Football had always been the dream. I played from the age of 10 for Leeds United and went pro at 17, but ended up losing the love for the game when it started to feel more like a job. Faced with the pressures of needing to play for a contract, I was ready to try my hand at something new. I began exploring another passion of mine – drawing, design and product.
I felt lost for a long time. I think I was really struggling with coming to terms with the fact that the career I had always worked towards was no longer happening. Figuring out my path wasn't easy. After a tough time, I finished an art foundation degree at Loughborough University and gained a spot at London College of Fashion.
Living in London lasted all of two weeks. Leaving Leeds was more of a shock than I expected money wise, so I moved home. I worked in retail for nearly three years at Size. Looking back, this was incredibly valuable as it widened the breadth of my knowledge on the industry. I then took a stab at education for a third time and did a BA honours.
My first real plunge into the fashion world was when I finally moved back to London. I started working for a small company called House Of Billiam which predominantly made hoodies out of suit fabrics. I started seeing my designs go into places like Liberty and Dover Street, and it finally felt like things were starting to fall into place.
I learned a lot in those few years. Working within a small team meant I was incredibly hands on. From learning about patterns, cutting, sourcing and fabrications to picking up the business side of things too, I learned how to actually operate a small brand.
My life changed when I met A$AP Rocky. He came into the House Of Billiam studio one day and was taken with a rail of pieces I had created. He loved my leather sleeve sweater – his fans will know this became a staple in his UK tour wardrobe for a while. This support from him literally funded the business at the time.