UEL fashion guru rubs shoulders with Virgin boss Richard Branson

University of East London graduate turned aspiring fashion guru Ashley-Rae Tapping flew to South Africa to meet her business “idol” Sir Richard Branson.

The 23-year-old former journalism student won a competition to meet the Virgin Media boss for creating her own fashion label, Loud Culture, with her friend Abi Fashesin.

The Chingford-based entreprenur flew to the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg after getting involved with Virgin Media Pioneers, an online community of young businesspeople.

Ashley-Rae said: “It was amazing to meet Sir Richard. It gave me more drive because he’s one of my idols and just the impact he’s had on so many people is incredible.

“He tries to share his experience with everyone else. If it wasn’t for this innovative scheme I wouldn’t have been given this amazing opportunity.”

Since it was launched last June, the Loud Culture has been featured in More and Look magazines and their designs have been worn by the likes of X Factor contestant Misha B on the hit show.

She added: “We use our family and friends as model, my mum and Abi cut all the sample clothes and my aunt’s our quality controller.

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“Though we have less output it’s good to have that original rawness to it that you get without mass production, rather than making thousands of less interesting copies.

“Our website’s had over 80,000 hits now and we use Twitter to get in contact with stars and agents who wear our clothes and to get our name out there.”

Loud Culture is looking to open its own London store this year.

To find out more about UEL’s Centre of Excellence for Women Entrepreneurs, visit www.uel.ac.uk/cewe and to join the Virgin Media Pioneers community log on to www.virginmediapioneers.com.