Caroline Stillman graduated from DMU in July 2015 with a degree in Footwear Design and an ambition to start her own luxury shoe brand Carobella. After struggling most of her life finding fashionable shoes to fit, Caroline was inspired to start a luxury brand which specialises in larger shoe sizes for women, designing gorgeous and fashionable shoes that she wouldn’t usually be able to purchase or wear.
Standing at 6ft4 without any heels and with a shoe size of 10 or 11 as a result of an inherited chromosomal disorder. Caroline has had to rebuild her confidence after being bullied throughout her time at school.
“Being bullied at school left me very unconfident and took me awhile to get my confidence back but after talking to lots of different people who have Marfan syndrome with similar problems, it’s helped me to accept myself and helped me a lot with my confidence”.
Caroline received lots of support with her idea throughout her Footwear Design course at DMU, especially from her bespoke footwear and biomechanics teachers. “The university and the people who came in to help with the course were extremely helpful with my idea of making shoes for tall girls and people with Marfan syndrome. I actually designed a shoe on the course that was made for someone with Marfan syndrome. I was given it at random which was really quite a coincidence since I also have Marfan syndrome.”
Six months after graduating from the University, Caroline applied for the Graduate Champions Enterprise Scheme. The 3 week scheme provides recent graduates with the essential knowledge and inspiration needed to start their own business. After successfully securing her place on the scheme, Caroline learned about the foundations of running her Carobella Boutique and was awarded with £500 towards her idea for completing the program. Caroline explains how helpful the 3 week scheme was with moving forward with her idea.
“The teacher on my business course was also amazingly helpful and gave me loads of good tips for starting my business and she was initially the one who helped me to move forward with my idea as she was always so excited and passionate about it when I spoke with her and got her advice.”
Using the knowledge gained from the scheme and her skills developed on her course, Caroline will be launching her luxury shoe brand later this year. She offered the following advice for any other DMU students or graduates looking to start their own business. “My main tip would be to follow your dreams and pursue your passions no matter what anyone else thinks or what anyone else tells you!“
To find out more and keep up to date with the progress of Carobella, head over to the Carobella Facebook Page.