An Interview with Debbie Le ‘thefashionablepan’

An Interview with Debbie Le ‘thefashionablepan’

Debbie and I met for drinks very early in her Instagram journey.  Even then it was very apparent as to how big her personality was.  She is open, honest, (as you will gather from her interview), swears a fair bit and has a huge passion for Fashion.  

Debbie is an Instagram success and went from 1k to 26k followers in just little over a year.  It is fair to say that she has truly captured the hearts and minds of many women (and probably a fair few men!) and helped a fair few of us buy clothes that we would not have otherwise considered. Her instagram story is inspiring and she talks openly about her journey, so go take a look.

1: Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m 41 years old and a Mum to 2 small children, Roman 4 and Rosie 2. We live in Kent with my fiancé who I call ‘the hubby!’  We’ve been engaged for 6 years and do want to get married, at some point but important things keep getting in the way.  Like the huge house extension we had done last year – I chose to have that over a wedding. 

I gave up my career in fashion to stay at home with the kids.  It has been amazing but I do miss my job.  I loved being a buyer and stylist.  The excitement each day and each season, seeing new trends and what items were selling and popular plus planning my outfits each day for work! I miss the buzz and the creativity of it. Instagram has given me a taste of work again, which I now get to do around the children! 

2: How long have you been instagramming?

I started my Fashion Instagram account in March 2017.  Since then it has become incredibly busy and I now treat it like a full time job.

3: You were a Fashion Buyer, Consultant and Stylist, what do you miss the most about these jobs?

As I mentioned earlier, I miss the buzz! I absolutely loved my job. I’ve always worked and began my career in fashion on the shop floor as a Saturday girl and basically worked my way up from there to become a buying director to an award winning independent store that had 7 shops in London.

I studied fashion at LCF and also did an intensive buying course with Peter Fleming. In this industry I believe it’s more who you know that helps you build a successful career.  I miss my Job as a buyer the most. Seeing what was coming in for next season and going on all my buying trips really excited me. The perks of a buyer are AMAZING! Oh the “free shit” back then was incredible! If only there was Insta stories when I was working!

It was through my role as a buying director which led to the consultancy work. I worked on a years contract buying for Dublin, Düsseldorf, and Glasgow airport. It was a totally different experience but so much fun and gave me a real insight into travel retail.

I’m not a trained stylist. I’m self taught. Through my years of experience on the shop floor as a sales manager, merchandiser and as a buyer, I created my own styling business, which I incorporated into the store. 

Photo Credit Glenn Norwood @glennnorwood

4: Your followers on Instagram have grown dramatically and quickly. Why do you think this is and how do you balance this with family life?  

I get asked this a lot and I know it’s one of those things your mum says to you but ‘just be yourself!’ I’ve just been me. And I’m not everyone’s cup of tea but that’s ok. It’s been hard finding that balance especially with the growth and I don’t know if I ever will find the right balance, but right now I’m seizing the moment and enjoying every minute as you never know what will happen tomorrow. 

5: How much time would you say you spend on-line? 

A LOT!

6: You talk very openly about sex and your husband – does he mind?

No he’s absolutely cool about it! He just wishes he got more of it! It’s something we all do so why shy away from it? Just some of us get more than others and some of us are just too damn tired all the time.  My sex mojo has vanished.  I keep getting told that’ll it come back but it’s been 4 years and it ain’t come back. I’m too tired for that shit. I got other things to be thinking about – like shopping! Mind you, I do give in to the hubby when I need a new outfit!

7: How would you describe your style? Would you say you have a signature look? If yes what is it?

If I had to say then I would say I’m quite classic with a nod to the trends. I love suits and co-ords as they’re so easy to put together and wear as separates. However, I’m never afraid to try anything. Fashion should be fun! 

8: Where do you get your style inspiration from?

Everywhere! From Instagram, to Pinterest, to magazines to friends and strangers! I just love people watching and looking at what they are wearing! I’m more likely to remember what someone has worn than their name!

9: Who are your biggest influencers? Who do you admire the most and why?

My biggest influencer is my mum. She was a seamstress and I learnt to sew from her! My mums a stroke patient so her style has changed massively to suit her needs but she was a fucking incredible dresser and had amazing style especially in her prime.  

I admired my mum and loved it when she came to school to pick me up or meet my teachers or when my friends came over as they were all so impressed when they met her! Most of my classic style comes from her. My hat, scarf and red lipstick rule comes from her.  I hope to be as inspiring to Rosie and Roman! I’m going to keep all my investment pieces for my Rosie.

10: Who or what inspired you to do what you are doing?

I felt like I lost my way and my identity when I became a mum. I suffered with PND with my first and that contributed to my lack of desire to look good and feel good about myself. I was that Mum who wore the same boring shit everyday and the only time I would really make an effort was when I went out, which wasn’t that often.

I knew it wasn’t me and it made me really sad and depressed. And I missed my job. But knew I wanted to stay at home with the kids. It was a real battle in my head. Going on Instagram and knowing that I had to do ‘daily outfit shots‘ forced me to think about my wardrobe and what to wear each day.  Slowly it gave me the confidence that I had when I was working and now I’m back to wearing what I love and feeling good about myself everyday. There’s still days that I can’t be bothered but on the whole it’s been positive! In fact – AMAZING. 

11: What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?

The Fashion Instagram Community is incredibly lovely and supportive. Women supporting each other and just being really kind and encouraging. On the flip side I’ve seen some playground shit going on. I’ve lost followers along the way who have surprised me but it’s all ok. I don’t take these things personally. Everyone has their reasons and people change. So if people choose to unfollow you for any reason. Let it be and move on. There’s always other lovely women who will find you inspiring. 

12: What is the best advice for handling Criticism?

It depends on what is said but if it’s constructive and meant in a nice way, then thank them, learn from it, change if you feel it’s right and move on. If it’s rude and nasty, then ignore and don’t entertain it – or block them! Do not entertain keyboard warriors. That’s what they love. A reaction, drama. I don’t have time for that shit. I have enough drama in my life with the hubby and two kids! 

Photo Credit Glenn Norwood @glennnorwood

13: What do you love / not love about Instagram?

Instagram has been absolutely amazing for me. The best has to be the women I’ve met! Some who have become really good friends. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities and gifts I’ve been blessed with. Honestly, I’m so grateful for them all. I never expected any of this when I joined Instagram so I don’t take any of it for granted. 

My one criticism is that it can be addictive! You go onto look at one thing and before you know it you’ve been on it for 3 hours!

14: What advice do you have for those starting out in the world of fashion and instagram?

Be yourself. Work hard. Be nice. Be kind. 

Stay in your lane! You will bloom. In your own time and don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you want to know something – Ask! 

 

I hope that you have enjoyed finding out more about Debbie AKA the Pan and her Instagram journey.  A fabulous lady with a heart of gold. As always any feedback and comments appreciated.

Love Chet x

Belfast Photo Credit @glennnorwood, Main Photo taken in Milan by @kasia_clark

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