Rowan Sharp completed a BA Honours degree in fashion accessories at Cordwainers, London College of Fashion.
How did you find your time at the College?
I found my time at LCF incredibly beneficial and inspiring. Not only did I receive the best level of tuition and support but I was also introduced to amazing opportunities that have furthered my career immensely.
How would you describe the course and the teaching? Were there any standout staff members?
The accessories course at LCF excelled all of my expectations. Throughout my time at Cordwainers I received fantastic practical advice and tuition from all the technicians. There level of skill and expertise were second to none and they were able to help me turn my ideas into final well executed products. My course leader, Darla Gilroy was inspirational. She was always available to offer help and guidance and she was very encouraging and understanding of my creative vision.
What skills did you learn and are still using now?
I learnt lots of new skills at LCF many of which I still use today. I learnt to stay focused when designing my range of accessories
and to consider my target market carefully. That way I was able to deliver a range of products that were not only aesthetically pleasing but also designed especially with the consumer in mind. I also became much more disciplined with my time management whilst at LCF. I learnt to deliver my collections by the deadlines set and to the brief given, this is an important skill I still use today as I often have to work to tight deadlines.
Tell us about your barge and the courses you now deliver?
Since completing my degree last year, I have gone on to establish my own leather accessories label, Unum Mori. The ethos behind my brand focuses on the production of high quality, well-made leather goods. I am also extremely passionate about the preservation of traditional leather skills and this is what led me to set up classes in all aspects of leatherwork. I have a unique contemporary space on board a boat in central London where people are able to participate in classes on leatherwork. I have also recently opened a large studio in the beautiful setting of Yorkshire. It is here that the accessories for Unum Mori are designed and made. I also host classes in leatherwork here too. The leather classes are taught by industry experts who I have had the pleasure to work alongside. By collaborating with such experts in the leather industry I feel I am able to continue to pass on these valuable skills to future generations.
What have been the biggest challenges, if any, in building your career and business within the industry?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced when setting up my business has been the time it has taken to organise and launch my brand. Because I have a clear vision in my head of how I want the products to look and feel it has taken a long time to develop the prototypes but I am working closely with British manufacturers in order to successfully achieve the desired final range.
It has also taken a long time to set up the studios and equipment in preparation for the classes, but I am happy that I have taken the time as it has enabled me to get some amazing teachers on board so that I can deliver a high standard of tuition.
What’s the biggest highlight to date?
The biggest highlight of my career so far is being awarded the Jimmy Choo accessories designer of the year 2015. Receiving this prestigious award was a great honour and I hope to continue to work hard and develop my label and deliver classes in leatherwork to many people.
Tell us about an average day at your job?
There is no such thing as an average day at Unum Mori and that is what I love most about my job.
When I am at the studio in Yorkshire I will be finalising designs for the brand. I will then work on the production of the range and uploading the products to the website. Later that day I will be organising bookings for the leather classes. This will involve many different responsibilities from replenishing tools and leathers used to liaising with the tutors and developing the content of the classes. I may then travel to London where I will host various events on board the boat. I have created a unique space on the boat which is often used as a gallery to exhibit work of designers and artists. I love to be involved with creative projects.
What advice would you give someone who wants to set up their own business or get into the industry?
My advice for anyone wanting to establish a business in this industry is to stay true to yourself and your vision. Even though it will be tough and you will have obstacles to overcome if you remain passionate about what you do then you will succeed.