FCFTA – Why we are going that extra mile – a CEO’s perspective 

The FC Fashion Technology Academy (FTA) was created because Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL) could see that there was a huge crisis in skills for the garment manufacturing industry.

FEL started manufacturing in 2009 with its Workshop service in Mavros Road in Haringey.  Jenny comments: “We were completely unaware of the demand by designers/brands for reliable and ethical sampling.” FEL started with just 6 machinists, a cutter and a manager for the site but within a year they had been awarded a sampling contract by ASOS that then gave them the stability to plan and grow the manufacturing side.

Fortuitously Jenny was at a press event for ASOS and met Nick Robertson the original founder of the online brand and they started discussing ‘made in the UK’ and how important it was to be reactive to demand. This then lead to a £230k grant from ASOS to enable FEL to open a factory. Unbelievable when you think back.

A key defining moment was ASOS supporting the Stitching Academy 13th July 2013. Since then FEL has continued to invest in skills, education and the importance of having a quality defined training provision.

Jenny stated that FEL has real values that underpin and guide its day-to-day activity and future development:

  • Integrity: We will operate ethically, reliably and honestly;  We are always there for our learners and our backdrop to ethical is our factory that has a leading status in the Fast Forward audit. The only factory that has this benchmark of excellence.
  • Excellence: We will exceed expectations and strive to be the best we can be in everything that we do – whether that’s a short internal course, a Saturday Sewing Class or the array of qualifications that we deliver.
  • Care and Respect: We will provide a caring and understanding environment, acknowledging each other’s individuality and differences and this is why I have personally undertaken a counselling course after Covid because I realised that the isolation for many people has created anxiety.We also have two mental health first aiders and we create WAP independently to support all learners.
  • Differentiation: We are leaders in skills attainment for garment manufacturing. We go that extra mile and have invested heavily into the latest technology so we can allow everyone to have a solid exciting learning experience because we know everyone is different and we create a unique points of difference for each and every learner.

FEL’s Commitment:

To be the best means that we will focus on…

  • Learners: Providing learners with excellence in tuition, a positive learning environment and the opportunity to excel in the UK employment market; we have amazing growth now in the garment manufacturing sector and this means we can provide the right skills to give our learners the right chance for a job that’s right for them.
  • Skills: Providing industry and the community with the highest skills which will develop capability and achieve local and national competitiveness; having sites in Leicester, Islington and Newtown in Wales as well as site in Haringey means that we can offer a wide breadth of skills, work experience opportunities and employment.
  • Staff: Providing a working environment that attracts staff, nurtures leaders and encourages excellence and a global outlook. Jenny further commented: “We couldn’t find the right staff to teach our learners. We found that traditional teachers were out of date and were not aligned to the right skills required by industry today. So we trained our own! I am incredibly proud of our team and we have a dedicated Quality Assurance Manager that ensures we are constantly delivering to the ultimate level we can all operate at. To enforce this Jenny went through education herself and is a trained teacher at Level 5, an assessor and an IQA. Jenny’s motivation is very much you must lead from the top.”

Each Monday the FTA team has a Weekly Team Meeting which reviews the shared values, policies and practices that are taking place to ensure there is continual professional development and a constant review of the courses that are delivered.

Jenny said: “I used to run the Weekly Team Meeting but I realised it was far stronger to have this meeting run by the Quality Assurance Manager who prepared diligently for each meeting ahead of the 9am meeting.  It also acts as a great way to keep in touch with staff at every level. This gives me the time to focus on improving staff, subject, pedagogical and the content of what we deliver. I am amazed now when I see the workbooks and I can see we are version 13/4/5! We constantly strive for excellence at all levels.”