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Published 19th Mar 2012

Caption: Designing for rock royalty Claire Whaite, of Punky Pins, Middlesbrough, second left, with Cleveland College of Art & De

A North-East jeweller, whose handmade creations adorn the necks of rock royalty, has been inspiring the next generation of young designers from the region.

Three fashion enterprise students at Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD) have been working alongside Middlesbrough-based company Punky Pins, suppliers of cutting edge jewellery to the music and fashion elite.

Steph Edge, 24, Vicky Robertson, 21, and Samyra Ahmed, 21, were given access all areas to the A list company which has provided jewellery to X factor finalists, Brit Award winners, pop princess Rhianna and supermodel Georgia Jagger, who wore a Punky Pins name necklace on the front cover of fashion bible Vogue.

Student Samyra Ahmed, of Middlesbrough, said: “Getting to see how a company like Punky Pins works, both creatively and administratively, was incredible.

“As part of our course we were required to set up our own enterprise, Vintage Chic, which involved designing and selling our own customised vintage inspired bangles, so when we heard about Punky Pins it seemed the ideal place to apply for work experience.

“Getting involved in all areas of the business gave us all a great insight into how a design venture really works.

“It showed us that with the skills we have learnt at CCAD, running our own companies in the future would be an achievable prospect.”

Punky Pins was established in 2005 by director Claire Whaite, 31, after she was given a badge making machine as a Christmas present.

“I started designing and selling badges to friends and family and they proved so popular I bought a bigger machine and started to make other items of jewellery,” said Claire

“The company really snowballed from there and since then we have had a very close relationship with the college.

“Our first CCAD work experience student, Elizabeth Nguyen, came to us in 2007 and is still with us today now working for the firm.

“Since then we have had about 20 other CCAD students who have spent one day a week with us, over a three month period, to help them get an insight into the industry and five secured permanent jobs with us.”

“Steph, Vicky and Samyra have been a great help and were able to get hands-on experience both making the jewellery and also having their own input into our design process.

“I hope that they will take away the inspiration to go on and develop their creative skills in the industry in the future.”

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Punky Pins


Caption: Designing for rock royalty Claire Whaite, of Punky Pins, Middlesbrough, second left, with Cleveland College of Art & Design work experience students, L-R, Steph Edge, 24, of Darlington, Samyra Ahmed, 21, of Middlesbrough and Vicky Robertson, 21, of Yarm

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