Scottish fashion entrepreneurs share trade secrets
A life-changing loan for entrepreneurs means two global fashion experts can achieve their dream of sharing trade secrets with amateur sewers to help them achieve catwalk looks at home.
With the backing of Transmit Startups, Nicola Homer and Susan Howells have launched pattern design company Homer + Howells – giving modern makers the tools and skills they need to create their own contemporary capsule wardrobe.
Providing a sustainable alternative to fast fashion, Homer + Howells taps into the growing home sewing trend by offering digital, downloadable patterns for people to create stylish and wearable clothes.
Nicola, a former Topshop Garment Technologist, said: “Our easy-to-follow instructions enable customers to sew designer-quality clothes using their home sewing machine. Our collection of patterns represents a modern woman's wardrobe: wearable, functional styles that have longevity. We love clean lines, contemporary cuts and flattering silhouettes. And of course, our patterns are size inclusive, designed for real body shapes.”
Nicola and Susan met while studying at the highly acclaimed Scottish College of Textiles at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and went on to carve out successful careers working in London for British brands including Christopher Kane and Topshop. Susan worked as a creative pattern cutter and Nicola as a garment technologist.
The idea for Homer + Howells was born when they relocated back to the west of Scotland – Nicola to Glasgow and Susan to Helensburgh – and began exploring ways of collaborating and creating a business that could flex around their young families.
They approached Transmit Startups to finance their plan and secured Start Up Loans worth £6,000 to develop their first collection of designs, including photo shoots, samples, garment sewing and branding.
Transmit Startups is the UK’s leading provider of Government-backed Start Up Loans, having supported 5,849 entrepreneurs with over £60million. The programme provides fixed-interest loans and high impact mentoring to aspiring business owners across the UK who might be struggling to access other forms of finance.
Nicola said: “We didn’t have any money behind us to start the business so considered lots of different sources of finance. At first glance the interest rates attracted us to Transmit but it was the support, mentoring and resources that really swung it for us.
“We can’t say enough about our business advisor Morag Kelly. She was our first cheerleader and the fact that she loved what we did made us so much more confident. She held our hand through the whole process and guided us to put the time, effort and consideration exactly where it was needed.”
Nicola and Susan have launched an initial capsule of patterns focused on understated British styling and perfect tailoring. Patterns will be available as digital files available to download and print. Included with each sewing pattern is an easy-to-follow instruction booklet packed full of key sewing instructions and tips for each style.
Collections will be released periodically, to allow customers to continuously build on their Homer + Howells wardrobe. Customers can follow Homer + Howells on their website and social media for new patterns, ‘how to’ videos, and professional-grade tips and tricks on how to achieve a perfect fit.
Susan added: “Our vision is for a global sewing pattern house, one that gives home sewers the tools and skills to dress themselves in sustainable modern clothing.
“Consumers are increasingly interested in knowing where and how their clothes are made as well as the ethical and environmental impact of manufacture. The obvious alternative to fast fashion is to make your own clothes. We’re supporting people’s growing desire for a more ethical and sustainable wardrobe.”
Transmit Startups is part of the Transmit group of companies which offer funding, consulting, coaching and mentoring services to entrepreneurs throughout their business journey.
Business advisor Morag Kelly, said: “It’s been great working with Susan and Nicola who are so passionate about their business and about raising awareness around sustainable fashion. Transmit Startups is proud to support a huge variety of businesses and it’s especially satisfying when there is the potential to benefit the environment too.”
Richard Bearman, Managing Director at Start Up Loans, said: “Start Up Loans is here to help people like Nicola and Susan gain access to the funding and support they need to start a business. What they have achieved with Homer + Howells is commendable and I’m proud Start Up Loans has played a part in helping them and so many others across the country to realise their ambition of business ownership.”