This week I travelled to Blackburn to meet with fashion-designer and pioneer of affordable, social design, Wayne Hemingway. Having grown-up in Blackburn, Wayne is a passionate champion of the town and a great inspirational figure for the next generation of young entrepreneurs. 

I arrived in Blackburn just in time to hear Wayne deliver a powerful presentation to an auditorium full of young people studying business at the local college. He explained how his journey to success began in 1982 when he and his childhood sweeheart, now wife, Gerardine set-up a market stall selling up-cycled fashion at Camden Market. Like many of the young traders at Teenage Markets, Wayne and Gerardine decided to turn their passion into a business and were soon making big profits from their self-styled designs. Before long, they had grown their market stall into the iconic fashion label Red or Dead and had 16 shops around the country. I could see the eyes of all the young entrepreneurs in the room light up as Wayne explained how he and Gerardine eventually sold the company in a multi-million pound deal.

wayne1After revolutionising the fashion industry, Wayne and Gerardine decided to turn their attentions to tackling some of the toughest challenges facing society. They created House of Hemingway to solve these problems by drawing on their principles of good design and have since worked on landscape planning, housing regeneration, and national events – all with a community-focused conscience. It is his commitment to trying improve the things that matter in life that now brings Wayne back to the town which he says is in his “blood and soul”, with the launch of the National Festival of Making in Blackburn in October 2016. Like my hometown of Stockport, Blackburn was one of the first industrialised towns in the world and has a proud history of textiles manufacturing. The Festival of Making will celebrate this heritage and highlight how Blackburn is still leading the way, with 25% of the local population still working in manufacturing. The Festival of Making will also celebrate the wealth of talented creatives and makers in the town from major players like Graham & Brown and Crown Paints to individual crafters.

38529784.jpg-pwrt3Wayne finished his talk at the college by passing on words of advice to anyone just starting out in business. He shared with us how he felt that the most important qualities for any successful entrepreneur were passion, determination and hard-work. If you decide to be bold and take risks then good things will no doubt happen. Wayne and Gerardine’s story of success is testament to this philosophy and is one we should all aspire to, for it’s no surprise that fortune favours the brave.

Joe Barratt
Co-Founder, The Teenage Market
If you would like to contact Joe about setting up a Teenage Market in your town or city please email him at