Designer/Owner, Bliss Studio Textiles
BA Constructed Textiles, 2002
What made you choose Middlesex University?
I had always had the ambition of studying at Middlesex because my mum used to be a cook at the Cat Hill campus and knew a lot of the students and lecturers so I got to know about the University and what the students did. Then while I was at college I knew students who were studying art and design courses at Middlesex so I knew that I would like it there.
What attracted you to your course and made you apply?
Before I went to Middlesex I did a BTEC in Art and Design at Barnet College where I focussed on theatre/fashion design and textiles and it was here that I started to get interested in manipulating fabrics, so that's how I got into textiles. After that finished I didn't quite know what to do so I applied for an HND and got into Basingstoke College to do a textiles and fashion course. The HND was more fashion based but I really enjoyed the textiles side so I knew that was what I wanted to pursue.
I knew that Middlesex offered a technical course that would let me continue that so I was thinking about applying for it, but the final push came one day when I was having a meeting with my college tutor about my work. She said: 'Oh, this is just so arty farty, it is so Middlesex'. That confirmed that Middlesex was definitely the place for me so I decided I was going to apply.
What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?
I learned so much on the course, particularly technical knowledge. From the technicians to the lecturers and ex-students who visited for talks, I picked up a lot of knowledge and learned a lot. Middlesex really pushed me forward and pushed me to set up my own business.
What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?
It was full on and there was obviously a lot of work, but it was also quite relaxed. It was just something that I loved doing and everyone at the university was really helpful.
What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?
Think strongly about what you want to do. When you're working in art and design you are always building up your own style so think about how your course can help you do that and apply for the right one. Remember to make contacts along the way too as they might be the people who can help you in the future.
I would also advise students to try and take a year out and do a year in industry to get relevant work experience. That experience is essential when you're applying for jobs after you graduate and if you don't have any it can be difficult.
How did your course and time at Middlesex help you get to where you are professionally today?
I weave my own fabrics and do textile art too, so what I learned at Middlesex is what I'm still doing today. Middlesex gave me the skills and ability to set up my own business and I now have a product which is very unique and can't be copied really.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I had always wanted to be self-employed and had a passion for it but I didn't do it straight away. When I graduated from Middlesex I knew I wasn't quite ready and needed to learn more about the business side so I went to work in retail and worked my way up to Store Manager. I worked for companies like House of Fraser and Virgin to get experience that way, and I learned how to run a business, how to manage staff and so on. At House of Fraser I worked on visual merchandising so I wasn't completely wasting my degree and was still using my artistic side.
How difficult was it to set up your own business?
It wasn't really difficult to set up, I just planned what I wanted to do and found my own studio. I gained so much technical knowledge on the course that I really knew what I needed to do and that I could do it, I just had to keep doing it.
I have a few shows coming up; craft shows, a show for the RHS, another show at Brick Lane and others too so hopefully from that I'm going to get more clients to supply to.
What advice would you offer to current students who would like to set up their own business?
It is really hard work so you have to believe in yourself. You are going to get knockbacks that will set you back but you just have to be strong and believe in yourself and you will get there in the end. You are spending a lot of money and a lot will go out before anything comes in, but you have to stick with it and build it up.
What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?
Have a clearer idea about what you want to do and where you want to apply to. I made a mistake with the first course I chose and had to go back to college to change direction.
To find out more about Linda's company, visit the Bliss Studio Textiles website.