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‘Oxford Summer School taught me how to do more’

Working in the family business my mother Vicki started in 1985, I have often felt as though I was trapped in a bubble.

I knew what I knew, but I didn’t have a great overview of general retailing and I didn’t have the tools, I thought, with which to challenge myself. All that changed last August when I attended the famous week-long Oxford Summer School, which is run by Bira, the Fashion Association of Britain’s parent organisation.

I was one of the few indies among the 250 delegates. I had feelings of trepidation when I arrived on the Saturday, but by the time we departed on the following Saturday, I was buzzing and quite emotional.

I developed a strong bond with the seven others in my working group.

The course is intensive, the exercises are challenging and the guest speakers are inspirational.

It is an amazing environment in which to learn about your strengths and weaknesses.

I’ve realised I can do a lot more in our business than I was doing - I just had to discover what those important areas are. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and I urge other forward-looking independents to attend this brilliant school in August this year.

  • Melissa Wheeler, Manager of womenswear indie Ambiance of Colchester and a member of the Fashion Association of Britain (FAB)

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