'Stressed' woman made major change when she realised what was missing

Bethan felt 'something was missing' in her life
-Credit: (Image: Supplied)

A woman had to make a change after becoming stressed at work.

Bethan Flanagan McCormick, 31, from Everton, always had an artistic mind and was keen to pursue her passion at university. However, she came close to giving it all up.

Bethan said: “I went to Manchester Metropolitan University on the Fine Art course. First year was quite difficult for me and I nearly dropped out but I ended up coming through and got a first.

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“When I came back to Liverpool, I found it quite difficult to keep that momentum of creativity going and fell into office jobs.

“I ended up so stressed. I was trying so hard to fit into this box of having a nine to five job and follow what everyone else was doing.

“It wasn’t until furlough when I realised I was missing something in my life - that was creativity.”

Bethan created her own fashion brand creating stunning customised outfits. She uses both her own ideas and requests for customers to decorate t-shirts, jackets and jeans with personalised messages, Taylor Swift lyrics and comic book artwork.

A major milestone came when Bethan set up her first physical store at the Red Brick Market in the Baltic Triangle in 2022. While it was exciting to have a permanent physical display of her work, she gradually noticed something wasn’t quite right.

Bethan said: “I just found I never fitted in because I was doing clothing, I was doing fashion. People who go to markets, they’ll pick up something small like some candles and get some food and drink afterwards.

“They're not expecting to carry around a pair of jeans. There’s no changing rooms in there either. Also, someone selling candles needs less space for their stall than I do.”

Last year, Bethan came up with a new idea to showcase her work. She said: “We’re a big fashion city. It was to be able to kind of make it an event where you try things on with your friends.

“You’d be able to find the next up and coming brands. It would be an event rather than a market. You could have a bar there. You’d try stuff on then have a drink in the bar.”

The idea started to gain traction when she told fellow Liverpool fashion designer Nia Rose, who runs Woven by Nia Rose, about it. Bethan said: “She does these incredible bags that she weaves out of wool. She’s got a degree in fashion communication. We met up because we were going to do a collaboration and make bucket hats for Glastonbury.

“She's in the same position I was about two years ago. She's a full time cleaner and is trying to break through. She got dead excited when I told her about my idea and said, 'yes we need to do that.' She pushed me into gear. She's the driving force behind it.”

Bethan and Nia have therefore created Couture Collective. The aim is to host regular pop-up events where people will make a night of trying out the latest items from emerging fashion creatives with their friends.

Bethan said: “Nia’s got friends who would be interested in showcasing their items. I've also spoken to another Liverpool designer, Drew Kent. He’s had his stuff worn by Joe Lycett on Channel 4. He's making bags at the moment that he wants to sell there.

“We’ve got the idea of jewellery stalls and accessories you can get made such as phone charms. We want some interactive things. We don’t want it to be static. We've got a list of influencers that we want to invite too.”

Bethan and Nia are planning to host these events in a vacant shop in the Metquarter, although this has not been confirmed yet. Bethan is confident this will be the right fit for her.

She said: “A pop-up event every now and then is a bit more exclusive. People will say, ‘this is the only event for two months, so we’ve got to go.’”

Bethan believes she made the right call ditching her office job. She said: “It’s crazy to think, it’s 10 years since I graduated. I feel like I can do my passion now. I'm living the life I always wanted to live. I don't really care about the money.

“I just want to be happy and I feel like I'm doing that.”

You can find out more information about Couture Collective via its Instagram account, @couturecollectiveco.

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