Monday 29 February 2016
An ambitious mum-of-one has credited the University of Northampton for helping her to achieve her life’s ambition and start her own business.
This spring will see graduate Tanya Russo launch Russo Activewear, her own clothing brand specialising in colourful gym wear for women.
The launch marks the realisation of Tanya’s long-held dream to become her own boss and regain a happier work-life balance.
The 41-year-old from Northampton, who graduated in 2014 with a first-class honours degree in Advertising, has been guided by the institution’s Enterprise Club, which supports business start-ups.
“Starting your own business represents a massive leap of faith, but the support I’ve received from the Enterprise Club has been incredible, and has given me the very best start,” said Tanya.
“I received a financial contribution to fund my research and development of the products, but more importantly, the club put me in touch with a business mentor who has been instrumental in bringing my ideas to life.
“He has a background in the textiles industry and was able to find a manufacturer for me – something that would have been a struggle to do on my own, as manufacturers can be hard to persuade if you’re a new business.
“The Enterprise Club also provided business training, which has helped me with my business acumen and to understand the behind-the-scenes aspect of running your own set-up.”
Tanya took the first step towards becoming self employed in 2011, when she enrolled on the Advertising course.
She said: “I had a successful career as an area manager for a promotional agency, but trying to balance the job with family life was difficult.
“My daughter was at primary school, and I felt as though I didn’t have enough time with my family.
“I’d always wanted to run my own business, but wasn’t sure what I could specialise in, until my friend told me I should do something that I loved 100 per cent – and for me, that’s being in the gym.
“I like to wear smart, bright clothes, but I found that gym wear was mainly black and I couldn’t find anything I liked. So I realised there was a gap in the market, and knew I could make a go of my idea.
“Now, shops like H&M and Tesco are actually bringing in bright colour ranges of gym wear, so my business is launching at the right time, as colourful gym clothes become more popular.”
Tanya designs all the pieces herself, and uses suppliers and manufacturers in Nottingham and Manchester, respectively, making Russo Activewear an all-British venture.
“I’m so excited to be doing something I enjoy so much and have such a passion for,” added Tanya.
“I wanted to prove to myself, and my daughter, that I could do this, and I have.”
Sharon Irwin, Enterprise Club Manager, said: “Tanya is a fantastic example of how the service the Enterprise Club can provide have come together to form a support system to help her start and grow her business.
“We look forward to seeing Russo Activewear go from strength to strength.”
The Enterprise Club offers free membership to staff, students and local entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs.
It offers one-to-one business advice, mentoring, business skills training, networking with other entrepreneurs and access to funding opportunities.
To find out more about the Enterprise Club, visit the University of Northampton website.