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Young entrepreneur designed for fashion label success

A 21-year-old fashion graduate from Bridgend, who displayed her collection at London Fashion Week, has launched a clothing label aiming to make runway fashion accessible.

Laura-Shannon Harding has spent the last few months showing her clothing collection at fashion shows across the country and is now launching her own fashion label, Laura-Shannon. She started the business with support from Big Ideas Wales, the youth entrepreneurship service in Wales.

Laura’s collection is inspired by festival fashion using playful and colourful prints, embellishments and textures.

Laura said: “Festivals are a place where people can be free with what they wear, and I wanted to create a collection showing how far the boundaries can be pushed within festival culture; showing how free and accepting the atmosphere is.

After a busy few months, Laura has launched an online store commercialising her runway collection where she will sell clothing, acrylic jewellery and accessories. The items stocked range from £4 – £2,000 and are made to order.

Laura started her business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales and funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea, including students and graduates.

Laura said: “I created the collection as part of my final Leeds Arts University project and was selected to show the collection at Grad Fashion week. From this, the collection gained lots of attention, and I was invited to attend other fashion shows, including London at Fashion’s Finest Closing Soiree and Doncaster.”

Laura continued: “Attending fashion shows was amazing and made me more determined to keep creating collections for each season that are bold and avant-garde. Now, I’m commercialising the collections for my shop, Laura-Shannon, for people to buy and wear.

“In University you have all the facilities and tools you need. Now I’ve graduated, I have a domestic sewing machine, but to create the high-quality clothing I want to make, I need to get all the industrial machinery and that has been a challenge as they are so expensive.”

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Talking about Big Ideas Wales, Laura said: “I didn’t think I would have much support starting my business, so when my mum mentioned the service to me I was completely amazed. After contacting them, I was put in touch with a business advisor, Miranda Thomas, who helped me develop a business plan, apply for funding for machinery and gave me a lot of help and advice.

“I think you need support when you are starting your own business, especially at a young age. There’s so much I am yet to learn, making it invaluable support to have.”

Miranda Thomas, Big Ideas Wales business advisor, said: “Laura is a very talented and driven person who has already gained accolades in the fashion world. I cannot wait to see where the business goes as it is clear she has a bright future ahead.”

In the future, Laura hopes to run pop-up Laura-Shannon shops in festivals around the world, allowing her to travel while developing the business.

She finished by saying: “I have been fortunate through attending different fashion shows to meet designers and have discussed the possibility of collaborations. Being able to work creatively with others in the fashion world would be such a dream, so I hope this will become a reality one day.”

Economy Minister, Ken Skates said: “It’s fantastic to see Laura turn her idea into a business with the support of Big Ideas Wales. In a short time, Laura has already accomplished so much, and with such determination and ongoing help from her advisor, it’s clear she has a very exciting future ahead.

“The Welsh Government is absolutely committed to supporting entrepreneurs throughout Wales and this is another great example of the important steps we are taking to help them thrive.”

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