An award-winning young designer is starting off 2016 with the news that she has won university funding to help her bring her innovative high-end products to market.
Charlie Evans, who runs Grey House England
, has created sustainable cardboard backpacks, sewn together and woven to produce a hard-wearing yet environmentally-friendly product.
Charlie (pictured above)
has been one of 10 De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduates to have been part of The Crucible Project, which offers entrepreneurial graduates an £8,000 package of mentoring and business help, based in DMU’s Innovation Centre.
Now she has become the first Crucible participant to win university investment to help manufacture her bags.
Charlie, who graduated with a First in Graphic Design and Illustration in 2014, has spent the past few months sourcing manufacturers who support her sustainable focus and preparing for a 2016 launch.
She said: “It is a massive opportunity, it does not feel real right now! It has taken up a lot of time to find the right manufacturers, because the process is so specific, and I’ve also been designing in a new lining.
“Getting this investment has allowed me to be patient, and have the time to think through the process, and ensure everything is absolutely right before I launch."
Since Charlie set up her own company, she has been passing on her entrepreneurial know-how to aspiring business students at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in Leicester.
She said: “I never thought I was going to set up my own business, I have always been a bit entrepreneurial - I used to make extra cash selling muffins at school!”
Anyone on the Crucible Project can pitch for an investment from DMU and if successful, the university will invest in their business.
Simon Baines, Innovation Centre manager, said: ”We have seen Charlie go from a graduate with an innovative idea to a successful business woman, thanks to the university’s Crucible Project.
“Charlie has worked so hard at developing her product, and deserves this investment to help her take it to the next stage which means taking it to market in 2016. She is an inspiration to our current Crucible participants and we hope she will go on to inspire many more of our creative graduates who we hope will consider applying for the 2016-2017 programme.”
Posted on Friday 1st January 2016