Vibrant designs are set to launch fashion graduate Siobhan Thomas on a bright future.
But her vivid clothes are matched by her business ambitions, fostered during her course at the University of Huddersfield.
Now – with a distinctive collection of womenswear ready for launch – she will make full use of the University’s facilities, which enable young entrepreneurs to taken their new enterprises to the next level.
Siobhan, 26, has named her business Phenomode Fashion and it will sell her highly adaptable range of clothes in boutiques and via her online store. For 12 months she will take up the opportunity to base herself in The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre, at the University’s 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in Firth Street, Huddersfield.
It will provide her with hot desking and free use of the electronic facilities she needs to kick start an online business, so that clothes under the Phenomode label – designed and made-up by Siobhan in person – find their way into hundreds of women’s wardrobes.
She is from Leeds and studied at its College of Art and Design before moving to the University of Huddersfield for a BA course that encompassed fashion design, marketing and promotion.
She developed a passion for printed fabrics, describing hers as “vibrant and quite eclectic”.
“I have noticed too that because my prints are so different, they don’t go out of fashion. I came up with designs three or four years ago while I was at University that people still love today,” says Siobhan, who designs clothing for women sized between 12 and 20.
She creates dresses, skirts, tops and jackets which, while not being formal, are fashionable, and her key items are suitable for the office, she reckons. There is a mix-and-match dimension, meaning that a wardrobe of Phenomode clothes is highly adaptable and can easily be used to create new combinations.
“I think I am aiming my clothes at women who don’t have an awful lot of time – such as business people and full-time mums. I have designed them so that if you purchase a selection of pieces from my collection you can inter-change your look every day.”
Siobhan has her designs digitally printed on to fabrics and then makes up the clothes herself, using technical skills honed during her degree course. But business skills are equally important and during her University of Huddersfield course she took advantage of its Enterprise Placement Year, which enabled her test her ideas, develop contacts, experience store management and stage a successful fashion show, while drawing on help and advice from the University’s business mentors.
“It was a good experience. I learned a lot, had plenty of support from the University and it gave me a passion to be self-employed.”
Siobhan has had good experience working within a well-established business. After graduation she did a placement with Huddersfield-based Mamas and Papas and contributed a design for a maternity smock that the company has placed on the market.