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The business game: from students to entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial activity is intrinsically related to creatives’ work. It’s a fact. But what when fashion students become experts who become entrepreneurs? We put the question to some Istituto Marangoni London alumni who have established their brands and are taking their businesses to new heights.

Of course, there was a shift in their routines and creative endeavours, as stated by the three graduates invited to join the IM Inspired Entrepreneurship Alumni Talk organised by Istituto Marangoni’s London campus.

For our third Alumni Panel this year, the focus was on entrepreneurship, as more and more highly talented students are launching incredible careers by creating their labels after graduation.

This is why many young designers who dream of establishing their own fashion house one day had plenty of questions for Sofia Bianchi, who finished her BA in Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni London in 2020 and promptly founded her Soubi Studios. Next to speak was Rhea Karo, who earned a Master’s in Fashion & Luxury Brand Management in 2017. Just over two years later, she established Social Amour, a London-based boutique social media and marketing agency, to help brands of all sizes find their creative voice. Last but not least to share some genuine insight was Eddie Gavriilidis, a Fashion Design graduate at the helm of his The Sampling Studio since 2013.

We sat down with them and learned that they don’t only drive innovation trends in products and business models, but they mostly solve problems while designing artefacts or creating services. Read about the stories behind these leading examples of how creatives can exist beyond the boxes and develop the entrepreneurs’ skills needed in the current worldwide, informational and networked market environment.

 

Istituto Marangoni alumna Sofia Bianchi’s Soubi Studios is a London-based sustainable brand specialising in body wear and sporty intimates

“Five per cent of what I do is designing, the rest is problem-solving,” – alumna Sofia Bianchi, founder of Soubi Studios

So said Sofia Bianchi when asked about her London-based Soubi Studios, an eco-friendly brand and studio creating elevated skin-wear since 2021. An Argentinian-Italian multidisciplinary designer born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sofia Bianchi designs contemporary, versatile and eclectic pieces. All of Soubi Studios’ fabrics are made of recycled nylon and plant-based products such as modal and are manufactured locally by specialists in the field. 

Istituto Marangoni alumna Sofia Bianchi talking about her strategies when designing her business

“Elasticity, movement and organic materials represent my work,” Sofia Bianchi stated. ”Everything I design is a reflection of the body. To allow elasticity, I create garments that adapt to the body creating ease of movement and a second-skin feel. The stretchiness of the materials shapes the body, allowing our natural shape to stand out; they mould and adapt to the volume inside. That’s where the relationship between body and garments comes from; our bodies are resistant and elastic, just like my pieces.”

Sofia Bianchi discussing how she got started in fashion

“I wanted to create a place where I could be free to express myself, create my own world” – alumna Sofia Bianchi, founder of Soubi Studios

Inspired by many artistic disciplines, especially dance and the body itself, Sofia Bianchi’s primary focus has always been to explore the relationship between skin and textiles, body and clothing. “Since I was a kid, I was always attracted and connected to art, music, fashion and dance,” she pointed out. “I grew up completely enamoured with fashion, especially with my mom’s wardrobe. In my spare time, I used to be the girl that could spend hours drawing, dressing up, writing, playing the guitar, creating my choreographies.”

Istituto Marangoni Fashion Design alumna Sofia Bianchi

Istituto Marangoni Fashion Design alumna Sofia Bianchi

What about her path? When studying Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni, Sofia Bianchi had the incredible opportunity to live in three of the world’s most impactful cities for the fashion industry: Milan, Paris and London. “I started Law, but after two years, I realised it wasn’t for me,” she continued. “Then, I came to London for a Fashion Design course, and that experience awakened my creative side and made me understand that Fashion Design is more than creating a garment. Fashion is about creating a story. I was convinced that this was what I wanted to pursue, so, in 2017, I moved to Milan, Italy, to start a BA in Fashion Design; this is when my journey began.”

