Multi-award winning fashion designer Zekaryas Solomon had already spent three years running his eponymous label when he sought out company development support from the incubation at Ravensbourne programme.
Eritrean-born Zekaryas joined the scheme with his established fashion label, a high-concept collection of individual bespoke tailoring and ready-to-wear garments for both men and women. Having previously spent four years working as an architect he developed a passionate interest in fashion design, culminating in him graduating with a masters degree from the London College of Fashion in 2010 after studying pattern design & garment technology.
In developing his fashion label, Zekaryas has drawn inspiration from his Eritrean heritage by re-interpreting traditional costumes with a futuristic, functional edge, and fusing these influences with the skills he learned from his architectural training by delivering pieces with clean lines and impeccable structure.
Zekaryas recognised that his eclectic mix of creative skills wasn’t enough to create a successful company – and that’s where the incubation at Ravensbourne programme has given him support to help him take his company to the next level.
“Design excellence and creative ability are only the beginning – I needed practical things like space and equipment, and a lot of help and guidance about how to run a viable business. I also felt it was important to have creative people around me in a networking environment,” he notes. “The incubation at Ravensbourne programme offers all these things.”
As an ‘incubatee’ Zekaryas is largely based at Ravensbourne, where he has access to lecturers and experts, including incubation Manager, Ha Smith, who continue to give him invaluable advice on issues such as marketing and business development. He has also been able to utilise Ravensbourne’s specialist fashion facilities and equipment to create his Spring/Summer 2014 menswear collection between August and October 2013.
“It has been a great experience so far,” says Zekaryas. “The scheme has enabled me to communicate better, easier and faster with everyone I work with due to the high-tech facilities. The opportunities for networking, connecting and cooperating with other companies on the programme, students, graduates and lecturers have been invaluable. I also greatly appreciate the enormous space, the great fashion environment and of course the facilities.”
Although his company remains small with a group of five interns working on Zekaryas’ bespoke designs, he acknowledges that the scheme has helped his business become more organised and professional, as well as ensuring that he can share his experience more broadly.
“I can also pass on what I have learned to my interns, most of who are not currently fashion students but are now planning to change their careers,” he says. “They see how things work and want to learn as much as they can from my experiences.”
In reflecting on his own experience, Zekaryas has a final word of advice for other fledgling creative businesses. “I would definitely recommend applying for the incubation at Ravensbourne programme because it's a great opportunity for everyone to progress, develop, network and grow,” he states.
Has Zekarayas’ story inspired you?Us here at Ravensbourne incubation would love to hear from you so get in touch.
Find out more about Zekaryas Solomon’s work at zekaryassolomon.com