The Scottish Mail on Sunday

The col­lege drop-out with denim in her genes

- College · Higher Education · United Kingdom · Taiwan · Beijing · University of Edinburgh · Edinburgh · Central Saint Martins · London · House of Fraser Oxford Street · Topshop · Bangladesh · Japan · Italy · Australia · · Topman · Bibby Financial Services

FASH­ION boss Anika Is­lam is glad of the day she dropped out of col­lege.

If she had con­tin­ued with her wom­enswear de­gree she would have grad­u­ated only this year. In­stead, she heads a brand stocked in more than 200 UK stores and ex­pand­ing into Tai­wan and China.

The founder of ‘Scan­di­in­spired’ denim brand Waven re­alised she and her brother al­ready knew what they wanted to do and she did not need to study any more.

Is­lam, whose fam­ily has been in denim man­u­fac­tur­ing for 30 years, al­ready had an eco­nom­ics de­gree and mas­ters from Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity.

She said: ‘I knew I could get into bank­ing, pri­vate eq­uity or fi­nance, but I don’t be­lieve in work­ing to make money. I wanted to make an im­pact.’

At 22, she ap­plied for a wom­enswear de­gree at Cen­tral Saint Martins in Lon­don. She said: ‘I got in and then dropped out sort of af­ter day one. I guess I had a clearer vi­sion of what I wanted to do than the stu­dents at that age. It was a re­ally good de­ci­sion!’

Two-and-a-half years on, Waven is a rapidly ex­pand­ing suc­cess story.

She said: ‘Our top cus­tomers are Asos, Zolando, House of Fraser, Top­shop and Top­man.

‘I’m in Bangladesh at the mo­ment de­vel­op­ing for 2018. We’re send­ing out sam­ples to Ja­pan, Italy and Aus­tralia. We’re open­ing up in China, in Tai­wan for next sea­son as well. So we’re healthily grow­ing.’

The busi­ness has used in­voice fi­nance from Bibby Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices to man­age cash flow. Is­lam said: ‘We just got to a point where we thought, “how are we go­ing to do it? How is it pos­si­ble to keep sup­pli­ers happy and make sure we have enough stock ready for our cus­tomers who are re­peat or­ders?”.

But Brexit is a big con­cern. She said: ‘It’s dif­fi­cult to give an opin­ion on this with­out sound­ing too neg­a­tive. It’s been this long sour di­vorce and we’re all the chil­dren re­ally suf­fer­ing from it. The ex­change rates were the big­gest hit for us be­cause we buy ev­ery­thing in US dol­lars and we sell in pounds. It’s been a mas­sive hit on mar­gins – no one else will take the squeeze.’

 ??  ?? VI­SION: Anika Is­lam shunned a ca­reer in fi­nance
VI­SION: Anika Is­lam shunned a ca­reer in fi­nance

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