From pom-pom accessories to tie-dyed apparel, playful brands set up by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students are thriving during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bethany modelling a pair of 'Flossy' pom-pom earrings
Bethany Hunt launched her pom-pom earring business Groovy Daze at the end of February, and despite the nationwide lockdown measures enforced in March, her sales have doubled month on month. Due to popular demand, she recently expanded her range to include pom-pom hair ties.
The final-year Fashion Buying with Marketing student makes each accessory by hand using vegan-friendly yarn, and they come in reusable linen pouches and recycled packaging.
“I started making pom-pom earrings for myself, but the number of people who would stop me in the street about them encouraged me to start selling them,” said the 24-year-old from Peterborough.
To date, Bethany has sold more than 200 pairs of earrings, making each pom-pom by hand and experimenting with colours and textures to keep her range varied.
She said: “I was absolutely terrified when lockdown happened as I had invested money into my materials in spring/summer colours and had festival-inspired photoshoots planned.
“Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people rallied together to support small businesses during this time, as well as Instagram launching a new way to tag brands.”
Making use of different props and locations around her flat has enabled Bethany to create visually appealing product shots that stand out in the marketplace.
“My degree has taught me so much about different marketing techniques. One thing I’ve worked really hard on is engaging with my Instagram followers because I know how much more invested you are when you feel that you’re a part of a brand you love,” she said.
Bethany also values the experience she gained during her year-long work placement as a buyer’s admin assistant at Yours Clothing.
She said: “I loved it. I got to work really closely on product development and it helped me to understand just how technical fashion can be, in terms of analysing trends, sales and much more.”
Second-year Fashion Buying with Marketing student Chloe Allan launched Tyed Apparel during lockdown with her boyfriend Ben Clark - a first year Business and Marketing student - as a way to stay creative.
Each garment is dyed by hand during a two-day process, meaning every product design across their unisex range of T-shirts, hoodies, crop tops, face masks and socks is completely unique.
Ben and Chloe in matching Tyed T-shirts
“We were lucky to be in lockdown together, but we wanted to stay productive so we threw ourselves into something that we felt would benefit both our degree and future careers,” said 20-year-old Chloe from Canterbury.
As well as using eco-friendly packaging, the pair has also been donating 10 percent of the profits to the NHS.
20-year old Ben from Suffolk said: “It’s felt good to support NHS workers. They’re working so hard to keep us safe from coronavirus, so doing our bit from home is our way of giving back.”
The couple’s combined marketing skills gained through their respective degrees helped to catapult their brand among social media influencers, including a prominent menswear buyer at ASOS.
Chloe said: “We complement each other really well. My degree has given me specific knowledge in retail and fashion. Useful topics have included trend prediction and social media marketing, plus I’ve learned how to create cool graphics and edit photos though CAD.
“Ben has been brilliant on the web design and analytics front, as well as business strategies in general. Without these skills we wouldn’t have known where to even start.”
Ben added: “Setting up our brand has been a steep learning experience, but it’s given us the confidence in what we can achieve after we graduate.
“It’s shown us that if you really want to do something then nothing can stop you – that’s an inspiring position for us to be in at this stage of our lives.”
Posted on Tuesday 4th August 2020