Creations by Istituto Marangoni Fashion Design alumna Sofia Bianchi's Soubi Studios, an eco-friendly brand and studio creating elevated skin-wear in London

Look by Istituto Marangoni Fashion Design alumna Sofia Bianchi's Soubi Studios, an eco-friendly brand and studio creating elevated skin-wear in London

 

Master’s graduate in Fashion & Luxury Brand Management Rhea Karo about her London-based boutique social media and marketing agency Social Amour

Rhea Karo, Master’s graduate in Fashion & Luxury Brand Management from Istituto Marangoni London

Rhea Karo, Master’s graduate in Fashion & Luxury Brand Management from Istituto Marangoni London 

During her one-year Master’s in Fashion & Luxury Brand Management at Istituto Marangoni in London, alumna Rhea Karo developed and presented industry-led projects for Fratelli Rossetti and Vivienne Westwood, created brand audits and recommended new marketing strategies. She later gained experience at companies such as Ted Baker, Selfridges, Luxottica and House of CB, becoming a marketing specialist who established her agency, Social Amour.

Istituto Marangoni alumna Rhea Karo talking about the business philosophy behind Social Amour, her London-based boutique social media and marketing agency

Social Amour is a London-based boutique social media and marketing agency. They are big on all things communication and marketing and pride themselves in their social abilities – both online and offline. Both small businesses and large corporates have put their trust in them to manage and create existing and engaging campaigns. Social Amour’s clients range from a variety of industries in fashion, hospitality, art and food & beverage. Whether it’s a photoshoot, videography, graphic design, or capturing live content, Rhea Karo and her team can take care of it for their brands.

Alumna Rhea Karo in conversation with Istituto Marangoni London students 

 

Eddie Gavriilidis’ The Sampling Studio helps young brands and established designers manufacture their collections and find their voice through today’s mediums 

“Creating a business plan as a fashion designer is like putting your dreams out there and destroying them one by one” – alumnus Eddie Gavriilidis, founder of The Sampling Studio

A Greek-born fashion designer living between London, Tel Aviv and Athens, Eddie Gavriliidis said so when asked to talk us through the process of creating a business. After studying at Istituto Marangoni, he gained experience with Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen. His work has also been featured in Vogue, Marie Claire, The Times, E Entertainment, and shortlisted for a Global Fashion Award.

Eddie Gavriliidis

Istituto Marangoni alumnus Eddie Gavriliidis

Eddie Gavriliidis had the opportunity to work for the most prominent brands of London Fashion Week and industry icons such as Lady Gaga, Anna Wintour and the Kardashians before he set up The Sampling Studio, a creative and manufacturing boutique studio in London.


Istituto Marangoni alumnus Eddie Gavriliidis
talking about his experiences when entering the fashion industry

Located in Brick Lane, in the heart of fashionable East London, The Sampling Studio is a London-based sampling unit. Managed by experienced fashion designers, they provide a service covering first patterns, toiles, alterations and samples.

With his studio, Eddie Gavriliidis launched a concept that helps young brands and established designers manufacture their collections and find their voice through today’s mediums. “For emerging brands, we know that launching a brand can be daunting,” Gavriliidis wrote in The Sampling Studio’s manifesto. “And we are here to help with our knowledge of fabrics, pattern cutting, grading, garment production, wholesale outlets and much more.”

Eddie's designs as seen on celebrities

Eddie Gavriilidis’ The Sampling Studio helps young brands and established designers manufacture their collections

“Unlike many other sampling units, we work with you to your budget and put the quality of your garments first,” Gavriliidis added. “With over 50 years of combined experience, we have the best professional sample machinists and pattern cutters. They have made samples for fashion houses including Acne Studios, Ralph & Russo, Tom Ford, Mary Katrantzou, Alexander McQueen, London College of Fashion, and Fiorucci.”

 

 

Ioanna Kefalogianni
Senior Career Service and Industry Relationship Specialist, London 
School
LONDON
Course
Programme
undergraduate-BA (Hons) Degrees · 3-Year courses
postgraduate-Master's Degrees • Master's Courses
postgraduate-Master's Degrees • Master's Courses