Ambitious ex-student, Jennifer Healy, has been hitting the headlines recently with her dazzling fashion collection that saw her win the TU Womenswear Scholarship. It is always great to hear about the success of our ex-students so we tracked Jennifer down for an interview...
How did you end up going down the fashion route?
During my years at Teesdale School, I studied art and 3D product design as my options as I loved doing anything creative so really enjoyed my classes.
I then went on to Queen Elizabeth in Darlington where I excelled in textiles. I started researching universities but all of the prestigious fashion universities required an art foundation degree which I was lucky enough to be able to do at QE.
Whilst doing my art foundation degree I applied for universities and I was lucky enough to get to go to Manchester School of Art.
Tell us about university...
During my three years at university, I experienced ups and downs, some of which made me doubt myself. However, after doing a project at the end of my second year, I just decided to let go. I was heavily inspired by my history in fine art and began to paint expressive prints. After that I just decided to be myself and that was really the beginning of how I came to make my collection what it is today.
Tell us about your collection...
For my final major project and collection, I began by researching abstract artists. I loved bright colours with expressive mark making on the page.
I also looked at sixties culture as it has always fascinated me. The shapes of clothing, length, use of colour and clashing print with varying opacities. With both of these ‘ingredients’, I created non repeat hand painted prints that I blew up and got digitally printed. Seeing the brush strokes gave my prints a 3D feel and quality to the fabric.
Tell us about the TU Scholarship
Whilst in my final year, I applied to various competitions including Tu at Sainsburys. I wasn’t expecting much to come of them so I was really pleasantly surprised when Tu selected me to go to their interview day at their headquarters in Coventry.
Going to the headquarters was an amazing experience in itself. I got to meet the design team and see how the studios worked in addition to speaking to last year’s men and womenswear winners of the scholarship. The two girls had loved working for Tu and had worked on the design team whilst developing their own collections to be sold in store. I felt like the interview went really well and it was lovely to speak to other students from other universities.
In the following weeks I found out I’d made it to the final six womenswear finalists and would be interviewed again at Graduate Fashion Week by head designers and designers ‘Teatum Jones’.
In the build-up to Graduate Fashion Week things began to get competitive and I was lucky enough to be selected to show on the catwalk. It was an amazing experience to see my collection go down the catwalk at London and I felt so honoured when Hilary Alexander shared an image of my collection on her Instagram.
Tell us about the final interview...
For the interview we were encouraged to bring some of our collection in addition to our portfolios and lookbooks. I managed to stumble through the interview and the judges were all so lovely.
A couple of hours later was the Gala show where the awards are given. When they said my name I thought I had misheard! I was so overwhelmed and shocked. I was handed a Swarovski award and interviewed and photographed back stage. I still don’t think its sunk in and doesn’t feel real!
What does the scholarship mean to you?
I’ll be starting my paid scholarship in September working on the womenswear design team and developing my collection to be sold commercially in Sainsbury’s stores around the country.
It’s been such a whirlwind time and it still hasn’t sunk in. The Telegraph shared my work as one of the 12 to watch in a recent article and the Teesdale Mercury are writing a follow-up article on me winning the award. It’s all a bit crazy!
Well done Jennifer, we wish you the best of luck and we can't wait to see your designs in Sainsburys very soon!