With the wedding season upon us what better way to celebrate Asian fashion than with an exclusive interview with a fresh face on the North West fashion scene, Manchester based designer Maria Atchia.

If you fancy an East meets West look with the choice of traditional designs on a budget, Designs by Maria Atchia are perfect for you.

With Maria launching her new summer collection this month I couldn’t resist the temptation and went along to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester for her fashion shoot. In between the lights, camera and action Maria took time out to talk to the Asian Image about the fashionista world.

Nazia: Ho did it all begin?.

Maria: “As most people living in the region will know it’s really hard to get decent Asian wear in the North-West, you either have to spend lots of money travelling to London or you have to go abroad. I really wanted to do something about this frustration faced by many.

The fashion market in general is very risky as you need to be reputable in order to get a healthy clientele’. I took a great risk, I gave up my job! Initially I graduated from a fashion buying degree and was lucky enough to get a position as a fashion buyer for a large company but I just felt like I wasn’t achieving what I wanted to.

I really wanted to help the community I live in by using my creativity. I learnt a lot of valuable skills in the fashion buying role which have helped me make great decisions for my own fashion line.

Nazia: Talk me through the process and what makes ‘Designs By Maria Atchia’ so unique?.

Maria: “Well firstly I design all my clothes my self and have a team in Pakistan who take charge of making my designs.

The great thing is I hand pick the material for my collections from Pakistan but each outfit is different in its own way so no one outfit looks exactly the same due to the dying of the material and difference in hand embroidery.

If all that’s not enough I name each outfit after somebody special; friends, family members or someone who’s really made an impression on me- the pink one is named after you Nazia!”.

Nazia: Wow I have an outfit named after me, I love it! Thank you J It seems like a great career choice.

Maria: “It is and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I get plenty of holidays, I’ve just come back from Pakistan but best of all my customers are happy with all the hard work put into their outfits.

Prices for outfits start from £70.00 and the most expensive outfit I have at the moment is £250.00. Judging by the market at the moment I have tried to keep my costs to a minimum whilst giving my customers great, affordable designs they can mix and match and wear the way they want.

Now I have clients all across the world as far and wide as South Africa, America and Europe.

My friends think I have the best job in the world; meeting models, organinsing shoots, taking trips to Pakistan but I always say to them it’s a cut throat business it’s really not all that glamorous!

It’s my passion for fashion and the North West that keeps me going and that is what a fashion designer needs, the desire to make a difference.

Nazia: What tips would you give to anyone starting out in this business?.

Maria: “If you want to get into the fashion world you really need to be creative but I feel that you also need business acumen and a good financial head, something which often people forget.

With the recession hard hitting I took the option to make use of many local contacts to get free services such as, models, makeup, hair, photography, jewellery and shoes- these are the kind of ideas you need to think of to overcome any obstacles.

We all benefit as they or their business get recognised and they gain experience from taking part in a professional shoot, giving them great coverage.

You also need a lot of support and honest friends who can really criticise your work to make you strive to do better!

My family have been extremely supportive, I must admit when I initially started out they were a little worried as they didn’t know if it would be a success, but now my parents are so happy I made this choice it is great!

Nazia: You have already achieved so much what next for the world of Maria Atchia and your only 24?.

Maria: “Yes well it was my birthday last week, I still keep thinking I’m 23! Currently I work from home and am in the process of setting up a website where people can view my designs.

I have a Facebook group set up as well which Asian Image readers can become a fan of to see my designs.

Currently I am very busy and have a long waiting list, proving how popular and in-demand my designs are, so things I hope can only get better!”

A huge thank you to Maria Atchia for taking time out for the Asian Image and for naming an outfit after me! To purchase the pink outfit just quote: NAZIA (I could really get use to all this fame!).

Maria is based in Chorlton in Manchester. If you want to book a design consultation or just want some more information call: 07845 573 592

Photographys courtesy of: Natasha Harris Models: Annika Syed, Anaeka Sodha and Maqsoom Ali Makeup: Fatima Afzal; Hair: Reha Akhtar Location: Whitworth Art Gallery, off Oxford Road, Manchester, Shoes: Shoeunique, Manchester; Jewellery: Cash Collections, Manchester.