Textile Design BA graduate and Nettle Revolution founder wins the Theo Paphitis, Small Business Sunday Awards

22 May 2024

SBS Awards
SBS Awards
Type: Text
Category: Our graduates

In an inspiring event earlier this year, Jane Gray, Founder and Coach of health and wellbeing company, Nettle Revolution, was honoured with the Theo Paphitis #SBS (Small Business Sunday) Awards. We had the opportunity to chat with Jane about her experience as a mature student on Textile Design BA and how it shaped her success in the industry.

The award was presented by Theo Paphitis, a renowned entrepreneur and former Dragon on the BBC series ‘Dragons’ Den.’ Theo’s initiative to support small businesses across the UK offers them a platform to gain visibility and grow, and the ceremony provided Jane with an invaluable opportunity to briefly share her business story and present Theo Paphitis with one of her hand-woven stinging nettle scarves.

This recognition came as a significant milestone for Jane’s health initiative, Nettle Revolution, which is a cornerstone of her business dedicated to spreading mindfulness and enhancing personal wellbeing whilst having a positive impact locally and globally – all by taking the 'sting' out of nettles!

Jane expressed her delight, stating, “Winning the Theo Paphitis #SBS Award is like the cherry on the cake; a dream come true.” 

About Nettle Revolution

Nettle Revolution is an initiative founded by Jane Gray with the aim to foster personal wellbeing through workshops, by raising awareness of the benefits of harvesting the humble yet powerful nettle and exploring the myriad ways we can use nature to connect and heal not only ourselves but also the planet. 

During her interview, Jane reflected on her transformative experience as a mature student at Falmouth University, where she pursued her passion for textile design. 

How was your experience studying at Falmouth University? 

My experience studying at Falmouth as a mature student was truly transitional, though its full value only became apparent upon reflection. It provided me with a profound opportunity to confront my grief and the challenges I had faced prior to enrolling, following the sudden loss of a dear friend. 

Through the course's innovative use of up-to-date technology and forward-thinking methodologies, I discovered not only solutions but also newfound confidence to confront the future. Falmouth equipped me with the tools and perspectives needed to navigate what lay ahead, making it an invaluable chapter in my journey of personal growth and resilience. It marked a new beginning, allowing me to redefine my path and develop a plan for the next phase of my journey. 

Embarking on my first university experience was a significant milestone, especially as the first in my family to pursue a degree. 

Despite my advancing years, I viewed this journey as an opportunity rather than a barrier, recognising the importance of mental agility and lifelong learning.

As the saying goes, 'If you don't use it, you lose it,' and I was determined to keep my mind active and engaged. Engaging with the perspectives and experiences of younger peers proved to be invigorating, rejuvenating my spirit and reminding me that age is just a number. It was a transformative experience that made me feel remarkably youthful and alive. 

In what ways did the course at Falmouth help you develop professional and practical skills for your industry? 

Learning the intricate art of weaving was a dream fulfilled for me, one that had been nurtured through countless visits to the University, where I often found myself captivated by the looms. When the opportunity finally arose, I embraced it wholeheartedly, finding deep satisfaction in the design process, the meticulous dressing of the loom, and the rhythmic weaving itself. 

Being a nature enthusiast, I naturally gravitated towards working with natural fibres, finding joy in the connection with the earth's materials - especially the nettle. 

What advice would you offer to current students aspiring to enter the industry? 

Embrace Creativity: The field of textile design thrives on innovation and creativity. Allow yourself the freedom to explore new ideas, experiment with different techniques, and push the boundaries of traditional design. The world is changing fast and so are the opportunities. Run with it, it is an exciting time. 

Develop Technical Skills: Invest time in honing your technical skills;’ whether it's mastering weaving techniques, understanding textile structures, or learning about sustainable production methods. 

Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated with the latest trends, technologies, and developments in the textile industry. Attend workshops, seminars, and exhibitions to stay informed and inspired. To make use of the library and all the latest publications, they literally blew my mind! 

Network: Build meaningful connections within the industry by attending networking events, joining professional associations, and engaging with fellow designers and professionals. 

Be Resilient: The journey to success in the textile industry may have its challenges. Stay resilient in the face of setbacks, learn from failures, and keep pushing forward with determination and passion for your craft. Believe in YOURSELF. 

Embrace Sustainability: With growing awareness of environmental issues, there's a rising demand for sustainable practices in textile design. Incorporate eco-friendly materials and production methods into your work to align with market trends and contribute positively to the planet. Seek new ways of working and new materials to work with, apply yourself. 

Showcase Your Work: Build a strong portfolio showcasing your best designs and projects. Whether it's through an online portfolio, social media platforms, or industry exhibitions, make sure your work is visible and speaks to your unique style and vision. 

Seek Mentorship: Don't hesitate to seek guidance and mentorship from experienced professionals in the field. Learning from their insights and experiences can provide valuable guidance as you navigate your own career path. 

Discover more about Jane’s inspiring work by visiting her website at www.nettlerevolution.co.uk or by following her on Instagram @jane.gray.nettle.weaver, X/Twitter @KNOTtheEND and LinkedIn Jane Gray. 

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