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Rachel Beattie

Co-founder, Careux 

 

And - STEM Ambassador, Code First Girls Ambassador, Pankhurst Centre Centenary City Ambassador 

I wanted to create a brand that celebrated amazing role models, with every action we took striving to have a positive impact.

What do you do?

"We wanted to create a dress that changed to fit each and every woman."

I am the co-founder of luxury ethical womenswear brand, Careaux with my sister and best friend, Laura. From an idea when I was fourteen, inspired by my Nana’s love of dressmaking and combining my love of fashion and Maths, we have designed and created a brand new dress. The Careaux Dress has a hidden zip around the waist, which enables it to separate into a top and skirt, allowing the wearer to have a different or same size top to bottom and interchange the tops and skirts to create different style, fabric and colour combinations. We were driven to be fully inclusive and diverse, and each dress is made locally in Manchester using ethically sourced fabric that has been saved from landfill.

 

As it is only myself and Laura in the business, we work on a wide range of tasks from social media to fabric sourcing to meeting with suppliers and clients.

Why did you choose this field?

"I am really passionate about promoting the link between maths and fashion."

I had the ‘lightbulb’ moment for Careaux ten years ago. I was studying for my GCSEs and my two favourite subjects were Maths and Art. I was completely obsessed with fashion as well, so for my Art GCSE I decided to make a dress. Luckily, my Nana had been a dressmaker since she was fourteen. She spoke so passionately about the importance of quality and how each piece should fit to the individual, I fell completely in love with the process. Alongside this, I used to ‘borrow’ Laura’s clothes, but they were either too small on top or I wanted to add sleeves. Then one night I had the idea for Careaux, inspired by the fact that we are all different shapes and sizes and have different styles and these all change throughout our lives. Yet, clothing and dresses do not accommodate this or change to fit to us, instead we often feel like we need to change to fit into clothes, I wanted to eradicate that feeling!

As soon as I had the idea for Careaux, I knew that was what I wanted to do but I didn't even know where to start. I was at school and Laura was at University, we had never run a business and did not know anyone who had ran a business before either. I always knew I wanted to create the change I wanted with Careaux. I wanted to create a brand that celebrated amazing role models, with every action we took striving to have a positive impact from the fabric to the packaging to supporting causes we care about, including the lack of women in STEM.

 

I am really passionate about promoting maths. For background, I have used problem solving learned from maths to solve issues like over 90% of women having a different size top to bottom. Also, I have applied an area of maths called ‘combinatorics’ (the study of how you can count different ways you can combine different things) as the ‘number of tops x number of skirts = number of dresses’ you can make. Also, the mindset learned from maths of perseverance and trying different ways has been invaluable when starting your own business.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

One of my reasons for starting Careaux was to prove that you can do anything and I wanted to create a brand that showcased incredible people who have done so, regardless of age, size, background etc. Therefore, I do not think there is anything I wish I could have told myself was possible as I am a huge believer that even though there will undoubtedly be many setbacks, if you are determined and keep going you can get there in the end. This is one of the things that has kept me going, as I do not have a fashion background or haven't run a business before so there has been a lot of learning and a lot of help from others. Although there have been times when I have wished I could tell my younger self to start earlier and go more quickly, but looking back I am really grateful for that time as it meant I could really take my time finding the fabric, suppliers etc. that I really wanted to work with whilst staying true to my values.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I do think every career is a career in STEM! I absolutely adore working in STEM, as maths has been integral to my life. It has taught me that anything is possible and you can achieve anything. There are so many times when I have tried to solve a maths problem and I could not do it the first time, or many other times. But maths has taught me the importance of determination and to keep trying different ways and you will get there in the end. This has been integral when starting a business.

 

I also absolutely love STEM’s ability to create and invent new things that can really help people and change peoples' and animals' lives for the better. One of my favourite things is having the opportunity to work with, and see young people trying to create change and changing the world. It was an honour to go back to my old school, Loreto Grammar in Altrincham and visit the STEM club. They were creating the most amazing apps, with their main focus being how they can help people. I find it so rewarding to see the next generation coming through and I think STEM careers present so much opportunity for this.

Best advice for the next generation

You can do anything! My favourite quote I heard recently was from Barack Obama who said  to ‘dream without limit and reach for those goals’.

Role model 

Rachel Riley and Jacqueline De Rojas, not only for all the incredible actions they take to promote STEM in particular around the lack of women in STEM. But, it is also their generosity, kindness and selfless support to help anyone they can, support the next generation and stand up for what they believe in.