Could Evie be Kent’s Young Business Woman of the Year?

Evie Wells started her business, EV Designs, in 2015 having found that the clothing she was looking for was nowhere to be found in local retail outlets, or even online. Recently, she has been nominated in the Kent Women in Business Awards 2018 for the ‘Young Business Woman of the Year’ category.

Following Evie’s search for clothing, and after research on YouTube, Evie found a way to print her own t-shirts that enables her to combine a passion for DIY with her artistic talents. Tie-dyeing has become one of her trademarks, which enables her to create bold and unique designs, and two years on she now takes custom requests from her clients.

There were over 60 nominations for the ‘Young Business Woman of the Year’ category and Evie is one of the eight finalists, she says: “It is so amazing to see how many women are putting themselves out there and pushing themselves to achieve new and interesting things. We can do it, and we will.”

Below Evie answers a few questions about her experience of being a businesswoman in Kent, having only recently completed a Media & Communication course at Canterbury College.

How do you feel to have been nominated as a ‘Young Business Woman of the Year’?

It is actually so surreal to have been nominated, let alone to be a finalist for ‘Young Business Woman of the Year’. I don’t quite believe it yet.

How did you come up with the idea for your clothing brand and printing business?

It was only when my friends at Canterbury College started asking for custom t-shirts that I saw the potential for building a business. Before that it was just a hobby.

In January 2017, I invested in professional printing equipment and began offering a printing service for bulk orders. Since then I have sold to sports clubs, school bands and colleges. My client list keeps growing!

What is your favourite design?

My favourite design has to be my alien tie-dye t-shirt. That t-shirt was the ‘aha’ moment for me and another reason EV Designs became a business.

How has this business helped to build your confidence, and/or overcome any hurdles?

Many people that I meet think I am really confident as I am very loud and chatty, but in reality I have suffered from severe anxiety since 2013, sometimes I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house. With help from a counsellor at College I was taught how to tackle my anxiety, and building EV Designs has helped to put my focus elsewhere, pushing me out of my comfort zone.

I am also dyslexic so simple tasks like writing an email can be hard. However, the more I write, the easier it becomes. I recently started a blog on my website, which was a daunting task. I am really proud that I have done this and I try to post once a week. I now find the process very therapeutic.

What was it like to runa stall at Canterbury Pride Last Year?

Pride was amazing. It was my first event and I didn’t know what to expect. I had many questions: How many t-shirts should I take? What designs should I print? How do I display everything? It was a massive learning curve for me. Pride turned out to be a huge success and I sold out of all of my tie-dye t-shirts. 

What other festivals are you hoping to run a stall at this year?

This year I am hoping to have a stall at Folkestone Pride and I am currently hunting for more events happening over the summer and at Christmas. I will also be approaching universities to see if I can have a stall at Fresher’s Fairs.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

I think just having the courage to try and do something new is an achievement on its own. Taking that first step to tell people about my business and approaching potential customers was terrifying.

Taking a first step is something that I think that many people, but women in particular, worry about. It nearly stopped me, but a quote from the film 'Cinderella Story' resonated with me at the time: ‘Don’t let the fear of striking out, stop you from playing the game.’

Where are you hoping to take your business over the next few years?

My main goals at the moment are to build my client list and to create new products for children and homeware sectors. In the next few years, I am hoping to be working full time at EV Designs as at the moment I also need to have a part-time job to support myself. I am also hoping to incorporate an embroidery service into my business, but I will need to crowdfund for this particular project.

On International Women’s Day, Evie is a setting a strong example for future female entrepreneurs. We wish her the very best for the awards night on Friday 9th of March.