Designs on Life: Young Mums Fashion Their Futures

A group of young Dundee parents are hailing a summer fashion industry programme ‘life changing’, arming them with the skills and confidence to fashion their futures.

During the last five weeks, local charity Front Lounge has been working with fashion design house Isolated Heroes, giving 10 parents a practical insight into everything from the design and manufacture of clothing for themselves and their child, through to the business skills required to take their products to market.

The young parents wearing their creations!


Front Lounge, which empowers young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve bigger, better, brighter futures, runs a number of projects including Kindred Clothing which secured two years of funding from Young Start (National Lottery Community Fund) to arm young parents with the skills to create their own clothes while their children play. The summer block took their practical skills to the next stage, covering key business concepts.

The parents explored trend forecasting and design and created clothing in line with standard industry practice including the use of mood and presentation boards. They also mastered the business skills involved, learning how to create a ‘Bill of Materials’ to show their understanding of cost price and mark-up.

Pic Alan Richardson


Samantha Paton of Isolated Heroes believes there was much more to the project than making clothes – “We have been exceptionally impressed by the talent shown throughout this block. Not only have these ladies created an amazing package to showcase, well beyond what would be expected of them if applying for college, but leave with a real sense of pride and achievement. Life as a parent is tough and tiring but it’s been amazing to watch their skills develop, their confidence grow and just watch them have some fun and achieve something for themselves.”

The group now leave with their research moodboards, design board, pattern, garments, Bill of Materials and complete costings for pricing their item for industry, as well as high quality styled photographs.

Hannah Watson, with daughter Grace


Zoe Smith, 21 year old Mum to two year old Tilly Fox commented, “This has been a once-in-a-lifetime and life-changing opportunity and I think I speak for everyone involved! I personally had such an amazing time, not only making the designs and the clothes but doing this while bonding with Tilly. We’ve learnt practical skills but also patience – doing something so intense alongside your child takes a lot of patience but it’s been so empowering, and the only way is up!”

Chelsea French (20), Mum to 18 month old Kiera added, “Not only have we gained more experience with the sewing machines, and explored our own creativity, but discovered more about the business side of fashion. It’s definitely not straightforward but this block would definitely help me if I decided to start my own business and has also proved that I’m capable of doing things I didn’t think I could. I joined Kindred Clothing to make friends for myself and my daughter, but I’ve now bought my own sewing machine and will definitely be developing the skills I’ve gained.”

Echoing Zoe and Chelsea’s sentiments is Chelsie Bruce (27), Mum to five year old Brooke and ‘Bringing Up Baby’ leader – “Working with Isolated Heroes has been amazing and learning the business side of things has made us realise we can possibly do this ourselves! Not only have I learnt that I could run a small business, I’m also now able to make Brooke a wardrobe of ‘one off’s’!”

Pic Alan Richardson – Samantha Paton of Isolated Heroes.


As one of Front Lounge’s projects, all of which are led by young people themselves, Kindred Clothing is equipping young parents with knowledge, resources and technical knowhow, while building their confidence and networks in the process. The project grew out of the ongoing and highly successful ‘Bringing Up Baby’ project. Front Lounge is currently funded by Corra Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Robertson Trust, and Young Start (National Lottery Community Fund). Within the last year, the project team have made huge strides and, later this year, should have the means to ensure that participants will leave with a professional qualification.


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Front Lounge, formerly Pure Media UK, was created to empower young people to be more engaged, motivated, and resilient, help them gain better access to services, attain more through education and ultimately improve the life chances of the most marginalised in society.   Since its launch in 2001, Front Lounge has successfully supported over 38,000 people. All projects are designed and led by young people who are former participants, including a young parents’ group, a group for care experienced young people and a mental health group led by young people from across Scotland.

Samantha Paton’s fashion line Isolated Heroes was launched in 2012, shortly after her graduation from Heriot Watt University with a BAHons in Fashion Design For Industry. The range provides luxury items for younger audiences at an affordable price, moving away from what Samantha describes as ‘mediocre, trend-led seasonal collections’ and, instead, focusing the brand on international markets offering a constant supply of mini collections throughout the year. Isolated Heroes also provides customers with an interactive digital design experience, showcasing live blogs and documented behind-the-scenes footage via social media channels engaging a staggering 47.5K Instagram followers. Isolated Heroes counts Miley Cyrus, Paloma Faith, Be Charlotte and Pixie Lott amongst its growing international client base.

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