Who among us hasn’t gone to the supermarket and returned home with more than we set out to buy?
Well, when Jenny Holloway, CEO of Fashion Enter, went shopping in Newtown in 2019 she got more than an extra packet of biscuits.
“In June 2019, I went to the ex-Laura Ashley plant in Newtown, Wales, to review buying machinery as the iconic company had gone into receivership – I was totally unprepared for what happened next!”
London-based Fashion Enter, a member of the Skills and Education Group, is a social enterprise focusing on ethical and open practices, employing skilled machinists who produce more than 15,000 garments each week. Alongside the factory operation, the Fashion Technology Academy provides the know-how to teach students everything from pattern cutting to bespoke tailoring as part of Skills and Education Group Awards qualifications.
Before I knew it, I had stated that I would open a factory in Wales to save their jobs!
When the opportunity to strengthen the business with additional equipment from the consolidation of the Laura Ashley estate presented itself, Jenny hot-footed it to the factory.
“I was greeted by an amazing team of machinists that had spent their entire working careers at Laura Ashley. Their loyalty was immensely powerful.
“These machinists had gone to great effort to greet me and a colleague – Jean had even baked cakes! Well, that was it! I was bowled over and, before I knew it, I had stated that I would open a factory in Wales to save their jobs!”
By September 2019, Fashion Enter had opened a brand-new state-of-the-art factory with support from the Welsh government. Jenny went on to say:
“It was soon apparent that the skilled machinists needed garment manufacturing support, but we also identified a huge young cohort that wanted to learn stitching skills. Fast forward to September 2021 and we’ve opened a Stitching Academy on site with Newtown College, working with the highly supportive Skills and Education Group Awards.”
By adding this second factory to the portfolio, Fashion Enter effectively doubled productivity and employed over 75 experienced Welsh machinists. But Jenny’s plans don’t stop there:
“We are now progressing into Level 2 stitching, and we have plans to recruit three of the learners on to our apprenticeship programme too! From little acorns!”
Skills and Education Group Awards offers a variety of qualifications in Wales, including those delivered by Fashion Enter:
Claire Williams is our Relationship Manager for Wales, South West England and the South of England. She is also the Sector Champion for fashion and textiles. You can connect with Claire on LinkedIn or book an online meeting via her Calendly page.
Fashion Enter is a Silver member of the Skills and Education Group. Our membership provides access to grant funding, free places at professional development events, discounts on awarding services, and several other benefits. You can find out more about membership here.
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