The Studio



Suzy Shelley

Design house Noux creates innovative and beautiful products for pets.

If you really want to launch your own business - there’s no better start than becoming a tenant of the Studio.

Design house Noux creates innovative and beautiful products for pets.

The company's flagship product is Avo – a unique self-maintaining 12-litre fish tank – small enough to sit on a desk and attractive enough to take pride of place as a healthy home to a shoal of tetras or a Siamese fighting fish.  

Suzy originally developed Avo as part of her final year degree project. She has a long-held interest in tropical fish and aquatics and wanted to develop a tank which simplified her hobby, particularly as she discovered – whilst researching the design – that many people who kept fish had given up due to time constraints.  

Graduating with a First Class Honours degree in Industrial Design and Technology, Suzy spent two years in industry working for branded packaging specialists Path Design. Meanwhile, she was amongst the first cohort of tenants in The Studio – the University’s graduate business development programme. She is now back at Loughborough Design School full-time, pursuing a PhD in 3D printing.  

In November 2013, she received a Special Recognition Award at the EUWIIN International 2013 Awards.

Why did you originally apply to join The Studio?

During my degree show, two very important things happened. Lots of people – many from the design industry – encouraged me to get Avo into production, and I met Studio Manager Megan.

I had always wanted to work for myself, but I’d never thought about doing it straight after graduation. It was just too daunting.

The Studio provided a great way to start a business and realise my dream – without having to go it alone – and Avo seemed like the perfect first product.

How has being a tenant helped you to progress your business?

Being a Studio tenant has really helped me to progress the business – and I’ve learned so much and developed so many skills along the way.

The facilities are amazing. The workspace is wonderful, and I have access to the Design School workshops and prototyping facilities as well as the support of the School’s ever helpful staff.

The funding I’ve received has paid for a working prototype – something I’d never have afforded alone.

The training, meetings, guidance and mentoring are probably the most significant ways the Studio has helped me and my business – keeping me motivated and on track. It’s great to have advice from entrepreneurs who have gone through exactly what I’m experiencing.

A key change I’ve noticed in myself is that when I’m working on something new, I’m able to consider not just the design perspective, but the business angle too.

Two years on, where is your business now?

I've been working hard to develop Avo and the design is almost production-ready. There's just so much to think about in terms of manufacturing, costing, volumes and tooling… I never realised so much went into a product, even after doing a product design degree!

What are your planned next steps?

Starting with Avo, my aim is to shake up the pet product world. Avo is just the first in my planned line of pet products. I've registered a limited company called Noux to develop products not just for fish, but dogs, cats and small animals too. My aim is for Noux to become the Jospeh Joseph of the pet world!

But, for now, my next big step is to secure capital investment to get Avo into production.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a Studio residency?

This might sound a bit corny, but you really need to look inside and think about what you want. Do you have the passion and motivation to start your own business? It's not just about having a great idea, you have to push that idea forward and work at it constantly. It's not been easy – even with the support of the Studio.

Starting a business is like running a marathon. It’s slow-going and, at times, painful – and, although there are people around to train and help you, at the end of the day you have to put in the hard work yourself. It's really tough, but the rewards can be great.

If you're up for the challenge, have a great idea and are passionate about starting your own business then I can think of no better place to start than by becoming a tenant in the Studio.