A fashion brand is flourishing thanks to the support of the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund (DEGF).

Fashion designer Chiemelie Umeh will be launching a new collection online in early 2018, as well as employing her first member of staff, with plans to increase the headcount by the end of 2018.

Whilst she originally trained as a pharmacist and worked in that profession for ten years, Chiemelie’s dream had always been to build her own clothing brand. Her vision was to bring an Afro-European touch to women’s clothing, harmonising the bright, bold pattern and colour of African design with European fabrics for a contemporary look with wide appeal.

Her creations first hit the catwalk at Africa Fashion Week in London in 2015 where the “Chiemelie” brand was born. Encouraged by the positive reviews she went on to exhibit at the pure London International trade exhibition in 2016. With potential distributors knocking on her door, Chiemelie needed to take the next step and invest in premises where she could create a sewing room and studio.

The new collection features a range of clothing bearing Chiemelie’s signature style. From ascot-ready dresses to elegant jumpsuits, each piece is set to make woman feel confident, beautiful and empowered.

Chiemelie said:

“I was very surprised when my application for a DEGF grant was accepted. Being able to access the funding was a game changer for me. It enabled me to respond at the right time to take advantage of the interest that came from exhibiting. Now I could move much faster to make my ambitions a reality.”

Derby City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Regeneration & the Economy, Councillor Martin Rawson, added:

“Our funding scheme is one of the most successful of its type in the country. We were very pleased to be able to give this young company some assistance at a vital time in its development. I look forward to hearing about the growth and expansion of this exciting new fashion brand as it creates future employment opportunities for local people.”

DEGF is now entering a new phase with the distribution of £12 million of recycled loan funding.

Applications are invited from businesses with plans for growth and job creation in Derby and Derbyshire.

Further funding is being sought to enable this fantastic scheme to be extended to more businesses in Derbyshire in the near future.

For more information, or to apply for funding, visit the DEGF website.