Former Shrewsbury Colleges Group student and well-known dress designer Hayley J has hand-made 100 face coverings to help students to feel safer on their return to College.

Hayley J sitting in front of sewing machine with face masks

 Hayley Jay, known as Hayley J, ran her own bridal and couture business in Shrewsbury for 32 years. Two years ago she became the Business Specialist at Furrows and is currently furloughed.

Far from resting on her laurels, Hayley, from Newport, has bought back some volunteer machinists, has armed herself with plenty of material from a local supplier, researched the best way to make non-medical facemasks and set to it!

Hayley, studied on the Foundation Art course at the College and was one of the first students to study at the new art block at the London Road campus when it opened in 1980.

After she completed a four year BA Hons Fashion Degree at the University of Central Lancashire and spent a year in London before opening her own shop.

“I believe in giving back and so have been giving my time to making as many face coverings as I can to help those who need them during the pandemic,” said Hayley.

“I spent a while researching the best methods and my design uses 100% cotton, they’re double lined, with a filter pocket for a tissue and a metal section to press down onto your nose so you wear glasses without them steaming up! I’m using round elastic for extra comfort.

“They are for sale to anyone but I have supplied them to the Lingen Davies charity and sent many to the United Arab Emirates. I’ve been going to bed at 11pm and getting up at 4am, I’ve never worked so hard!”

Hayley heard that the College could use some face coverings for students as they start to return to College as part of the wider opening from this week.

“I employed students from Shrewsbury Colleges Group when I was starting my business and have always kept really strong links. I actually took some face coverings to my former tutor Gudrun Kyle and her husband last week.

“Without the College, I wouldn’t have had a career. It was down to the inspiration of my marvellous tutor, who I’m still in touch with and the guidance I was given which gave me the confidence to go on and get a degree. Since then I have been Designer of the Year for Brides Magazine and established the Fashion Association of Britain (FAB), part of the independent retail association. I’ve worked on TV and films, dressed celebrities.

“My whole career is thanks to the College, not just what I learnt fashion-wise, but also the business side of things and how to make a living from doing what you love. I’m eternally grateful.”

Catherine Armstrong, Group Vice Principal, said: “The College is involved with Hayley in her current role as Business Specialist at Furrows and via the Chamber of Commerce. It’s heartwarming that as a former student, Hayley still holds the College and what her time here helped her to achieve in such high regard.

“We were delighted that Hayley was able to supply us with the face coverings which are available for our students if they would like on their return to College.”

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