Nothing was going to stop Sarah Bond from achieving her mission of becoming a fashion designer.
She escaped a coup in Sierra Leone as a teenager, juggled a financial career in Canary Wharf with studying fashion and spent years saving up so she could start her own high-end label.
Launched in 2016, her bold designs have featured in Cosmopolitan and been worn by Katie Piper.
Her target market? Career-driven Warrior Women who, like herself, know how to overcome obstacles.
“Power dressing today is not as extreme as it was in the 1980s when women felt they needed to act and dress like men,” said the 38-year-old.
“Now they are intelligent, confident women who get on with their careers and want to reflect that in the way they dress.
“The new form of power dressing is about embracing your unique femininity and packing a punch with carefully selected pieces.”
Born in Wimbledon and raised in Sierra Leone, she began designing clothes aged 10 after discovering the fashion world through CNN program Style With Elsa Klensch, which ran from 1980 to 2001.
“It had such an impact on me, I felt it was where I belonged and would avidly watch every episode and all the interviews with the great designers and that pretty much sealed the deal for me.”
She dreamed of one day being a designer, even when her family had to leave Sierra Leone because of the civil war sparked by the 1991 coup.
She said: “Every summer we would travel and one year we were in Lebanon and my dad just said: ‘Don’t come back’.”
She didn’t give up even when her father dashed her dream of taking up a place at the London College of Fashion because he was worried about her moving to the capital alone.
“I was so miserable, really depressed,” said Sarah. “But now, looking back, he was right because it is a tough world out there.”
Instead she gained a degree in business and politics but said no matter how hard she tried to “knuckle down” her love for fashion never went away.
After moving back to London in 2001, exactly 10 years after she left, she set up home in Mile End and started a career in finance as a market analyst for Canary Wharf institutions such as HSBC, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank and then as a trader.
But in between the frenzy of the trading floor she spent every spare hour studying fashion and interning at Katherine Hamnett, Rouland Mouret and Savile Row tailor Chris Flourentzou.
Sarah said: “I always wanted to do fashion but I was also realistic with myself as I wanted to have good business skills for the day I opened up my own label and to earn a good wage so I could put money side for when it was time to start investing in myself.”
She took the plunge in 2016, launching her eponymous ready to wear label.
The Ealing resident said: “I knew I wanted to cater to the international market of high flying career women who get on with life and overcome obstacles and are just all round Warrior Women.
“When I was there, women in Canary Wharf didn’t invest much in what they wore.
“It was the same pencil skirt with a jacket or trousers. Nothing that stood out and a lot of women complained about that. That gave me real focus for my designs.
“I had also spent a lot of time sitting at computer terminals and found it difficult to find the right sort of shirt or jacket that made me feel comfortable throughout the day.
“I wanted to make clothes so comfortable they felt like a second skin while still elevating the wearer’s spirit.
“Like it or not, people will judge you on what you wear and it definitely affects your career prospects.
“I’m always thinking about that with my designs.”
Sarah’s tips for power dressing
-A great statement coat is important because when you walk into a meeting that is the first thing people see.
-Trouser suits are a great investment but make it something with a kick.
-Dresses that take you from day to evening. I don’t do trends so it is about what suits your body. A-line is very forgiving and accentuating the waist is lovely. Princess-line dresses are good as women grow older.
-Colour-wise red makes a statement. I’m also a big fan of navy and soft pinks.
Sarah’s collection can be viewed and purchased online at sarah-bond.com
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