Jacqueline Gold gives backing to Udesign, a website where children design their own clothes
PUBLISHED: 01:50 21 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:24 20 February 2013
Northumberland mum is giving children the chance to design their own clothes, as Paul Mackenzie reports
The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of North East Life
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To try your hand as clothes designer, log on to www.udesignstudio.co.uk and you can follow Donna on Twitter at @udesignstudiouk.
Donna Naseby wanted to give daughter Ellie-Jo a ninth birthday she would remember - and she managed it by turning the party into a winning business idea.
Almost two years after she organised a fashion design party for Ellie-Jo and eight of her close friends, Donna has been given backing from business leader Jacqueline Gold and is now planning to take her idea to the High Street.
'I was looking for something different for her party, away from the usual soft play places and something that would interest them,' said Donna. I let them control their own project and then took the drawings they did and transformed T-shirts into garments they had designed.
All the clothes in shops are designed by adults for children but I think children should be given more of a say in what they want to wear. Allowing them to come up with their own designs means they can express themselves creatively and display their individuality.
'I think what I've got has great potential and now I want to take it to the next level - to add more interactivity to the website and get into town centres. So they can come in, create the design and pop back a couple of hours later to pick up the finished article.'
The Udesign website allows children to customise a shirt using a set of accessories and charming Odd Bod characters which can also be adapted for each garment.
Donna, from Seaton Delaval, launched her online design studio in August last year and was given a massive boost early on when she was one of the monthly winners of Jaqueline Golds WOW scheme on Twitter to promote women in business.
'That was great and I noticed a surge in interest shortly after but then I was named one of her three winners for the year and invited to a meeting with her at The Ivy in London. That was amazing, she is a really inspirational woman. It was unbelievable for me at the stage I'm at with my business to be getting advice from her. Her experience gives you the inspiration to try to conquer the world.'
Donna was joined at the meeting by the women who run Ja Ja Ja, a series of books introducing young children to foreign languages and Wedge Welly, one of the businesses Theo Paphitis invested in when they appeared on TV programme Dragons' Den.
'I think I'm good at coming up with ideas but I lack the skill set to take them as far they could go' Donna added. 'I thought quite naively that it would just work but there are millions of businesses out there in a similar situation. This could be the next big craze for children and Im looking for potential partners to take it forward.'
Donna is no stranger to entrepreneurism V she runs a childrens day nursery and has also appeared on Dragons Den with her revolutionary pushchair which converted from two singles to a double. But she said:
'There's a huge stress on working mums to fit everything in during school hours. I have no idea where the last year has gone but your passion for a project overtakes the time constraints and you just find ways to get it all done.
'It took about a year from the party to the launch of the website and we've come a long way in that time. Who knows where we'll be 12 months from now?'