Ilkeston fashion designer wins Dragons’ Den-style competition for funding

Ilkeston fashion designer, Michael Wallace.
Ilkeston fashion designer, Michael Wallace.

A well-known fashion designer is celebrating after landing a cash prize following a Dragons’ Den-style competition.

Entrepreneur Michael Wallace, of Kirk Hallam, won £3,000 after pitching his collection to a panel of seven businesswomen at an event organised by the Nottinghamshire Community Foundation alongside Judy Naake, the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, at the University of Nottingham on January 26.

Michael Wallace, from Ilkeston, with designers Anne Edwards (left) and Susan Nininger (right). Photo contributed.

Michael Wallace, from Ilkeston, with designers Anne Edwards (left) and Susan Nininger (right). Photo contributed.

The 26-year-old, who has previously showcased his work in Hollywood, says he will use the funding to help boost his business - House of Michael Wallace - which designs men’s, women’s and children’s couture.

“It all went very well and I got a standing ovation,” Michael said.

“I felt very organised, it was just a case of everything falling into place in terms of the timings because you only get a certain amount of time.

“I am going to invest the money into areas which have lacked in recent years like promotion, look books and premises.”

The former New College Nottingham student applied for the contest by submitting a business plan outlining where he would like to progress his company.

He was then given a date and a time slot for the chance to impress the experts and land the cash prize.

Michael planned his presentation right down to the finer details including using models to give the panel a mini fashion show of his collection.

“I could tell by their faces that they were not expecting the models to come in,” Michael explained.

“I got a phone call about two hours later - I did not think it would be that quick. It was a very exciting phone call.”

Michael’s studio is on Station Street and it will be officially opened later this year.

His other plans for the rest of the year include going to New York and LA fashion weeks.

He added: “It is all about trying to grow the business and perhaps take on some staff.”

Michael’s grandma taught him how to sew at just seven years old and his dad has a background in DIY.

He said: “When I would watch a film I was always interested in what the actors were wearing rather than the storyline.

“My advice to any aspiring fashion designers is perseverance.

“A positive can turn into a negative and a negative can turn into a positive. You have just got to stay focused and keep going and do your best.”