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Fashion Designer Launches Baby & Kids Clothing Venture

posted 25 Oct 2017, 07:39 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 25 Oct 2017, 07:39 ]
Fashion entrepreneur Claire Middleton is bringing her designs to her home town of Rotherham after securing help and support from Launchpad, a free Sheffield City Region business support programme.

Originally from Brinsworth, Claire has been providing alternative style clothing to the fashion savvy for over a decade as part of her brand, Alice Takes A Trip, with her unique alternative fashion designs being found on the rails of the UK’s leading clothing retailers including Topshop, New Look and ASOS.

Following the birth of her second child, Claire embarked upon a second venture, pioneering Skeletots, an alternative baby wear range. As demand for the range began to grow, business savvy Claire decided to seize the opportunity and bring her designs back to her home town where her career in fashion began, launching a boutique to showcase her own clothing range as well as using her knowledge of the industry to support other local designers.

Claire contacted RiDO, the investment arm of Rotherham Council to enquire about business rates in the town and the support available to new businesses and she was introduced to Launchpad; a free-to-access programme which helps entrepreneurs to transform business ideas into a commercial reality. Over the past few months, Claire has been working with a business advisor to formulate a business plan, pitch for funding and market her business further both online and in store.

Working with Launchpad, Claire opened her boutique Boneyard & Co just three months ago at 10 Rawmarsh Hill, Parkgate and inspired by Rotherham’s creative sector, decided to transform areas of the store into an art gallery and workshop, combining the world of retail whilst delivering workshops on technical fashion design skills such as pattern cutting and sewing.

Claire said: “I’ve always had an interest in alternative fashion and spent my spare time drawing up designs in my bedroom. After completing my degree, I landed a job in an alterations shop and continued to design in my spare time – but when I turned 30 I decided it was now or never.

The success my sister and I had with Alice Takes A Trip was beyond our wildest imaginations and seeing our designs in the Oxford Circus Topshop store was a truly amazing experience. I decided to draw on the success we achieved with our designs to open my own store in Rotherham where I could sell our clothing whilst also providing a platform and hub to support other local designers.

Running a retail business is very different to producing new clothing designs and I realised that to succeed I needed help. The council referred me to Launchpad and they have supported me from the very early stages of my business: from developing the plans to launching and opening my store. Like many new business owners, it’s been a roller-coaster ride but the help and support I’ve received has been invaluable and it’s reassuring to know that I can continue to call upon the service for advice and assistance as the boutique begins to grow and evolve.”

Julia Millea, Business Advisor from the SCR Launchpad, said: “Launchpad was developed to provide advice and support for entrepreneurs and start-up business owners when they need it the most and the free-to-access programme is available throughout the Sheffield City Region.

When I started working with Claire she had already achieved significant success with her first clothing brand and knew exactly the kind of unique service and experience she wanted to offer to her customers. The challenge she faced was transforming the original concept into a reality, developing the Boneyard & Co brand as well as understanding how to attract new customers in a retail environment.”

Launchpad is a unique scheme which forms part of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Princes Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the Sheffield City Region who are thinking of starting their own business, or have started trading within the last two years. For more information on the Growth Hub, click here.