Helen Barrett Bright Ideas: Laura’s clothing brand

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Laura, 33, from Manchester tells us about Careaux, the ethical clothing brand she launched with her sister

Careaux was inspired by our Nana, who was an incredible woman and dressmaker. My sister Rachel used to borrow my clothes, as all sisters do -but there was always something that she wanted to change. Either the top was too small, or the skirt was too small, or she loved the skirt style but wanted a different top style or vice versa. With my rib cage being a different size and shape because of CF, my clothes would always fit differently on me than on Rachel.Laura and Rachel

This brought to the forefront the contradiction that each and every one of us are different; different style, different size - but clothing doesn’t reflect this. Our Nana grew up in a time of tailoring and fitting every dress to each woman, with the perfect finish to every garment. This all laid the foundations for how Rachel came up with the idea for Careaux. As soon as she had the idea, she couldn’t wait to tell me!

I didn’t know anyone who had run a business and had no business or fashion experience, no funding and no network -I did not know where to start. But with determination and hard work, I did everything I could -working and saving to make it happen -and a lot of testing and development to bring Careaux to life.

I’m grateful that CF has made me a more resilient, dedicated and motivated person

I was diagnosed with CF when I was four months old, as I was having recurrent chest infections. I became unwell when I was about nine and my lung function dropped dramatically to about 30% and I never gained it back. I had another bout of illness when I was about 21, which resulted in having a PEG fitted and going on overnight oxygen. In 2018, I began the process to be put on the transplant list. I’m grateful that CF has made me a more resilient,Careaux dedicated and motivated person.

We wanted to create a brand that we were missing growing up -a brand that did not focus on the way women looked and if they looked a certain way, but a brand that celebrated the incredible women wearing the dresses -combining inclusivity, sustainability, innovation and positive social impact. We wanted to have #CareauxRoleModels of every disability, race, age, gender, orientation and background creating positive change globally. We are driven by increasing representation of underrepresented groups in the fashion industry and globally.

Careaux combines timeless silhouettes with a world-first innovation which is patent pending as the concept has not been done before. Each Careaux piece is offered in any size and made with a hidden zip around the waist -enabling the dress to separate into a top and a skirt. This means that every dress can have a different -or same -size top and bottom and you can mix and match the tops and the skirt to create different style, fabric and colour combinations.

I’m excited to enact positive change – in the fashion industry and the world

We found out about the awards on the Trust website. When I found out I’d won, I was extremely shocked, overwhelmed and so happy! It means the world toCareaux me to be chosen – I’m extremely grateful. The award will help us develop the collection from ideation to launch which we’ve been dreaming about for so long - from pattern creation, grading of the patterns, sourcing, iterations and samples.

My hopes and dreams are to grow Careaux and to continue to do what I can to create change in the world and to have a positive impact. I’m excited to be able to create change in the fashion industry and to be able to create a fully inclusive, diverse and accessible fashion industry and world.

To me, a life unlimited is where people with disabilities live in a world that is fully inclusive and accessible. Where we don’t have so many extra burdens and so many extra considerations to be able to live day-to-day.

You can check out Careaux's website here.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition which causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. It affects more than 10,800 people in the UK. One in 25 of us carries the faulty gene that causes it, usually without knowing. 

The Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Awards are available for anyone with CF over the age of 18 to help support your dream career or hobby. Whatever you need to make your lightbulb moment a reality, a Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Award can help you on your way.

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