| Living North



Sian Gabbidon
Leeds lass Sian Gabbidon rose to prominence last year when she won The Apprentice 2018 with her idea for a swimwear business. Having just launched her new SS19 collection, we talk to Sian about her time on the show, her pop-up and plans for the future

What made you first decide to go on The Apprentice?

I’m a massive fan of the show. I watch it religiously and every year I watched it I always thought ‘where do they find these people?’ I remember thinking ‘To be fair, I’m quite a good candidate. I’ve got a business, I’m quite savvy – I’ll give it a go and see where I get with it’, so I applied and here we are.  

How would you describe your experience?

It was a lot harder than I expected and I think it’s easy for viewers to sit back and judge the contestants like I did so for many years. You’ve got a very tight time frame in which to do the tasks and you do miss home, so there’s a lot going on in the background that people don’t realise. 

On the show, something that came across was that you're a proud Leeds lass…

Definitely. I grew up in Leeds, I went to high school and college here and eventually studied Fashion Design with Marketing at Huddersfield University. I also chose to base my headquarters in Leeds city centre, and although the brand is online, I stuck to my roots in terms of my physical location. It’s also a smart move because it’s cheap.

What’s it like working with Alan Sugar as your business partner?

It’s really good. We’ve got a great relationship – we speak a lot, he has a lot of input and is everything I would have expected him to be. We had a great launch at the start of March, where the new SS19 collection dropped, with lots of celebrities and well-known faces showing up and creating a real buzz about the business. 

What inspired you to launch a swimwear brand?

I’ve always struggled with swimwear, especially when I was a student. I’d go and look on the high street and end up buying three different bikinis because the top of one would fit but the bottoms wouldn’t. The offering on swimwear was pretty poor and pool parties are such a big trend at the moment. People want to buy stuff they can’t get anywhere else and that’s where the idea stemmed from. I started looking at different fabrics and designing my own prints, and it all just grew from there. 

You’re USP is your reversible and multiway piece, which offer two outfits in one. Where did you get the idea for that?

That was inspired by my own experience of going to pool parties which were usually day and night events. I went to one party where I had only a bikini and a cover up (which I hadn’t planned on wearing anyway) with no change of clothes with me and I started to think about ways to make bikinis more reusable. That’s when the idea for reversible and multiway bikinis which you can style and make your own came to me.

Which do you like more: design or marketing?

Design every time. I love designing and when I was at uni, that’s what I enjoyed doing the most. I get my inspiration from all over the place, from whatever is going on around me and I also tend to design things that I would wear. We’ve just launched our new SS19 collection that’s bursting with bright colours, and have just finished designing our next range, which takes into account different styles and tastes, offering support and more modest designs. It’s got something for everyone and that’s really exciting.

Tell me a bit about the pop-up at the end of this month.

The pop-up is going to be amazing, I can’t wait! It’s on the 29th, 30th and 31st March in Trinity in Leeds and on the Saturday we’re going to have the cast of The Apprentice 2018 down to do a meet and greet from 11am-12pm. Alongside that, we’re going to have dancers modelling our bikinis, a DJ, hair and makeup, and giveaways. 

What are your plans for the future?

Lots. There are lots of things planned and since the end of the show, I’ve had opportunities I never would have imagined cropping up, like partnerships with different brands. Everything’s under wraps at the minute but watch this space because there’s so much going on.

Where’s you favourite place to go in Leeds?

Food-wise, and if I was going out for a couple of drinks, I’d say Rum & Reason – they do delicious Caribbean food and it’s a really good vibe.



Published in: March 2019

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