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How Kate Middleton Almost Made a Fashion Brand Go Under

On the surface, British designer Daniella Helayel's recent rise in popularity sounds like a Cinderella story. After its 2003 launch, her tiny label Issa could be found in a select few boutiques, but her main source of income was private clients, a few of which were celebrities. She wasn't exactly struggling, but not wildly successful either. It wasn't until November 2010, when Kate Middleton wore an Issa design to the globally covered press conference announcing her engagement to Price William that the brand was truly in demand. Or to be more precise, the exact royal blue wrap dress the future Duchess owned was truly in demand, which is were the problems began.

According to the Issa's current chairwoman, Camilla Al Fayed (also, FYI, the daughter of department store Harrods' former owner, Mohamed, and the half-sister of Dodi Al Fayed, who died in the 1997 car accident that killed William's mother, Princess Diana), the sudden influx of orders nearly caused the company to go under. "It absolutely sky-rocketed the brand on a global scale, but it was too much," she's quoted as saying  by Vogue UK. "Demand was so huge the business couldn't cope. If Kate wears a Zara dress, these huge companies have the backing to follow through. Issa was basically run by interns, students and Daniella [Helayel, the label's founder and designer]. There was no business model."

Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending, even if it isn't exactly the fairy tale you thought. After going through a few years of requisite growing pains, it now sells a huge assortment of pieces on several major e-commerce sites, including Net-a-porter, Shopbop and its own platform, Issalondon.com. And yes, they all carry K-Mid's preferred style, because three years later, it's still selling out.

dress left: Twist Front Dress, $595, Issa, shopbop.com

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