When were you at Reigate and what did you study?

I was at Reigate between 2008 and 2010 and did A Levels in Fine Art (A*), History (A) and English Literature & Language (B). I also did an AS in Graphic Design (A).

How did you find your courses at Reigate?

The teaching was both inspiring and challenging. Emma Owen, Head of Art was such a wonderful teacher and a great source of encouragement to me.

What did you do after you left College?

I did an Art Foundation at Reigate College of Art which was useful because it allowed me to experiment with different artistic disciplines, resulting in a final project, which was intended to direct my further study at university. My final project was a pop-up shop, modelled on the theme of Marie Antoinette.

After that I went to the University of Manchester to study Design Management for Fashion Retailing. My Art Foundation projects were based around retailing, so the degree at Manchester just made sense.

How did you find studying in Manchester?

I loved it. Manchester is a great uni. The city has three universities so there’s a lot going on for students. The course covered Branding, Buying, Textile Performance and Testing – all areas I’m interested in.

Did you do a placement year?

Yes. I worked in the Design Department at Wallis where I learnt about the whole process of designing and retailing. It definitely equipped me for the role I’m in now.

What are you doing now?

Since graduating from Manchester, I’ve been working as a Brand Assistant for a fashion company called NOOKI DESIGN. It took a while to make it my own, but I’m now completely loving it. After six months they promoted me to Brand Manager, so I’m now in control of wholesale, media, visual merchandising concepts in the shop, managing the photoshoots and website design. I also go on buying inspiration trips to places like Copenhagen, to get ideas for the shop and research new brands to stock. It’s pretty full on, but I love to be challenged and kept busy.

What are the job prospects like for someone with your background?

There are loads of opportunities for graduates like me, but you need to use your time at uni wisely. Getting valuable work experience and different kinds of it is really important.

And you’ve now started your own business on the side?

Yes, it’s an accessories business that my fiancé and I have started called Star and Wonder. We’re starting with bobble hats, and are also moving into beach accessories (see We’re trading in three boutiques across the UK.

What are your plans for the future?

Before working on my own business full-time, I’d like to work in a similar role to the one I’m in now, for a larger fashion company. Longer term, my dream has always been to have my own shop and it finally feels that at some point in the future it could be a reality!

Alice Starkey

Left Reigate College: 2010

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