I did a few weeks at Kew (ladieswear) in Richmond, London. I learnt a lot about the design process, from concept through to manufacture.
More about Martha
What made you choose to study at NTU?
Having started a Business degree at another university, after three weeks I finally followed my heart to do something artistic and signed up for an Art Foundation course at Chesterfield College. There, they opened my eyes up to the opportunities within design at degree level, and I came to an open day at NTU. I remember feeling very welcomed by the staff and students and impressed with the facilities NTU had to offer, so I applied for the Textile Design course and crossed my fingers!
What did you enjoy most about the course?
After experimenting with all of the textile disciplines I remember finding my calling in illustration and print design. I loved spending hours in the print studio, screen-printing to my hearts content.
What did you think about the course staff?
My final year tutors was so, so supportive through the course and she always believed in my capabilities and commercial design style. She has always tried to help if I've asked for advice, which I have even in the last few years and I graduated five years ago! All the technical staff were great too, especially in the print studio which was like my second home.
I am quite dyslexic and had very little confidence in my writing ability. I had the same tutor for Design and Visual Culture in the first and final year, and she helped to support me when I was writing my dissertation. I chose to write about a subject that no one else was doing, and although I found it daunting at times, my tutor supported me and complimented my journalistic style of writing. One of my proudest moments was finding out that I had achieved a 1st in my dissertation.
What did you like about studying and living in Nottingham?
It was only an hour from my home town of Sheffield, so far away enough to have a separate student life, but close enough to go home if I needed to. The city centre was small enough to walk around easily and the nightlife was great!
Why would you recommend your course?
The facilities and tutors were, in my experience, great. The course allows you to experiment across all four textile disciplines in your first year before specialising, which is really beneficial if you are unsure what your specialist area should be – and Nottingham is a great city to be a student in!
Did you complete any placements while you were on your course?
I did a few weeks at Kew (ladieswear) in Richmond, London. I learnt a lot about the design process, from concept through to manufacture. I also learnt that the fashion industry wasn't where I wanted to be working and it secured my love for gifts and homeware.
I also completed a placement at Lisa Stickley London. From this I secured my first proper job in the industry and I worked for Lisa for four years.
Can you tell us about your company martha and hepsie?
martha and hepsie ltd is an exciting, young and quirky gift and homewares company. Our main product portfolio at the moment consists of gift cards, art prints, stationery and hand-printed tea towels, but we are working on new designs and hope to expand our range for next season.
What made you want to go into business with your sister?
After working for other people we both wanted to create something for ourselves and working with a partner is less daunting than if you're on your own; it's great to have someone to bounce ideas off and plan for the next season. Hepsie has a design background and has been a marketing manager, so has bags of experience when it comes to marketing and PR. Her skills matched with my design, production and product development skills make for a pretty good team!
What advice would you give to our students who are thinking of setting up their own businesses?
Don't be afraid of hard work – it's much harder than working for someone else and financially it's difficult. Have determination. Success doesn't happen overnight and we're still working hard to glimpse sight of success. Money is very tight but the gratification of working for yourself, the freedom of owning your own time and the feeling you get when people like and buy your designs is incomparable.
Where do you hope martha and hepsie will be in five years' time?
We hope to be a recognisable, respected and grounded brand on the high street – it would be amazing to have our own shop one day. There are so many dimensions and possibilities to our business we hope to explore, it's not just about selling our products and making money. It's really important to us to be happy and stay true to ourselves. It's imperative to get the right balance between being commercial and not selling out.