Kladek | Taking The Plunge 

“I try to stay level-headed when it comes to highs and lows. I think the importance is to be constant and to keep going. I’m an optimist, so when possible I prefer to see any low as a challenge to be overcome.” Frida Hoffman-Clark, Founder of Kladek 

There’s a beautiful simplicity that runs throughout Kladek’s bridal offering, not to mention a refreshingly contemporary vibe that the modern bride will instantly relish in. Frida Hoffman-Clark (the founder and creative mind behind the new bridal label) explains that part of the brand’s beginnings stem from her own experience as a bride: “I knew that I wanted to wear my dress and not be worn by it. My goal was to be an elevated version of myself, wear beautiful fabrics and most importantly feel comfortable and confident, so I could dance all night, eat and have fun.” And, it’s crystal clear that this need has been elegantly threaded into the seams of every piece created by the brand, from Collection 1.0 to the latest line, 2.0. Every beautifully sculpted cropped jacket, voluminous statement sleeve and graceful dart has been purposely placed and crafted to truly celebrate the bride wearing the piece – to become part of her bridal look, rather than the bridal look. I managed to catch up with founder Frida herself to talk about her business journey so far and her version of Taking The Plunge, including the highs, the lows, the first jobs, the worst jobs and the tech she can’t live without…  

Name: Frida Hoffman-Clark

Business: KLADEK

Date you took the plunge: September 2022

Kladek’s Founder, Frida Hoffman-Clark’s own bridal look

#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?

“KLADEK is a contemporary bridal wear brand that combines French craftsmanship and a relaxed British fashion-forward attitude. We offer a bespoke design service, as well as collections on a made-to-order basis, with a focus on minimal and refined separates for the understated modern bride, who confidently dresses for herself. Our mission is to empower women by underlining their softer, more sensual side. All of our materials are sourced responsibly to ensure superior quality, because each garment should not only look, but feel beautiful.”

Kladek

#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry?

“I have always known that I wanted to run my own company as a fashion designer. With this goal in mind I have navigated all my professional choices. I have constantly been curious and keen to explore different areas linked to design and knew that when it came to running my own business I would need to have a good understanding of everything that comes after the design stage – or at least know how to ask the right questions. To start from the beginning, I am a UK trained womenswear designer with a focus on flou (draped pieces) and tailoring. I adore garment construction, which probably explains why I worked as a seamstress and as a pattern cutting lecturer before doing my master’s degree in womenswear design at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris. After having worked a few years in the industry for various luxury and haute couture companies in Paris, Amsterdam and London, I felt ready to challenge myself again and went back to the IFM for a second master’s degree in Luxury Management. I ended up working for Hermès for one year within their women’s leather goods development team. It was during this year that I realised how much I actually missed working with garments, although leather goods is magical, and started thinking about whether or not I should take the plunge…” 

Kladek

#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?

“When Dave (my husband) and I were planning our wedding, I naively thought that having a fashion-based background would make it easier to find an understated and minimal wedding look. Unfortunately, the majority of the traditional bridal options didn’t resonate with me at all. They either didn’t reflect my personal aesthetic or the quality was not what I hoped for. Although, I didn’t know what particular style I was looking for, I knew that I wanted to wear my dress and not be worn by it. My goal was to be an elevated version of myself, wear beautiful fabrics and most importantly feel comfortable and confident, so I could dance all night, eat and have fun. I decided to take matters into my own hands and made my own wedding look inspired by my mum’s wedding dress, which was made for her by her mum. I should probably mention that I made my sister’s wedding dress as well, so I suppose bridal has become a bit of a tradition in my family…” 

#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)

“I was working full-time and making my own wedding looks in the evenings. During this time, I was chatting to the ladies in my various work and friend circles who were either engaged, about to get married or had a genuine interest in the subject and found out that it wasn’t only me who had difficulties in finding a gown, but that all of us shared the same issue. One weekend, I said to Dave “listen, I have this idea, my instinct feels right and I did some research and I think it could work”. At this point, I have already worked out at least 3-4 different business ideas, including business plans in the past 3 years, but never got to the point of: THIS is it. His response was priceless and straight to the point “This is a really good idea, but this time, instead of overthinking it just start”. This was the starting point of KLADEK as a bridal wear brand.” 

