Becky Okell studied her Foundation at Central Saint Martins (CSM), and then went on to do the BSc International Fashion Management at London College of Fashion (LCF). Becky recently won the UAL Enterprising Alumni Award, for her brand Paynter, a sustainable workwear made to order jacket. She has also joined the UAL Enterprising Association Committee, and was a panellist at their most recent event, Alternative Approaches to Start-ups: Community and Relationships...
What made you want to study at UAL? And how did you find your time there?
I actually studied at Central St Martins first. Growing up there was nowhere else I was going to study. I only applied to CSM because my heart was set on it. Had I not got in, I'd have reapplied every year until I did haha. I specialised in textiles and got into BA, but then over the summer between foundation and BA I started working. I had two jobs, the first was hand embroidery for Mary Katrantzou, and the other was a press assistant at the British Fashion Council. I had the best years working at the BFC and learnt an incredible amount with a brilliant team. While there, I learnt that most colleagues studied Fashion Management at LCF, so a few weeks before I was due to start back at CSM, I transferred to LCF, excited to learn about the other jobs that existed within the industry and all that could be ahead of me.
What have you been up to since graduating from LCF?
After graduating I went to work for Nike in their London marketing team, after an incredible 2 years I moved on wanting to learn from smaller businesses. I was really lucky to join the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, a fast track program for 50 young people who want to start their own business, it's a part time program where you learn new skills for 2 days a month, while working full time. While there I set up the marketing dept for Caravan Restaurants & Coffee Roasters (I know, a bit rogue!) and then I joined It's Nice That's marketing team while setting up Paynter with my boyfriend Huw.
Tell us more about Paynter Ltd… How did the brand come about, and what have been the biggest challenges you have overcome since you launched?
Paynter is a brand dedicated to jackets. We'll only ever make limited edition jackets. We make 3 styles a year, in batches of 300. Every one is hand numbered and has a limited edition illustration on the inside. We work hard to understand our supply chain and show very detail in a transparent way throughout our website and marketing. We make to order, so there's no waste. Our first jacket launched in May 2019 and sold out of 300 pieces in 14 minutes. We're working on the next jacket at the moment, and will be launching in October 2019!
You recently won the Enterprising alumni Award at UAL – how did you feel when you found out you had won? How do you think winning will benefit you in the future?
I couldn't believe it. I've never won anything, so I was in total disbelief. The prize coincided with my decision to leave full time work to concentrate on Paynter full time, so winning this award was a huge confidence boost that I'd made the right decision, and that people believed in what we're doing. We want to keep learning about our supply chain and the textiles we're using, so we hope that we can put the money towards developing fabrics together with our suppliers.
You are also going to be involved in the UAL Enterprising Alumni Association – tell us more about your plans for this and what you hope to achieve…
I am! I'm so excited about this. I'd love bring what I've learnt about building communities for Paynter, to the UEAA. In my short experience so far, entrepreneurship is all about giving and helping others. Having that attitude will push us all to do more and go further, so I'm excited to see how we can host some meaningful and impactful events that get us all learning, talking and supporting each other to grow in our own ways.