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Drapers 30 Under 30 2018: Genevieve Sweeney, knitwear designer

Age: 29 

What she’s learnt: “Research, network and learn. Building a network of peers and mentors is so important.”

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After working at some of fashion’s biggest names, including Burberry and Hugo Boss, Genevieve Sweeney began building her eponymous knitwear brand in 2014. Her holidays were spent scouring the UK for old knitting machines she could restore, as well as knocking on the doors of potential manufacturers. She finally tapped into a network of skilled knitters in the Scottish Borders who were willing to take a risk on an up-and-coming designer.

The brand formally launched in September 2015 and, within just 12 months, won high-profile stockists including Fortnum & Mason. Sweeney is determined to write a new chapter for the British knitwear industry, using skills left languishing when many retailers began to move production offshore. Thorough research, curiosity and good advice from other female entrepreneurs have all helped her to build her brand.

“The biggest lesson I have learnt is to ask questions,” she says. “When I worked in different countries and for different brands, I would always ask to study their processes and technical machinery, which helped me grow.”

Career path

2015 Founder and managing director/founder, Genevieve Sweeney Ltd

2014 Senior knitwear and jersey developer, Lyle & Scott

2014 Children’s product developer, Burberry

2012 Creative knitwear developer, Hugo Boss 

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