Kladek

#5 Describe how the first day of building your own business felt:

“I don’t remember precisely which the first day of my business was. To me it felt more like a natural progression.” 

Kladek
Kladek, Collection 1.0

#6 The highs – what have they been so far?

“We are still a very young brand, we only launched our first collection at the end of January 2023. Since then some of the highs have been our first bespoke order, receiving sales enquires, securing a place at the You + Me Festival, which is a lovely trade show in Paris and experiencing all the wonderful support from family and friends.” 

Kladek
Kladek, Collection 1.0

#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?

“I try to stay level-headed when it comes to highs and lows. I think the importance is to be constant and to keep going. I’m an optimist, so when possible I prefer to see any low as a challenge to be overcome.”

Kladek

#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?

No.1 “Trust your instinct and back it up with research.” 

No.2 “Be patient. The work you put in will come back, maybe not instantly, but it will pay off.” 

No.3 “Don’t forget to look back. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment and stress about the future that we forget about how far we have already come.” 

Kladek
Kladek, Collection 1.0

#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Get up? Meditate? Read?)

“I will put on some ‘background noise’ on my iPad – most likely one of my favourite TV series, such as Friends or a David Attenborough documentary.” 

#10 Your top organisational tip?

“I love to draw a mind map with different categories and subcategories and then tick the points off as I go along.” 

#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?

“In business it would be Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. I love listening to her interviews and admire her persistence and grit, especially when she talks about the early days of Spanx. A more fashion related entrepreneur who I find inspirational is Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nastygal and author of Girlboss. I think it is really interesting to follow her path and to see how her motivation was not only to grow companies, but also how to use her voice and focus on a philanthropic approach to support other women in business.” 

Kladek

#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:

“My iPad and Apple Pencil. Although I was quite reluctant initially to sketch on an iPad, it has completely changed everything for me.” 

#13 Your first ever job was…

“My first job was to teach Latin and English after school…” 

#14 Your top social media tip?

“Find a way of posting relevant content regularly, without it taking up all of your time. I am still working on this…” 

Kladek

#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why…

“I would love to collaborate with the London based jewellery brand Alighieri. The brand has a beautiful design ethos, is rooted in craftsmanship and has an interesting way of combining modernity with a transgenerational approach to timelessness.” 

#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?

The Tythe Barn. It is the most wonderful, family run luxury barn and farmhouse in Launton, Bicester. We got married there last year and they have been so supportive of the brand’s launch ever since.” 

Kladek

#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.)

“For business I would say that Instagram is my preferred social media tool.” 

#18 Your advice to those looking to TAKE THE PLUNGE:

“First gain as much experience as you can and when you feel ready, go for it, so you don’t regret not having tried it!” 

Kladek
Kladek, Collection 1.0

KLADEK | RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS

#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read:

“Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!) How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by America’s Master Communicator by George Lois. My favourite bi-annual read is the Gentlewoman magazine.” 

#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?

“My go-to is a cappuccino with soy milk.”

#3 Instagram feed crush:

“Oh so many! Some of my favourites are Simone Bodmer-Turner, Castor Fleuriste, Denis Boulze, Imdad Barbhuyan, the list goes on and on!”

#4 Your worst job was…

“I don’t think I had a worst job if I’m honest, I think as hard/irritating/complicated some parts of a job can be in the moment, there is always either a useful lesson to be learned or a funny anecdote to be told.” 

#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?

“I think in this life I would not want to do anything else, but in the next I would consider becoming a patisserie chef.” 

#6 Work day pick-me-up:

“When I need to clear my head, a coffee and a walk and when I concentrate on studio work an episode of my favourite podcast ‘Table Manners’ by Jessie & Lennie Ware.” 

Kladek
Kladek, Collection 1.0

Discover more from this incredible new bridal designer and contemporary bridal brand and while you’re there check out Kladek’s Instagram or even more Taking The Plunge entries on Bridal Editor

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