The Style Attic: Leeds mum wins 'Mumpreneur of the Year' award after founding fashion business in attic
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Leigh Unwin, 35, set up her business in the attic of her home after her daughter, Edie, was born just 25 weeks into her pregnancy.
Her early arrival flipped Leigh's life around and she was unable to continue her full-time job in the fashion industry.
She set up her business to fit around Edie's schedule of hospital appointments - and The Style Attic was born.
Customers were led through Leigh's home in Great Preston to her attic where they could browse a selection of fashion pieces.
“It was a strange concept at the time," Leigh told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"I didn’t know of anyone who was doing anything similar.
"I think the reason it did so well in the beginning was because it was so niche and unusual. People’s curiosity got the better of them."
As word spread through the east Leeds community, the business quickly outgrew Leigh's attic.
After the arrival of her son, Bodhi, she snapped up a unit on Woodland Drive in Swillington, opening one of the area's first independent fashion boutiques in 2019, followed by an online store when the pandemic hit.
“Everything has always happened around our family," Leigh added.
"We wanted our home life back, because there wasn’t much of a separation between work and home.
"It got even busier because we were more accessible to people."
The Style Attic is a real family affair - Leigh's sister Jade and mum Lisa both work in the business, and the rest of her family often pitch in to help with childcare.
Lisa has earned herself something of a cult following among the ladies of Swillington and customers often say they pop in just to see her.
Leigh said: “We want everyone to feel at ease - no matter what age, shape or size they are - and never to feel like they have to buy something.
“We wanted to give local people something that’s ‘their shop’, to feel like they’re part of it.
“We know it’s not always easy to support independents, we’re not always the cheapest and we can’t guarantee next day delivery.
"But independents can give you that extra touch that you can’t get from the big corporate giants. And if people don’t use these businesses - we won’t be here."
Leigh praised the phenomenal support she's had from women in Leeds and beyond.
The Style Attic hosts weekly live streams on social media, answering questions and showing off new products, which consistently draw in 20,000 views from their loyal community of followers.
And Leigh came away with the 'Mumpreneur of the Year' award at the annual Simply Ladies Awards earlier this year, a celebration of the achievements of women in the north of England.
"I’m so lucky to win this award, as all of the nominees were amazing," she added.
"To be awarded for being a mum in business makes it extra special as without my daughter Edie, my business wouldn’t exist.
"She is my inspiration and shining light, so this award is really for her."