Dara Stringham

I am a women’s tailor and designer, mother to three girls and live in London with my partner of 22 years. I have always been passionate about clothing and the power it has to make us feel great in our skin. Wearing the right outfit can lift us up, help us to stand out or blend in as circumstance requires. I now work as a bespoke women’s tailor creating garments for my clients that allow them to feel the best version of themselves.

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before the venture/ corporate journey? 

I grew up in Germany from the age of 1. My family is British-Canadian-American and so there were subtle cultural differences in my home life compared to that of my peers. I started making my own clothes as a teenager, went on to complete an apprenticeship in haute couture and finally got a BA in Fashion Design at the University of Westminster in London.

Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business/initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”

I’ve always felt ambivalent about working in the fashion industry because it places so much pressure on women to conform to usually unattainable beauty ideals. At the same time I love clothing and the power it has to help us express our personalities and inspire us on a day to day basis. Initially I wanted to create a collection designed and offered in a wide range of sizes, but quite organically I moved into bespoke design. 

Bespoke tailoring allows me to dress the woman in front of me and to achieve the perfect fit no matter her shape or size. Rather than having to alter her shape to fit a particular size the clothes are cut to fit her as she is. The impact this has on my clients is profound. In society women are all too often forced to shrink themselves instead of taking up the space they deserve. My aim for each of my clients is to make them feel beautiful in the shape they are – staying true to my motto: There is no perfect size, only the perfect fit.

Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?

My goal is to help women dress with impact and comfort. Something that men have had access to for a long time. Feeling completely comfortable in your clothes releases energy and time for other things. I want to dress professional women and help them progress in their careers by designing clothes that help them feel like they belong in the boardroom of their company.

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?

I completed my apprenticeship with top marks, and my graduate collection at university was selected to be shown at Graduate Fashion week as well as being featured in the Guardian and Evening Standard newspapers. More recently I was shortlisted for small business of the year at the ‘Women Who Do’ awards and have won Corporate Live Wire’s ‘Women’s Tailor of the Year’ in both 2021 and 2022.

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?

I would like to see gender parity achieved across all sectors. When women are truly equal with men in economic as well social and cultural terms the world will be a better place.

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?

Statistics show that companies with diverse leadership teams are more successful than those still relying on an exclusively white male C-suite. Promoting different ethnicities and genders to the top of companies isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense too. I hope this knowledge leads to accelerated change in the next decade. 

What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

Being passionate about what you do is not enough – even when you love your job there are days when things are tough. Build resilience and always take action to move yourself forward, no matter how small. Don’t be afraid to fail and ask for help!