Food bank-using single mum starts design business

Categories: Salford Business School

A single mother who was forced to use food banks during the pandemic is using her fashion business to give back to those in need. 

Roxanne Halenko, from Blackburn, recently graduated from the University of Salford with a distinction in MA Fashion Design and now runs her own online, bespoke bridal and occasion wear boutique. After struggling during lockdown and having to turn to foodbanks, she has vowed to use her business to give back.

Her business, Roxanne Halenko design, has an inventory of custom-made occasional wear ranging from wedding to prom dresses. Each garment is an original piece that Roxanne has designed, sewn and altered herself to create bespoke, unique dresses that are tailored to each customer. Clients can choose from a variety of designs showcased on the website or book a consultation and have Roxanne design a one-off original gown.

As well as creating her high end garments, Roxanne has established a partnership with the global giving initiative B1G1 (buy one, give one). B1G1 was created to achieve more social impact by embedding giving activities in everyday business operations, meaning that with businesses can make donations and give to charities with every sale.

B1G1 allows its partners to select specific causes to donate to. Roxanne chose the Buddy Bag Foundation, meaning from every garment purchased from her custom-made bridal collection, a child in emergency accommodation across the UK receives a “buddy bag” filled with necessities, such as toiletries, pyjamas and underwear, alongside a bear to provide comfort and love.

Roxanne said: “It’s lovely to be able to incorporate my business into something much bigger and give it a greater purpose.

“I’ve always said that charity begins at home. I’ve had to rely on charities and foodbanks when times have been tough, so I want to give back to show my gratitude.”

She explained how when her customers purchase one of her bespoke, handmade gowns, they love feeling as though their purchase is more than just supporting a small business, but a child in need too.

While studying at the University of Salford, Roxanne sought the help from the purpose-built business incubator Launch@ Salford, to help develop her business further. Launch@ was established in 2018 to aid students and graduates in developing and growing their business ideas. It enables users to gain access to specialist support and guidance from a team of business advisors, alongside providing them with office space and financial aid over a period of six-months.

Roxanne said: “Launch has been great in helping me refine and refresh my business skills, whilst inspiring me to consider new avenues for my business and what I can do to expand my brand.

“I’m really wanting to create a secondary collection of RH – Wear the Change occasional wear, that’s more suited to events like engagement parties, hen dos and graduations. I’m excited to see what else Launch will help me discover. It’s never too late to learn new business skills.”

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