Etsy award nomination for aspiring New Longton fashion designer

Laura Jeffers of New Longton, wearing one of her handmade headwraps
Laura Jeffers of New Longton, wearing one of her handmade headwraps
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A fashionista from New Longton is one of only 165 people in the world shortlisted for a prestigious design award.

Twenty-five-year-old Laura Jeffers, who owns Etsy shop AsikarabyLauraJane, specialises in African inspired clothing and accessories after being inspired by her Zimbabwean friend.

Laura's 'fit and flare' skirt

Laura's 'fit and flare' skirt

She said she is “blown away” after her entry to the Etsy competition - a handmade ‘fit and flare’ skirt - beat off competition from across the world to make it onto the shortlist for the ‘signature style’ category.

She said: “It’s very surreal, Etsy’s massive, so this is crazy.”

Laura started her online business while studying a fashion design degree at UClan.

She said: “I started it while I was doing an unpaid placement to make a bit of extra money and to test the waters with my designs. To my surprise it was a success.

Some examples of Laura's work

Some examples of Laura's work

After graduating I needed to get a job, but the bold African prints style I like didn’t seem to translate well into what mainstream designers were looking for. I was quite disheartened, but my Dad said ‘if you can’t find a job, make one’, and the Etsy shop became by job.”

The former Penwortham Girls’ High School pupil now buys in fabric from all over the world, before making every item herself in a workshop at her parent’s home.

She has been helped by the Princes Trust and Boost Business Lancashire with the administration side of her business and is now selling her wares far and wide. Signature pieces include headwraps and bow ties.

She said the skirt design entered into the competition was half-fitted and half-flared, designed to flatter any figure and empower women to feel beautiful.

Laura's headwrap and bowtie designs

Laura's headwrap and bowtie designs

Laura's work has been heavily inspired by her faith, with an extract of Psalm 139, 'You are fearfully and wonderfully made', helping direct her creations.

The Etsy competition

Sellers on online marketplace Etsy were encouraged to submit their application for a chance to win $15,000 USD, a trophy, and a bundle of marketing and business prizes.

An example of Laura's work

An example of Laura's work

Entrants were whittled down to a shortlist of 165 and now an expert panel of judges including interior designer Sophie Robinson, writer and actor Dan Levy, style expert Joe Zee, lifestyle writer and photographer Garance Doré, décor expert Holly Becker, and fashion designer Anavila Misra, will name one seller the Etsy Design Award Grand Prize Winner while five others will be named the winners in each featured category.

Winners will be announced in September.

Laura's African-inspired head wraps

Laura's African-inspired head wraps