Sheena’s evolution in budget fashion

CREATIVE mum Sheena Brabazon has always been a bit of a clothese junkie, using her fashion sense to conjure up new outfits for herself.

So she decided to set up in business and offer her services to other women.

The 52-year-old, who says she has been experimenting with clothes since she was a little girl, has launched Evolution Accessory Workshops.

She said: “I’ve always helped out family and friends with accessorising their outfits but it never seemed the right time to launch a business until now.”

“I started experimenting with accessories in my early teens, mainly because the style I liked wasn’t available on the high street and I’ve always had to work to a very tight budget.”

“Now that times are tough for a lot of people I think the knowledge I can pass on about using accessories to transform an outfit is even more useful.”

“I can help women to look good for a fraction of what they would normally spend and in a way that expresses their individuality.”

Sheena, of Plantation Avenue, North Anston, says she loves colour and bling. On the day we met she was wearing bright blue and purple and had diamanate shoe clips attached to her top as brooches, with chunky bracelets as cuffs on her sleeves.

She said her entire outfit, excluding the shoes, cost about £15.

“I really like charity shops and that’s where I got this skirt. It was a smock top in a size 20 but I really liked the colours in it so I bought it for £1.50, brought it home and made it into a skirt,” said Sheena.

“I don’t have a sewing machine because I can’t stand sewing but I am prepared to put a few stitches in things here and there to make them into something different. It’s very simple and if I can do it, anybody can.”

Sheena said that while she is a fan of TV fashion guru Gok Wan she sometimes thinks he is out of touch with ordinary women’s budgets.

“I love what he does but he’ll say he bought a ‘cheap’ scarf for £35 and I’m thinking I’d want two whole outfits for that,” she said.

She believes in shopping locally and supporting independent businesses and is also a big fan of markets.

“Markets and haberdasheries are a great place to find things. I shop in Dinnington as well as checking out what the latest trends are on the high street,” she said.

“I shop a bit online and occasionally I will go into John Lewis.”

“The things I am prepared to spend money on are shoes, because it’s important to look after your feet. I will also spend more to get a well-cut jacket, but then maybe I’ll change the buttons or add accessories to make it look different from everyone else’s.”

Sheena, who has two grown-up sons in their 20s, said the most important factor to take into account when helping women with their clothes is their personality.

“You have to take into account body shape and colouring, but the most important thing is personality. If someone doesn’t feel confident in what they are wearing then they won’t look good in it,” she said.

“I have a big personality but I can’t wear big jewellery because I’m not large enough physically, so I wear small jewellery but more of it. You can layer necklaces for instance or add bits of bling to your outfit to reflect your personality.”

Sheena holds the workshops at her home and says they are proving popular.

She normally has four to six people but she will also travel to bigger venues where she will take a group of up to 12. A two-hour workshop costs £45, including a £5 goodie bag, and a four-hour one costs £60 with a £10 goodie bag.

“I like to spend time giving advice to each person and also encourage the group to give feedback. I ask each lady to bring something with them from home which they don’t wear and we aim to transform it into something they will wear.”

“I also do belt and bag-making workshops where they can choose from lots of different accessories to jazz up a belt or bag.”

Sheena said women shouldn’t feel under pressure to look good all the time. “I know that women don’t want to dress up every day, sometimes we just want to be casual. If I am feeling a bit subdued I wear more subdued colours and that reflects how I am feeling,” she said.

Sheena said clothes swapping parties - or ‘swishing’ parties as she says the latest buzzword refers to them - are also proving popular at the moment and she is involved with one taking place at Cavells Cafe Bar in Sheffield on 28th July, 8-10pm.

For more information about that event or about Sheena’s workshops go to her website at www.evolutionaccessoryworkshops.co.uk