said. ‘Paloma Faith has performed in MERABI and Una Healy recently wore one of my designs. It’s great to have this kind of exposure, but for me it’s all about the designing.’ 

‘The most expensive piece I’ve sold was a bespoke dress for around £10,000. The materials cost a lot more and it took a lot of time to hand embellish it.’

Describing how no two days are the same in her job, she said: ‘I get to the studio at either 8am or 10am and because I’m involved in every aspect of the business, I can be in meetings a lot of the day around sales, marketing and e-com.’

‘I have great support around me now so I’m not sitting sewing every day, but I’m still very much designing and creating – and if I get to do this in my working day, it’s a great day.’

She continued: ‘I go to London tomorrow to help cast models for a photoshoot for the website and I’m there again for three days next week to oversee the shoot.’

Former Love Island star Ellie Brown was seen leaving Chotto Matte restaurant in Soho in one of Nadine’s designs 

Demi Rose is a fan of the brand and has worn dresses designed by Nadine on several occasions. Above, leaving the Beauty Awards with OK! 

‘However, I’m often travelling the world looking for new fabrics, embellishments and inspiration for my designs or holding influencer events and running pop-up stores in UAE and the US. Just recently I was attending the Oscars events in LA.         

Now, Nadine’s business has grown by 400% in just three years and she will reach around £1.5m turnover by the end of 2019. 

‘The brand sells inhouse, online through www.nadinemerabi.com and in around 60 stockists worldwide, with just one stockist in each area to retain an air of exclusivity,’ explained Nadine. ‘We’re also exporting a lot too to regions such as the United States, the Middle East and Australasia – it’s really exciting.’

She added: ‘The whole process has been amazing and I’ve taken inspiration from the strength, power and creativity of the women in my life, including my clients. 

‘I can’t count the number of times a client has come to a private fitting with the belief that they would never be able to wear “glamorous” clothing. It takes a lot of bravery to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new.’ 

‘After trying on a few designs the transformation can be amazing. Women go from believing “I could never wear that” to feeling a million dollars. A dress doesn’t control your self confidence in life, but it can genuinely help your confidence for the night.’

Source: Read Full Article