It was only a few months ago, left exhausted by exhibiting her work at London Fashion Week, that Burnley fashion designer Carrie-Ann Kay decided to call time on her career.
After four days of no sleep and unable to afford food and petrol she took to Facebook to break the news to her friends and contacts that she was going out on a high.
But the reaction she received was not what she had been expecting. Within minutes her Facebook page was deluged with comments from fans of her quirky style telling her not to give up on her dream.
Three months on the former Habergham High School pupil has thrown herself into work and it appears to be paying off. Carrie-Ann has been inundated with requests from celebrities while her clothes made headlines at the National Television Awards when they were worn by the stars of reality show The Valleys.
The self-confessed workaholic, who devotes upwards of 13 hours a day, seven days a week to her Rene K label, named as a tribute to the late grandma who taught her to sew, also has plans to launch a children’s clothing range and a swimwear line later this spring.
“When I said I was giving up, all my friends in the fashion industry were saying you can’t give up. How long do you carry on for the love of something? I had no money to live.
“I tried a couple of temp jobs in between but it wasn’t for me. Then I thought making clothes in my nice cosy studio at home wasn’t the worst job I could have.
“I’m a bit of a technophobe so I started researching social media and it’s gone from there. It’s really taken off on Twitter. I’ve had celebrities getting in touch through Twitter.”
It was as a child that Carrie-Ann discovered a love of sewing. Her grandma Rene taught her the craft and used to make teddy bears for children’s charities.
“When she died I inherited her sewing machine and took it with me to university.
“When I finished university I needed money and had just £50 which I used to buy fabric. I would take the garments to boutiques and get orders from them. I used to take my clothes on the train.”
After The Valleys girls were snapped wearing Rene K, Carrie-Ann’s email went into overdrive. Although Heat magazine ran a photograph with the heading “what were they thinking,” the publicity saw Carrie-Ann receive 200 emails in 24 hours.
She has sent clothes to the stars of The Only Way is Essex, Made In Chelsea, former Westlife singer Brian McFadden’s model and DJ wife Vogue.
“Every day is different. You’d think making clothes would be glamorous but it’s hard work.
“The things I was making before were very quirky, for fashion shows and catwalks but like many artists, I was torn between the thinks we like and the things that will sell so I can afford food.
“I get my inspiration from all over. My customers will send me pictures of the kind of thing they want and ask me to merge them to make one outfit.
“They’ll send me their measurements and I’ll make it for them, it’s couture.”