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Teachers take a lesson in fashion
11:40am Monday 9th September 2013 in Business news
TWO York teachers have joined forces to open their own bridal studio and showroom.
Budding fashion designer Rebecca Downes, from Haxby, has teamed up with Marie Neal-Smith, from Driffield, to launch Smith & Downes, which creates and produces bespoke pieces, focusing on wedding dresses.
The pair, who met while teaching fashion at York College, have opened a new design studio and customer showroom in Buttercrambe, near Stamford Bridge, thanks to support from start-up programme Ready for Business.
They are now finalists in The North of England Wedding Awards 2013 in the Outstanding Customer Service Bridal Wear category.
In the long term, their goal is for a Smith & Downes collection to be stocked in retailers nationwide.
The programme is funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills via the Regional Growth Fund initiative and in association with Barclays, to deliver intensive start-up training and support.
They were also assisted by Mike Everitt, at Business Support York and North Yorkshire.
Mr Everitt said: “Setting up your own business demands commitment and dedication from the outset as well as passion and enthusiasm from the individuals themselves, and Smith & Downes is a prime example of exactly the type of new venture that Ready for Business is designed to support.”
Rebecca and Marie plan to work with local suppliers and have teamed up with a jewellery maker who will be producing buttons for the new collection and a milliner.
Rebecca said: “Fashion and design have always been a love of mine and I started offering seamstress services from my parents’ garage alongside my work as a teacher at York College.
‘‘From working with Marie, I knew she shared my dream of having a fashion business and with her background in wholesale and manufacturing for large high street retailers we knew we would have the ideal combination of skills to make it a reality.”
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