Ashleigh Rodda

BA Fashion

After completing her degree in 2011, Ashleigh worked as a hosiery designer before coming up with a business idea to produce a bariatric training suit: a realistic, weighted suit that mimics the shape, proportions, movement and weight distribution of a bariatric, or overweight, person. The suits are used as a training aid for medical staff when learning how to treat bariatric patients, giving users first-hand experience of the mobility issues faced by an overweight person.

Using her design and tailoring skills, Ashleigh set about making prototype suits and was successful in gaining the worldwide design rights. She started selling suits via her own website and found there is a widespread market for her product. “I’ve even had enquiries from the US as there’s no equivalent on the market.”

When she needed advice on growing her business, Bariatric Training Suits Ltd, Ashleigh thought of Spark. “It was so helpful to have Spark there for me, even after I’d graduated,” she said. “Their support is invaluable and it’s clear that they believe in me.” On Spark’s advice Ashleigh entered, and won, the Trading category of the 2013 Spark business plan competition. “I’m using the £2,000 prize money to help with the marketing and promotion of my business to help spread the word,” she said.