How did Coco Chanel start designing?

An orphan in all practical senses, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was raised in a bare-bones boarding school, where the girls earned their keep by learning and plying the trade of the seamstress. After leaving the school/orphanage, she lived as a live-in mistress to a wealthy man who would (in joint effort with a man who was the Love of Chanel's Life) finance her first hat shoppe. She would parlay its success into an eventual empire.