Caroline Rush mentors textile artist in Progress 1000 pairing

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As CEO of the British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush is continuously meeting designers, venues and investors to promote British fashion — an industry worth £26 million to the UK economy. But she took time out from last month’s London Fashion Week Men’s to meet her mentee, textile artist Onome Otite.

“I’m more than happy to carve out a bit of time to share my experience with young designers if I can,” she says. “I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact it can have.” Onome started making her artworks, which manipulate textiles into 3D collages, after creating a mood board while working as a stylist in 2014. With the help of the Cockpit Arts Prince’s Trust Programme — an award-winning social enterprise and business incubator for craftspeople — she started her own business and now exhibits and sells her pieces. But to take her work to the next level she’d love to collaborate with designers, which is where Caroline comes in.

A design for life: Onome Otite has written a business plan with her mentor’s help

“Caroline has been amazing at getting down to the nitty gritty and asking me probing questions,” says Onome. “We came up with loads of different ideas that have varied in size and scope, from making cards for designers to give as gifts during their fashion shows, to designing a runway for models.”

For her part, Caroline says that no question is off the table. “Onome can ask me about anything, whether it’s work-life balance or just any contacts which might be of interest,” she says. “When I started out I wish I’d had more understanding of business.”

Onome has already written a six-month business plan and added more skills to her website. “Things such as consultancy I was already doing, but I didn’t really think to tell people about it,” she says.

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council

“Caroline is so professional and working to such a high standard, and she’s made me want to push myself and up my game.”

Caroline confirms just how tenacious you need to be to make it in the fashion industry. “This is a world that expects a lot in terms of enthusiasm and commitment,” she explains. “But sometimes it’s just about having one person tell you to get out there and get on with it, and I hope I can be that person for Onome.”

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