Fashion: Robyn Parker

‘The Fashion Foundation course at Newham College seemed like the best course in London for me to be able to develop a wide range of skills.’

Whilst working for a mental health support service in Lambeth, Robyn reached a point in her life where she needed to decide whether she wanted to study towards a Masters in Social Work or Policy or completely re-train in something more creative. Robyn decided to combine her two interests – supporting others and doing something creative – and to start a social enterprise working with local unemployed women.

‘So I searched for a course that would allow me to develop my own (very limited!) creative skills to a point where I would be able to use them to provide employment opportunities for others.’

With no formal training in any art disciplines, it was important for Robyn to find a course which exposed her to different creative areas and the Fashion Foundation Diploma at Newham College seemed like the perfect fit.

‘I developed a lot of practical skills in various areas – pattern cutting, sewing skills, how to use a sketch book to explore and present ideas etc.’

‘The course has taught me that it is possible to completely change direction and enter something creative quite late on (I was 25 when I started the course). It can be tough and you really have to dig deep to find a scrap of self-confidence at times but with perseverance and commitment wonderful things can happen!’

Using the skills learnt on the course and the support from the tutors, Robyn was then able to start up he own business straight away.

‘I developed my final project, textile designs made into cushions, that I’m now selling as a commercial product online and in several shops.’

The course had introduced Robyn to the Fashion and Textile Museum and she was able to use this link to approach the Museum to sell her cushions, which they will be doing from January 2014.

I found the support of the tutors to be really amazing in helping me to stay focussed and see what I could gain from the course. They were always extremely understanding of personal circumstances and did what they could to introduce you to things that would help you develop.’

Robyn now plans on building her brand – Archie Mac, and would like to reach a stage where she can employ local women to support her in making the products. Robyn is currently running design workshops at local community centres.

‘The whole process of undertaking the course has really shown me that sometimes you have to just dig up some self-belief and really hold onto it no matter what! 18 months after starting the course I walked out of the Fashion and Textile Museum following a meeting with the shop buyer with an enormous smile on my face. It was wonderful to have felt that I’d gone full circle, the Fashion Foundation course having been the right choice after all and giving me the skills to be able to make a career out of my creativity.’

For more details on our Fashion Foundation and other fashion courses, please visit the Newham College website or call 020 8257 4000.

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