A YOUNG woman who found a new zest for life after overcoming a serious injury is helping to put the North-east on the map as one of the UK’s leading digital clusters.
Rachel Powell works as the DigitalCity Business (DCB) “animateur” at its Stockton satellite – as well as running her own ethical textile company.
“Basically it is a fancy title for someone who makes things happen – it is about helping all of the creative businesses in Stockton reach their full potential,” she said.
“Stockton Council set up a creative steering group as it sees the creative sector as playing a key role in the regeneration of the area and they are really keen to support the local businesses.
“DigitalCity has held a number of diagnostics that are ongoing. During these meetings we review the companies and find ways of helping them overcome their barriers to growth. There are some amazing and inspirational creative businesses in Stockton. We simply help them to move forward by offering access to various DigitalCity Business products. DCB offers support, advice and practical help and we have access to some of the best mentors in the North-east. At the moment we are in the middle of our first business growth workshop in Stockton, including talks from Stockton ‘star turns’ such as Neil Stephenson at Onyx Group, Tony Campbell at Creative Glass and Andy Hatton from Global Anodes. There’s always lots going on.”
Rachel’s own story is one of triumph over adversity and one which set her on the road to following her dreams. She fell from a fourth floor balcony while on holiday in Spain – breaking her back.
She was in hospital for six months and had to learn to walk again. Surviving such a dramatic accident left her living for each day – and she decided to try her hand in the fashion industry.
After graduating from Cleveland College of Art and Design, Rachel, of Old Lackenby, near Eston, set up a business as an ethical textile specialist and is “on a journey around the world, exploring my passion for ethical textiles”.
She’s already represented the UK with an exhibition in France for the International Symposium on Natural Dyes and is making links globally via her work.
As well as making clothes “art you can wear” Rachel is an ethical fabrics matchmaker – working with the supply chain, agents, producers and manufacturers.
She sources particular materials for clients, and clients for specialist textiles - and is already working with people like Michelle Taylor of Tallulah Love lingerie.
“Being ethical or environmentally sound means different things to different people. It is just about allowing people to make informed decisions based on things like fair trade, how animals are kept, environmental issues etc.
“As I see it something bad happened in my life but something very special came out of it,” she said.
“Really I am an example of how a very traditional industry can use digital technology to move forward. I don’t think I would have followed this path if I hadn’t had the accident.”