Michele Payne credits her success following graduation to skills passed on by her mother and her degree course at the University of Brighton.
She said: “We grew up without a lot of money and my mum didn't really approve of me going to university – she wanted me to get a job because she'd always had to provide and knew the practical importance of a good income.
“She was a single mum working in a mushroom factory at the time though when younger she'd worked as a presser in a clothing factory and had taught me a lot about making my own clothes. I always loved fashion and set my heart on making it my profession.
“I had worked for a year in a t-shirt printing factory as an embroidery digitiser before going to the University of Brighton. If I hadn't gone on to study I would have probably stayed with them.
“But I was determined to study and was only able to because I was awarded a full grant to live on. Despite struggling financially throughout the course I was determined to succeed. I produced my final collection for the fashion show on muslin because it only cost £1 or £2 per metre, but rather than being limiting these things helped fuel my creative approach.
“It was great that the course tutors never made me feel that the amount of money I invested in materials was detrimental to my work, so I didn't feel impeded as such, it was just another thing to problem solve at the time.”
Michele, who works from her home studio in Worthing, has been a textile designer since she graduated with a Printed Textiles degree in 1994. At that time she specialised in womenswear prints, working as a designer and colourist for Vasino Spa and then for Miroglio Spa in Italy for four years after graduating.
She then returned to the UK and worked as a journalist/textiles editor for a trade magazine working on trend shoots and covering trade fairs. In 2003 she began designing for childrenswear, initially working in-house at Sugarcube studio, then going on to design for George at Asda and Mamas and Papas, before going freelance in 2009 designing for clients including Mothercare and Tesco, as well as designing for Lilly + Sid since 2011. Other clients have included Mudpie, Pigeon Organics and Hibou Home.
Michele said of her university course: “It was incredible for me, as I was encouraged and challenged by the fantastic tutors and the other talented students there too. Especially important for me was the year of work experience, when I got to travel abroad for the first time and work as a designer in Lyons, Budapest and London.
“I learned so much from each experience and it was exactly what was needed to build my confidence in my work. Once I graduated, I was offered work in a studio in London but didn't feel that was where I wanted to be and then, luckily, the opportunity arose via a friend on the course to go with her to work at Vasino Spa in Chieri, near Turin, Italy.”
Recommending her university course, she offered advice to would-be designers: “Learn as much from everyone around you and enjoy all the opportunities you have to the full. If you really want something, don't be afraid to try things and approach the people who could help you. Most importantly, create your own hand-writing/style and always draw as much as possible.”
To see Michele’s work go to: http://www.michelepayne.com/
Design photographs, courtesy of Michele Payne