Alumna of the month - May 2011

Sarah Elenany
BSc (Hons) Engineering Product Design, 2006 
MSc Enterprise, 2009

Fiona Bowman

After achieving her undergraduate degree, LSBU alumna Sarah Elenany enrolled on the MSc Enterprise course and began working on her own business proposal. Within two years of launching her clothing company Sarah has stocked her products internationally, has been featured in fashion magazine ‘Cosmopolitan’ and has been approached by organisations and individuals to make bespoke items.

Sarah started studying at LSBU on the BSc Engineering Product Design course; she had always had a creative side and enjoyed making things, so felt this was the ideal course for her. Sarah had never really considered being her own boss until she reached her third and final year; when she developed an idea for her final year product which she thought could have a lot of potential. The product design students were visited by staff from the Enterprise Associate Course informing them of the scheme available. The Scheme provides support to Enterprise Associates for two years to enable them to develop and test their business ideas. At the same time Associates undergo a structured enterprise learning programme leading to an MSc in Enterprise. After learning about the support available and the opportunity for a maters qualification Sarah decided this was the ideal step for her.

Upon embarking on the master’s course Sarah began turning her final year project into a business proposal to manufacture posture corrective clothing. When carrying out the market research Sarah experienced some financial complications due to the fact extensive medical research was required.
Sarah had an alternative idea to create a clothing brand for Islamic women, designing clothes that are on trend but still conforming to religious beliefs. Finding this gap in the market enabled Sarah to offer consumers a niche brand.

As part of the MSc Enterprise Sarah had to put together a learning contract before setting up her company, this consisted of attending taught modules necessary to help the success of her business and gain the qualification.

After carrying out her extensive research and business training Sarah’s next step was to set up her website www.elenany.co.uk. The website proved to be very successful and showed a clear demand for Sarah’s designs. She began selling stock in boutiques in Ukraine and the fashion capital of the world – Paris. The level of demand quickly outstripped supply, so Sarah decided to outsource her manufacturing to a company in London, so she could concentrate on her clothing designs and expanding her business.

Sarah has found some difficulty entering the UK clothing market; it can be very tough for a new concept. Despite the issues that she has faced Sarah says

I want to grow the brand organically even if it does take time, I don’t want to risk changing the concept.

In the two years since launching her business Sarah has gained some fantastic exposure on the BBC website, The Guardian, Independent and most recently she has appeared in a feature article in one of the biggest women’s magazine ‘Cosmopolitan’. Her business is going from strength to strength, Sarah has also been approached by individuals and organisations to design some bespoke items. Having designed some bespoke fashion accessories for a Canadian rapper and other items of the general public, Sarah’s portfolio is rapidly expanding presenting a further business opportunity.
Sarah is thoroughly enjoying the journey and is looking forward to future plans of expanding,

Designing is my favourite thing to do, I am doing something I love everyday.