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Young entrepreneur unmasks fashion business success

Ruby Harry set up her business Ruby Harry Design a month after graduating

A budding fashion designer from Rogiet in Monmouthshire has turned lockdown stress into business success, setting up a clothing and accessories brand during the pandemic and selling hundreds of face masks already.

21-year-old Ruby Harry graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University with a First in Fashion Design, and started her own business, Ruby Harry Design, just one month after graduating. Selling face masks, tote bags, hair accessories and make up bags, Ruby set up her own venture to be able to put her degree to good use.

Ruby started her business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales and part 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.

Ruby said: “I graduated in June and because of the pandemic there weren’t many job opportunities, so I decided to start my own business. I realised there was a demand for face masks, and I wanted to create luxury fashion-forward designs that also offered people the protection needed.”

Ruby’s facemasks cost start from £6 and are handmade to order. They are three layers thick for protection and come in a large selection of fabrics and prints. She also offers ‘glam masks’ which feature sequins and ribbons for extra luxury. Selling over 400 already, Ruby’s masks are stocked at beauty salon Studio Meraki in Portskewett and she also takes orders through her Instagram page @rubyharrydesign, hoping to sell via her website in the near future.

Ruby continued: “In just two months, I have been able to turn an idea into a business and I’m so happy with how it is going. I’ve learnt a lot and really enjoy every aspect of running the business from sewing the masks, running the social media channels and website, shipping the items and communicating with customers. It’s been a big learning curve, but it has been so rewarding.”

Talking about Big Ideas Wales, Ruby said: “I heard about the service through the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cardiff Metropolitan University who put me in touch with a business advisor, Sian Davies.

“Sian was always on hand to answer any questions I had, from creating a business plan to helping me understand how to scale up the business. The whole experience has been really helpful, and it’s nice to know I have their advice is just a call away.”

Sian Davies, Big Ideas Wales business advisor, said: “It’s fantastic to see how Ruby has managed to launch a successful business in just a few months. She spotted a gap in the market and is having great success with her business despite the pandemic. I can’t wait to see where the next few months take her.”

In July, Ruby attended a one week-long virtual Bootcamp event organised by Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship for current students and recent graduates to launch or scale up their businesses. From the Bootcamp, Ruby was successful in securing funding through the Santander Universities scheme.

Talking about future ambitions for her design brand, Ruby said: “I hope to be able to expand the products I offer and design a sustainably sourced clothing collection, which has always been a big dream of mine.”