Young mums fashion their way into business


A Scottish charity, which empowers young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve bigger, better, brighter futures, has teamed up with a successful fashion designer to steer more young parents into business.  

A group of young Mums from Dundee-based Front Lounge, which has supported almost 40,000 young people since its launch in 2001, are literally fashioning their own futures as a pioneering programme gets underway.

Hannah Watson (19), mother to two-year old Grace, is one of 10 mums taking place in the collaboration between the Front Lounge ‘Kindred Clothing’ project and local fashion design house Isolated Heroes.

As one of Front Lounge’s projects, all of which are led by young people themselves, Kindred Clothing is arming young parents with the skills to create their own clothes while their children play, building their confidence and networks in the process.   The project, which received £34,488 of National Lottery funding last year, was born out of the ongoing and highly successful ‘Bringing up Baby’ project, also funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Robertson Trust and Young Start (National Lottery Community Fund).   Within the last year, the project team have made huge strides and, later this year, should become an accredited learning centre, meaning that participants will leave with a professional qualification.               

Now, Samantha Paton, owner of Isolated Heroes is offering a summer programme for 10 of the young Mums, taking them on a ‘live industry’ journey from the design and manufacture of clothing through to the business skills required to take their product to market.

Hannah Watson believes that the programme is helping reverse the stereotype that young parents can be a burden on society – “Young parents often get a bad press but, by taking part in this programme, we want to prove to ourselves and to others that we can learn skills like anyone else, gain a qualification and really make something of our lives for the benefit of ourselves as individuals, and our children.

“Not only are we gaining useful practical skills at Kindred Clothing, we also gain amazing friendships. There is no young parent group out there which does what Kindred Clothing does. Some of our young parents have mental health issues like anxiety but, when they come to Kindred Clothing, we take their minds off that for a while.  Better still, not only do we have fun but our children are playing while we are making, proving that that, even though we have children, we are still fully capable of anything we put our minds to!”

Over the course of eight sessions, starting on Tuesday 16 July, participants will explore trend forecasting and design and make an item of clothing in line with standard industry practice including the use of mood and presentation boards.

They will also master the business skills involved, learning how to create a ‘Bill of Materials’ to show their understanding of cost price and mark-up.  The programme will culminate in the participants presenting their research, finished garments and final retail costs to the Isolated Heroes design panel, ready for the finale, a fashion industry photoshoot.

The group will all leave with their research moodboards, design board, pattern, garment, Bill of Materials and complete costings for pricing their item for industry, as well as high quality styled photographs. 

Samantha, who ran a sewing masterclass for the group last year said, “We were so impressed by the talent shown by the group last year, and how quickly they picked up the processes involved in making clothes.  Now we are moving things up a gear by covering the business aspects of fashion design too, taking the ladies on a live industry journey.

“If the mums ever apply for a related course at college, they will have an amazing package to showcase, well beyond what would be expected of them. Of course, as well as the skills they gain, they will have a real sense of pride and achievement and hopefully be motivated and inspired to take these skills to the next level, and really reach their full potential. We at Isolated Heroes feel genuinely privileged and humbled to be working with this group of young mums – it’s fantastic to watch their skills develop, their confidence grow and just watch them have some fun as part of their increasingly busy lives as young parents.”

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