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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Sara Christie: By Sara Christie

In the vibrant tapestry of the fashion world, Sara Christie weaves threads of resilience, elegance, and timeless style, her designs echoing the rich heritage and stories of her grandparents. Sara’s journey in fashion is a harmonious dance between tradition and innovation, a reflection of her grandparents' experiences as a seamstress and tailor in Kingston. Their lives, marked by the resilience and grace of the Windrush generation, have been the compass guiding Sara’s passion for fashion, shaping her understanding of style as a powerful narrative of self-confidence, acceptance, and respectability. In this interview, Sara unfolds the layers of her journey, revealing how her brand is a symphony of her values, her commitment to sustainability, and her homage to her ancestors. She shares the essence of her brand, the philosophy that drives her designs, and her vision for the future, offering a glimpse into the soul of her creations and the stories they tell.

Sara, can you share a bit about how your grandparents' experiences as a seamstress and tailor in Kingston influenced your passion for fashion?

My love affair with fashion began as early as I can remember, dressing up and adorning myself in pearls and satin. My grandparents, of the Windrush generation, have influenced my sense of style and attitude to dressing. Their style conveyed a sense of self-confidence, acceptance, and respectability, as well as a memory of life left behind.

Many of the British styles and cuts didn’t fit the body shapes and aesthetics of the Caribbean people, so my grandmother would alter and repair rather than replace, often making something from nothing. I loved her ability to repurpose and reconfigure clothing to fit.

Their style was never about comparison, money, possessions, or wearing the latest fashions. It was a way to rise above the stereotype in the face of hostility and to confidently step out with their head held high. I was always told to ‘Luk fi yuh bess an hole fi yuh head high’. It’s this very notion that we can empower and elevate ourselves, with less, that has shaped my style and inspired what I design and why.

You've mentioned the importance of pride in dressing well from your upbringing. How has this philosophy shaped the foundation of your brand?

Everything about my brand is personal. My story, my why, my values. For me personally, it’s how I’m holding myself. My upbringing is integral to who I am, what I do, and how I do it. Driven by where I have come from, seen, and given, powers me to create a beautiful brand that is honest and sustainable. A brand that I am proud of.

The importance of pride runs deeper than how I dress, it's how I do business. Taking pride in what I do and how I do it matters because it’s how I was raised. It matters to push beyond what is expected of me. It matters to do business my way, to set my own pace, and to define success subjectively, allowing me freedom from comparison.

My brand is like a love letter to my ancestors. To say thank you for their grace, sacrifice, and resilience. It matters to me not to waste my opportunity to follow my dream and build a beautiful brand upon foundations, built brick by brick by my courageous, spirited ancestors.

Taking pride in how I present myself and how I do business go hand in hand. I am proud of who I am, and who I am becoming. I know my father would be too.

Your early teenage purchase, the chiffon blouse, seems like a pivotal moment in your relationship with fashion. How do such moments of "quality over quantity" reflect in your current designs?

I’ve always wanted the best. Never wanting to compromise, rather save and wait for what I really wanted. Raised with little money, but plenty of love, I appreciate and respect the value in ‘Less is More’, buying better and really, really wearing it.

Saving for what I really want is part of the joy of receiving, cherishing, and wearing for many years to come. The gratification is part of the joy of buying. Sustainability is important to me. I have a responsibility like everyone else. Quality over quantity matters to me. It always has.

My mission is to impact your buying habits, inviting you to take your time, buy less, invest in quality, and really really wear it. Which is why I design pieces that are bold, whilst versatile, timeless in design that transcend seasons, giving you the perfect everyday accessory, designed to last, making them a great investment buy.

I believe just a few new additions every now and then to complement your existing wardrobe in a creative way will give you clarity and confidence in both your decision making and style statements. My accessories are potent tools that can give a pre-loved outfit a new configuration and extend the life of your clothes.

Too much stuff is simply a waste and blinds you to what's already there. Having less will identify and define your style. I believe you can create better outfits.

Your final collection at Nottingham Trent University was inspired by the Windrush era. How has this historical connection informed the aesthetics or ethos of your brand today?

My grandmother Speidy and Aunty Judith had an elegance that was memorable. They were women of character and confidence. Classic in their approach to dressing, their style was simple yet significant. They had the ability to take something classic and re-imagine it and style it their way.

It’s this very idea of re-imagining classics that have inspired my collections. The Duchess collection is an example of this. The Duchess collection is a modern-day interpretation of the classic pearl necklace that my grandmother would love to wear. Oversized shiny balls of brass make this a classic with a twist. Its simplicity makes it elegant whilst its size and finish make it audacious.

The Windrush generation didn’t replace, rather repurpose and repair. It's this very idea that inspired my ‘Waste Not Want Not’ collection of small leather goods made from leather off-cuts from my mainline handbag collection.

Transitioning from a pattern cutter to a clothing designer at a young age must have been transformative. What was the biggest lesson from this time that still impacts your design decisions?

Gut instincts tell you everything. A change of direction is a move in the right direction. It’s never too late. I launched my brand at 42 years, whilst holding my new baby, amidst a global pandemic.

Creativity cannot be rushed or forced. We need to pause occasionally to get clarity on our design decisions. Power in the pause. It’s ok to make mistakes. We grow as we go. Who we were yesterday does not determine who we are today and are becoming.

Your time in India gave you a unique insight into the design and manufacturing processes. How has this knowledge shaped the production and ethical considerations of your brand?

My time spent here taught me the essential values of kindness, partnership, and friendship in business. Process, time, and cost: without these values, business has no joy or purpose at all.

