Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Inspiring Enterprising Graduates

Graduate profiles

Amy Humphreys Video Interview
Year of Study

I launched my company – Amy Allwright Homeware – in 2011.

I design and make beautiful products for your home.

What prompted you to set up on your own?

I have always loved sewing, but didn’t have much time to indulge my passion while I was studying. So, it was a real pleasure to pick it up again when I graduated.

The first thing I made was really a treat for me – an Edwardian ‘Mary Poppins’ pinny. It seems I’m not the only one who loves old fashioned homey things because very soon lots of people were asking for one of their own.

Demand grew and I began to dream of putting my degree into practice – creating my own fabric collection and designing and making a range of products.

How did you get started?

I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur and was daunted by the prospect of setting up in business.

Then, I learnt about The Studio – the University’s unique opportunity for creative graduates. I applied for a place and was accepted.

It has provided me with two years of mentoring support as well as access to the University’s specialist facilities and expertise. I have office space, use of the equipment in the textiles studio to design and print my fabrics, and expert business support.

Being a member of the Studio has really helped. I spent the first three months costing and budgeting; working with designers to organise my website, company name and branding; and putting together a business plan.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: I found it tough going, but by Christmas 2011 I realised I was well on the way to being a designer-maker. I had established a business that I love and thoroughly enjoy.

Where is your company at now?

I have three collections and several products within each including pinnies, kitchen textiles, and mobile and tablet covers. I also undertake bespoke projects which are always a lot of fun. In all my work, I aim to combine old-fashioned charm with modern practicality.

I currently do the majority of my business online, but do trade via a couple of independent boutiques too.

I’d really like to get my range into outlets nationwide, in shops like the National Trust. So, I’m about to embark on my first trade show to network with buyers.

In January 2013, I was thrilled to be one of just 12 companies selected to appear at Spotted – a showcase of new UK designers – part of the Top Drawer trade show at Earl’s Court in London.

Currently, all of my fabrics are hand-printed and products, handmade. I love the processes involved – designing, printing and making – it means that my products sit in the high end of the market. Being handmade and screen-printed means that every product has its own unique qualities and no two products are exactly the same. I am exploring the possibility of outsourcing some of the work – for example, the printing – so that I can launch a more competitively priced range, but I will only do this if I can maintain the same beautiful aesthetic of screen-printing which I just love.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?

As with everything, you certainly need a good sense of humour!

It’s also important to be able to admit to yourself when you don’t know something – and talk to people who do. You have to be open and willing to learn: accept that you can’t know everything – especially at the beginning.

How would you describe your Loughborough experience?

During my course – Printed Textiles – I was based in the School of the Arts.

It’s a really sociable environment, and there was a great atmosphere in the studio with people sharing equipment and ideas.

My degree has definitely helped me with my business, giving me the skills and confidence to set out on my own as a designer maker.

The technical support provided by the School – both to students and Studio members – is amazing. Since setting up my business, I've been able to use the School’s screen printing facilities, creating over 50 meters of fabric since graduating.

Having this kind of access to expert support and specialist equipment was invaluable throughout my studies – not to mention during my first two years of business.

Alongside my studies, I was actively involved with my church, Open Heaven – I am still a member now. They are a welcoming group who meet every Sunday in the Students’ Union and organise plenty of events across campus and in the town.

If you are thinking of coming to Loughborough to study – do it!