Start-up success for Newcastle entrepreneur

A graphic designer who launched her own business against all odds is hoping to win an award for her entrepreneurialism

Emma Reilly
Emma Reilly

A graphic designer who launched her own business against all odds is hoping to win an award for her entrepreneurialism.

Two years ago, Emma Reilly, 32, suffered from a lack of confidence, low self-esteem and anxiety disorder. To make matters worse, she was then diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.

Her turnaround was triggered by the death of her brother-in-law who died of cancer at just 32.

“I’d always wanted my own business because, in reality, with the problems I’d had I knew it was my only option. But before my brother-in-law died, I thought ‘I’ll do it some day’.

“It was only after watching my sister nurse him and him eventually passing away that I got the wake-up call that tomorrow might never come and I’d better get on and do it,” said Reilly, of Chapel House, Newcastle.

Reilly got a place on the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme, secured start-up funding and began trading as a freelance designer before launching her urban fashion label, Brave & The Bold Apparel.

She went on to win the North East Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards for Enterprise which has transformed her life. She is also a young ambassador for the Trust.

Reilly is now hoping to wow judges in The Journal’s If We Can You Can Challenge, run by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

The annual challenge is open to all start-ups and early stage enterprises with a prize of up to £17,000 worth of investment, mentoring and practical help from sponsors Yorkshire Bank, Ward Hadaway, Onyx Group, PwC and Rivers Capital.

Reilly has created five T-shirt designs and will launch five more.

“The designs are informed by my own experience; they seem to strike a chord with people,” said Reilly, who showed off her collection at Newcastle Fashion Week.

“Where I am now is so different from a couple of years ago. I was on benefits before I started my business and I’m not any more.”

Reilly added: “Entering If We Can You Can is a sign of how far I’ve come. One of the things I’ve learned since starting my business is the importance of networking, so I would love to get further in the competition to meet more people.”

Reilly’s designs are to be retailed in the Prince’s Trust’s shop in London.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer