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Student enterprise competition winner aims to rekindle sincerity of product

A student at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) is seeking to develop his own ethical illustrated garment business thanks to £5,000 worth of free business mentoring from local business leaders. Albert Clegg, who is in his final year of studying BA Illustration, was announced last night as the winner of the Brainchild student enterprise competition.

The competition is open to students and recent graduates of the University and provides entrants with a series of workshops on specific topics relating to business start-ups. A panel of local business leaders then judge their business pitches to decide the winner. This year’s competition saw six entrants make it the final shortlist.

Albert Clegg, Brainchild winner

Albert Clegg, Brainchild winner

Albert says: “The Brainchild workshops have been invaluable – it would have taken me so long to work it out by myself and my business has come so far since the first meeting in December. My business is a screen printing company that prints my own limited edition designs on garments sourced under the fair trade banner. It was a side project that overtook my main practice as it developed and I plan to get other artists on board. I have several friends who are hugely talented – it would be a dream come true to be able to pay my friends to do what they love.

Brainchild winning t-shirts by Albert Clegg

Brainchild winning t-shirts by Albert Clegg

“My ultimate aim for the business would be to go and source my own clothing in India to create a real connection between the grower, transporter, manufacturer and customer. I want to have a personal relationship with these people and create a closed system of production that would allow for a real sincerity of product, which is something that I think is a bit lost. I’d like to rekindle the reasons for having objects, owning culture rather than having disposable objects that people just throw away after a few months.”

Giant floor cushions by Vanessa Norris, second placed in Brainchild

Giant floor cushions by Vanessa Norris, second placed in Brainchild

Second place was awarded to MA Textile Design student Vanessa Norris, who presented her own giant floor cushions, while BA Textiles student Amber Stefani placed third with her table lighting inspired by stained glass windows and beehives. Simon De-Lacy Adams, Partner at chartered accountants Lovewell Blake, chaired the judging panel for his second year. He comments: “This year the judging was difficult because of the high quality of work from the NUA students and graduates. Albert won because we liked his enthusiasm, his designs, his ethical turn on what he was trying to produce and his commitment to his product. We also liked that the business is built around his own designs – they are unique and they are limited. We feel as a panel that we can offer him a great deal of support in moving his product forward to make it very commercially viable.

The competition is run by ideasfactory@NUA, the University’s commercial creative consultancy which provides commercial outlets for students’ innovative thinking and talent. The prize is one-to-one mentoring from the competition’s sponsors and a year’s free membership to Norfolk Network.

Table lighting by Amber Stefani, third placed in Brainchild

Table lighting by Amber Stefani, third placed in Brainchild

The other business mentors are: Will Farrow, Creative Partner of Farrows design agency; Tom Parsley, Director at web design agency Selesti; James Tarling, Principal with solicitors Steeles Law; Lucy Marks, Managing Director of Norfolk Network;. Tom Wood Partner at Norwich based experience design company Foolproof; Sarah Steed, Business Director of ideasfactory@NUA; and Jonathan Pace, a member of the 2013 Brainchild winning team now in his final year of study in BA Games Art and Design. Past winning concepts have included a video game which aims to advance the medium as art, a fabric screen printed with iconic buildings of Norwich, cushion and upholstery designs derived from the 200-year-old patterns of the Strangers of Norwich; and a range of bespoke wall art incorporating light.

Sarah Steed says: “The Brainchild competition provides a great opportunity for students to get input from experienced business leaders on how to develop their business ideas including one to one support on the practical aspects of business planning and development. This year’s entries were of a great quality and it was clear from the applications that students and graduates had attended the workshops led by the business mentors, demonstrating how important these sessions are in helping them to develop their business ideas.”

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