During my time in India and China, fashion was getting faster, cheaper, and more reactive. Time and consideration for quality and design were being compromised, as manufacturers were being driven down on their price in favour of volume. Selling in large numbers was the priority, pushing down prices and ultimately squeezing manufacturers on their margins. This really jarred with me, as I understood what that meant for them in reality.

BYSARACHRISTIE is the antithesis of fast, reactive, throwaway fashion. Seeing firsthand the stresses manufacturing causes our planet, I made the decision to make my bags to order. My collection of handbags is made on a ‘Made to Order’ basis. Ordering responsibly to avoid waste is how the Sara Christie bags are being made. This means we only make exactly what you want. This eliminates wastage of materials and increases efficiency which is better for our planet.

By investing in your bysarachristie bag you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. I truly believe this is a more responsible way of working.

You've witnessed the high-speed evolution of the fashion industry firsthand. What was the driving force behind your decision to step away and create "seven design & consultancy"?

Having moved away from a global company, one key thing that was and is important to me was that I wanted to make it personal. I wanted to represent myself.

I started bysevendesign (Seven being my lucky number) which saw me offer my design + consultancy advice to other high street retailers. I was front of house and I was showcasing me and my creativity, knowledge + skills. I wanted to create a feeling of “it's personal, this is me”.

And my brand bysarachristie is no different. Lock-down provided time and space to think about what really matters. Changes. Debate. Reflection. Recognition. Realisation. Resetting.

For me personally, the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement empowered me to be brave and bold and my surprise second pregnancy propelled me to take action.

I was falling out of love with the constant demands for newness and the six seasons expectations. I was expecting my first child and the inflexibility encouraged me to take action.

Ultimately, this sparked my decision to leave the high street in 2017 and set up seven design & consultancy. Offering a bespoke package that included Trend, Design, sampling, and manufacturing. This saw me be involved in every stage of the process, which in turn created the time and space for me to think of designing my own collection of handbags and accessories.

My inspiration and motivation would be designs that were timeless in character and quality and elevated from seasonality and fast fashion. I decided that season-less simplicity, versatility, and style should be at the very core of my brand.

"Seasonless simplicity, versatility, and style" — can you expand on how these core principles manifest in your handbags and accessories?

Having designed for six seasons per year, witnessing huge seasonal markdowns and waste, I wanted to design pieces that transcend seasons. Simple in their design yet significant in their impact. Versatile – day to night, dress up or down. Designed with purpose and function. Grab and go bags that work with you as you navigate your day. Jewelry that quickly and effortlessly breathes new life into your existing, pre-loved wardrobe. Made to last – designed to be relevant today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Just a few new additions every now and then to complement your existing wardrobe in a creative way will give you clarity and confidence in both your decision making and style statements. An accessory can be a potent tool. They can give a pre-loved outfit a new configuration. They extend the life of your clothes. They elevate and update a simple look effortlessly. They can alter the attitude of your outfits with ease. They can create a style that packs a punch, that gets a second look, that makes you feel confident and chic and individual.

The chain reaction, quite literally with your statement chain, was a significant starting point for you. How do you envision the evolution of your products in the future?

We grow as we go. The chain reaction has opened up my imagination of dressing with ease.

With just a few key statement pieces you can transform your look and mood effortlessly which is why I am currently working on my Wrap and Go leather trench coat. A classic addition that will not only give you many styling opportunities, but one that will always look good.

Your handbag collection promises to be "stand out" and "sensual." Can you walk us through the process of conceptualising and materialising one of your favourite designs?

The entrepreneur laptop bag which I am currently updating is my most used bag and one of my best sellers.

Why? Because The entrepreneur bag has it all. Everything is taken care of so you can navigate your day and work remotely. The comfortable wide shoulder strap is detachable so it can double up as an oversized clutch, taking you from desk to dinner. During my early months of setting up my business I would remove my laptop in exchange for nappies.

Womanhood means being multifaceted with an ability to shapeshift throughout the day. We are Professionals and Mothers and Sisters and Friends…. We aren’t one person to all.

We stand for the And. Not the or.

Being an entrepreneur is neither a part-time or full-time job, it’s a lifestyle. LIVE IT.

Given the story-driven nature of your brand, how do you hope your customers connect with your products on a personal level?

I am BYSARACHRISTIE. I am real, honest and transparent with my entrepreneurial journey. I'm not a cold marketing brand. My brand has heart and soul. It connects with like-minded women on so many levels. I share my wins and well as my blips, my struggles with the demands of motherhood and balancing business and boys.

I am relatable and my desire to want to feel good and step out in confidence is what I want for others too.

Testimonials and the wonderful comments I receive are proof that my customers have a personal connection to my brand for many reasons.

First day in a new job and wore The Boss necklace and carried The entrepreneur laptop bag and felt empowered.

I felt like a queen wearing your jewellery.

The fashion industry is continuously evolving. Where do you see the "By Sara Christie" brand in the next five years?

The past 3 years have been truly amazing and exciting and my vision for the future is limitless.

BYSARACHRISTIE has reached the far corners of the globe. My collections have been picked up and styled in magazines, music videos, worn by celebrities, and loved by both women and men all over.

The beauty of tomorrow isn’t just about business though, I am tapping into hope, positivity, and beauty to create a platform to give back and support the next generation.

It feels good and as I grow, I ask myself the question how do I inspire as a Mother, as a sister, and a black woman in business? By stepping into my own power with ease and grace. There is power in recognising and saying ‘yes’ that’s a good opportunity and no, this isn’t big enough or it’s not the right vibe.

I want to expand creatively and peacefully by way of continually

You can shop the full collection from BYSARACHRISTIE over at