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If you’ve been to TUMO Studios lately, you’ve heard talk of visas, paperwork, and the United Kingdom fill the air. Students are preparing to travel across a continent for part two of a textile design and entrepreneurship atelier being conducted in partnership with Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). The partnership is funded by the British Council’s Creative Spark initiative.

Together, Mia Sylvia, owner of an ethical line of bridal wear, and William Tate, Business Innovation Manager at NUA, have already led TUMO Studios students through part one of the experience in Yerevan. During their ten-day atelier, students sourced inspiration from their surroundings, drew patterns, learned about natural dyes, and developed color schemes to create original textile designs. During the first few days, the pair was joined by Kate Farley, manager of fashion and textile design courses at NUA, to kick off the atelier.

Part two starts in May, when six students will travel to Norwich to produce their textiles, create textile-based products, and set up a pop-up shop to sell them.

“One of the objectives of the atelier is to combine a creative education with an enterprise education. The two things come together,” explained William. “It’s not ‘I’m creating products, now how do I sell them?’ It’s ‘I’m creating products to sell.’” So, students must create user-centric designs and consider the customer and marketing from the second pen touches paper, all the way through to when it’s on a shelf and about to be sold,” explained William.

Working in tandem — Mia teaching textile design and William teaching business development — they began the atelier with visits to museums such as the History Museum of Armenia and the Megerian Carpet gallery.

“I focused on how to take influences from around the world and everyday life — like artifacts in a museum or a top in a store — and extract the feelings and emotions that they elicit,” said Mia. “We worked on how to personalize what stands out and appeals to you and then use that inspiration to create products that can be sold.”

She introduced students to an important part of her own creative process — mind mapping. It begins with collecting ten images throughout a day and then making four collages inspired by them — each with their own distinct visuals, colors, patterns, and emotions. In this way, mind mappers make connections between different elements in their surroundings and prepare to create something new.

Mia and William were thrilled to be in Armenia for the first time sharing their passion for creative industries. Mia, who designs eco-conscious bridalwear with repurposed textiles and sustainable pigments, is inspired by the environment. Her goal is to run an environmentally sustainable business and help others create designs and products that reflect their values. William, who has a background in musical engineering and television, relishes his role running incubators at NUA. By fostering business opportunities at a creative university, he helps people do what they love for a living.

Similarly, it will be the first time in the United Kingdom for all of our students. They’ll travel to Norwich to produce their textiles and create textile-based products to be sold in a week-long pop-up shop. Cross-cultural exchange — between local and visiting students — and relationship building — between TUMO Studios and UK based retailers — are also objectives of the trip.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is create proper supply relationships with retailers and traders in the UK so that designs and products by TUMO Studios have a new outlet. From a financial standpoint, that’s how Tumo Studios succeeds — when it’s selling designs created within those walls,” said William, enthusiastically.