Fashion Enter Ltd and FTA CEO Jenny Holloway discusswhy the Fashion Technology Academy (FTA) has such an important role to play within the fashion industry today.
Q: You have always been known for helping designers, creating samples and production. So why did you go down the education route?
Jenny: I have always been interested in education but I didn’t have the knowledge, resources or time to concentrate on setting up the UK’s first Fashion Technology Academy. I am also a stickler for detail too, so I wasn’t going to just open up any old FTA, I wanted the training to be the best it could possibly be and for that, I needed to understand how teaching works.
Q: What do you mean how teaching works?
Jenny: I wanted to know what it was like to be a good teacher – how to engage with learners, how to teach myself so I could then have empathy with and support teachers myself.
I went back to night school and spent four years studying to be a teacher with my PtLS and DTLS – Level 5. I then trained to be an assessor and then an IQA and now I am training to be an EV with ABC Awards. If you want to be the best at a service then you have to understand attention to detail and be there for the teachers themselves.
Q: Does the FTA sit as part of the company? Or is it all separate now?
Jenny: Both actually. I don’t believe you can teach without industry best practices and this was very much picked up by Ofsted when we had our Provider Monitoring Visit at the end of May 2019.
When we first started the Stitching Academy there were no stitching qualifications available – we had to write them with the support of ABC Awards. Can you believe that! We did this with patterns too and quality control plus machine maintenance. That was definitely a unique learning experience!
I am really glad that we did it though. It all worked well and today we are absolutely at full capacity on both Level 1 and 2 on both stitching and patterns. I am sure this is because of our exceptional teachers who are themselves so kind and patient and really want to pass on their industrial skills. We have such a great team.
The way we split up the company is that each part of the company i.e. FashionCapital, Belles, Factory, Fashion Studio and FTA are all separate but all under one company Fashion-Enter Ltd. That way we are totally transparent and everyone knows what their targets are.
It really works well – I have heard of some companies siphoning off money into different businesses and different accounts. We don’t do anything like that we are totally transparent. The company is Not-for-Profit limited by guarantee so that means I can never take out a dividend. It’s genuinely all about the business.
Q: So what is next for the FTA?
Jenny: We have received funding from the GLA and the Good Growth Fund to open a Tailoring Academy this year. It’s been very slow with issues of leases, building, budgets but we are getting there. I am so excited about this as I really do believe there is a huge future for tailoring in the UK, especially with the dreaded B-word around the corner in October.
Q: And how do you see the future….
Jenny: The future is bright and very orange! We have recently won a few bids that we can’t disclose yet but they are so exciting. We are looking at a retail opportunity and incubation space too. Then there are new learning platforms to consider! So much to do!