Alvanon Bursary Awardees Meet CEO

Alvanon’s Chief Executive Officer, Janice Wang, visited the FTA to meet the latest cohort of Alvanon bursary awardees. The learners were incredibly thankful for being awarded the bursary and meeting Janice in person, who explained a little more about how the Alvanon bursary came to be.


Awardee Gabriela Gower Perez comments: “I learned sewing from my grandma as a little girl in Mexico City and I have always been involved in the garment industry having pursued a stylist and costume designer career in the past. The Stitching Academy Level 1 and 2 courses have helped me reconnect with my roots; I have learned to be patient using machines. The power a garment has in making a human being feel good, the psychological effect it has on people fascinates me. I have now found an opportunity as a crowd dresser on the set of a BBC drama.


“My dream is to open up an online clothing shop employing disadvantaged Mexican women so they can become self-sufficient, alongside supporting organisations such as ‘Semillas’, a non-profit organization focused on improving women’s lives in Mexico https://www.semillas.org.mx/en/


“I want to do more courses to build more skills and improve my existing knowledge. My advice to a future learner would be that if you have little English do not let that get you down. Just keep on moving!”


(Left to right: Production Director Caroline Ash, learner Gabriela Gower at the back, learner Cee Cee in the centre, learner Olanike centre right, Janice from Alvanon on the right)


Olanike Olawale – Sanni: “After two cancer scares, a laparoscopy and three years of unemployment, life was not OK. My background was in accounting and I decided to do something different with my life. In 2017, I travelled to Nigeria to see my parents, developed an interest in wanting to use a sewing machine. I did some research and came across Fashion Enter. I joined the Level 1 Stitching Academy and applied via the Alvanon Bursary for the Stitching Academy Level 2 course.


“Thank-you for giving back my life, you are a godsend! I want to set up my own business in elegant womenswear for the African community. If I could survive what I have been through, I can survive anything. I will continue training on the Perfect Patterns Level 2 course at the FTA.”


Cee Cee Gyimah adds: “I have been doing fashion for ages and have a BA in Fashion Design and Marketing. The Fashion Technology Academy courses are hands on. I have learned a lot more doing the Level 1 and 2 Perfect Patterns than three years at London College of Fashion. It seems that they are more high street focused rather than technical skills focused. I am planning to launch a swimwear line for curvy girls inspired by my and my friends’ frustration of not finding anything on the market.”


Janice Wang, CEO of Alvanon comments: “There is such a good partnership with Alvanon and Fashion Enter because of the focus it gives on technical skills.


“These stories are very inspirational, and as women we always keep things inside! Cancer is tough mentally and physically. Everyone has their own stories on how they began their learner journey, and I hope that you will continue.


“Thank you Olanike for offering to run a business plan workshop for learners at the Fashion Technology Academy. My advice would be to hone the body type, as most of the sizing was done by men following an algorithm. Adapt the mathematics accordingly, do the demographics (African American curve, Latina curve, Caucasian curve). If you do things from your heart, you will follow your instinct.”