Young Innovators Success Stories: Abbey Gregg, Alyda, West Midlands

Posted on: 15/03/2022

Fashion innovator launches inaugural petite collection

West Midlands-based Abbey Gregg secured the Young Innovators Award 2020/21 from Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust at the very beginning of her innovation journey.

The unique vision for her business Alyda is to create a petite womenswear brand that ethically produces clothing for the modern woman under 5’4’’.

“I feel having the support and backing from Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN through the mentorship, regular networking sessions and events have been pivotal in getting my idea off the ground,” says Abbey.

Pathway to launch

At 4’11’’, Abbey has always struggled to find stylish, modern clothes and often found herself dissatisfied with the limited sustainable and high-quality options that would fit.

She says, “After numerous months of research I found that this disappointment was shared with other women under 5’4’’. Despite 50% of the female population in the UK being under 5’4’’, these petite women only have access to 3% of garments available in their size.”

She decided to fill the obvious market gap and since winning the award has taken her brand from an idea, to product development, and then launch.

“I have experienced numerous setbacks along the way – such as trademark disputes, manufacturing issues, and supply chain delays – but the support from the Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN team steered me in the right direction to help me create a successful brand,” Abbey says.

Start-up success

Abbey launched her first collection in September 2021, which was sold online and in a pop-up store through a collaboration with the Lone Design Club, with fantastic results.

This early success was recognised with Alyda being featured in TechRound’s Top 26 Fashion Start-ups in 2021.

Abbey has also been interviewed by the BBC and the brand featured within consumer magazines such as ELLE UK and InStyle US.

She says, “I plan to accelerate the transition to the next stage of the business by first, building upon future collections and then by hiring my first employee.

“The help from the Young Innovators Award has placed Alyda in a strong position to build the brand’s future and secure additional funding.”

Creating confidence

Abbey would now describe herself as an innovator who has stepped out of her comfort zone and is challenging the status quo.

“The programme has developed my confidence. It can be daunting to launch a business, especially in the middle of a pandemic, but the advice from the Innovate UK EDGE Innovation Champions has been an important contributor to my personal growth and getting my idea off the ground.”

This support was coupled with the funding from Innovate UK, which enabled her to fund the practicalities of creating her first collection, such as hiring a pattern cutter and creating samples.

The cash injection was also put towards building a bespoke website that highlighted the brand’s values and story.

Being part of a cohort of young innovators provided an opportunity for Abbey to share her experiences as well as create new partnerships.

To others looking to embark on an innovative journey, she says, “My advice is to start small, get to know your audience, and then build from there. Remember to celebrate the small wins and reflect on how much you have achieved on a regular basis.”

 

Join us and become part of the Young Innovators community. Find out more about the programme here.

Read the other Young Innovators’ success stories here.

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