How working with a University made all the difference for 'Sooz' Chirino
Started by Susan ‘Sooz’ Chirino, Sansooz is a fashion apparel company keen to help the fashion conscious become more safety conscious, without having to compromise on style.
The Business Challenge
Sansooz creates design-led reflective fashionable outdoor clothing and accessories for adults and particularly children. These will be seen normally during the day as part of the fashion garment design and then transform into highly reflective goods/garments upon darkness or poor visibility when a light source is applied i.e. car headlights. In essence, keeping the wearer fashionable, stylish and visible; giving a driver an extra vital few seconds to swerve or break…potentially saving a life.
With a background in textiles, Sooz knew the idea was feasible but needed to find out the best way to commercially incorporate the high visibility elements into clothing and, at the same time, create a designer collection that would appeal to her market.
Sooz originally contacted Business Gateway in Aberdeen City who, on hearing about her specific research and development needs, put Sooz in touch with Interface – The knowledge connection for business, knowing that they would be able to search out the best academic expertise from across Scotland.
After a comprehensive search, Interface introduced Sooz to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at University of Dundee.
As well as introducing Sooz to the University of Dundee, Interface was able to support her to access a £5000 Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.
Through her work with the university, Sooz has been able to carry out research on her three main development areas; investigating the best way of incorporating high visibility elements into textiles, ensuring that these textiles remain waterproof and windproof, and creating designs that will appeal to her audience. With great initial feedback on this research and development, Sooz is confident that she will have her e-Commerce (online) collection ready for release in the near future. Having had the idea in development for the last few years, Sooz is excited that her idea is finally becoming a professionally executed reality.
‘Every so often we would hear on the news of a pedestrian being knocked down at night and injured or killed with darkness and poor visibility often being among the contributing factors. This led to the light bulb moment – if we could make reflective coats and other clothing items fashionable and stylish, then people would be more likely to wear them and they would be more visible at night.
I’ve been working away at my kitchen table for years making various age appropriate samples that I knew could work but never had access to facilities to make them into commercial fabrics. Without Interface I wouldn’t have been able to get to a stage where I now have fashionable reflective fabric prototype(s) to test with focus groups.’
Having already been listed in The Pitch Competition top 100 national business start-ups within the UK, Sansooz are set to revolutionise the way we see high fashion garments.