Trish Peng is the creative director of her eponymous custom-made evening and bridal gown business. She also launched a ready-to-wear collection at this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week.

What was your journey to starting your own fashion business?

Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a designer. At school we didn't have sewing classes so I did a part-time diploma every Monday night.

I then enrolled at Whitecliffe College, where I did a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in fashion design, and it was in my third year of study in Jan 2012 where I launched my label at Stonyridge Vineyard, Waiheke Island, where I put together a collection in eight weeks and showed 25 pieces.

I then grew the business on the side while I was studying - producing custom made evening wear and bridal gowns for clients out of my showroom at home and started to build up a clientele from there.

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How did your business develop after you graduated?

After graduation I lived in LA and New York for a year to get some more experience in the fashion industry over there. It was about trying to open some doors, as that's where I would like to take my brand as there are more opportunities there, especially with red carpet events.

While I was in the US I was lucky enough to be a part of the New York Fashion Week social media team, and also spent some time working at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York in their evening wear department. That experience was about meeting people and building a clientele.

Your main business is custom made gowns but you also sell online. How does that work?

Digital agency Pocket Square helped me create a website where customers from anywhere in the world can visit, choose an evening gown, type in their measurements and the dress they've ordered will be sent to them within 10 days.

We're still developing the concept; after launching it we've realised some people in New Zealand are still a bit hesitant about the concept of supplying their own measurements so we're trying to develop that side of the online process to be easier.

What was behind your decision to also launch a ready-to-wear line?

In New Zealand the market is quite small and there are only a certain number of events that require an evening gown, so I thought let's cater for every woman and do an accessible ready-to-wear range that my friends or customers could wear everyday that's more affordable.

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A few stockists in New Zealand and internationally have approached me since fashion week to stock the new range, which is exciting.

What would you ultimately like to see your business become?

My ultimate dream is to be like Vera Wang - to build an empire with a full couture range of evening, bridal, ready-to-wear and other product lines.

Coming up in Small Business: How do you figure out what to pay yourself as the owner of a business? What are some of the different guidelines you've used and why? If you've got a story to tell on the topic, drop me a note: nzhsmallbusiness@gmail.com.