A wrap on success

Gillian McAinsh

A SEXY yet comfortable dress is flying off the shelves with its Port Elizabeth designer bustling to keep up with international demand since she started manufacturing just over a year ago.

From being a one-woman business, fashion-lover Heather Crompton now has a small team of seamstresses sewing the multi-way wrap dress under her label, Chocolates for Breakfast.

“It is so exciting, I still can’t quite believe it!” said Crompton. “I am absolutely passionate about my brand and business and I am so proud to be manufacturing here and in a small way contributing to the growth of our economy and also job creation.”

Dresses so far have been exported to the US, Australia, England, New Zealand and even Azerbaijan.

“One of my Australian customers loved the dress she ordered so much she asked if she could gain distribution rights for Chocolates for Breakfast Australia. Her first shipment of stock – all proudly made right here in Port Elizabeth – will be flying over to Perth this week and she opens her studio in September.”

Part of the appeal of the CFB wrap dress is that it can be worn in 10 different ways, is available in three lengths as well as in a full-cut skirt option, with or without a built-in boob-tube top, and has two dozen colour options.

“We manufacture sizes small to XXX-large and everything in between, so there really is a dress for every woman,” said Crompton.

Made from viscose lycra “they are super comfy and so flattering”.

Crompton started her CFB brand five years ago with a range of home decor products and bags, but she wanted to move back into fashion – her first love – once her youngest son started preschool last year. The dress is based on a Halston design from the ’70s: “I have adapted it so our dress has a very secure, built-in bodice which the original design didn’t have so our design is not only gorgeous on, but also comfortable and flattering.”

Colours change seasonally and CFB Woman also does custom colours for events and weddings, with the fullcut maxi version popular with brides and bridesmaids.

Crompton said CFB’s website and Facebook page brought in many orders from abroad.

“This is very exciting and I am hoping to open a branch or studio in England also soon. We will be opening a home studio in Johannesburg.”

Happy customers mean as much to the designer as commercial success: “I have had women in tears in my office telling me how many years it has been since they were able to wear a dress and how pretty they feel.

“I want not only my message to women about how beautiful each of them is to get out there, but also want local designers to be encouraged that they don’t have to move away to become successful.

“There is a growing community of Port Elizabeth designers who are manufacturing fantastic fashion here.”

The dresses retail for between R500 and R590.

ýFind CFB’s dresses at Swushh in Richmond Hill or online.

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