A SOUTHEND-BASED fashion designer is enjoying success in European style capital Paris.

Carmen Woods creates luxury women’s fashion accessories, fabrics and wall coverings from her studio in Southend.

She had always enjoyed success through her online business since it was established in 2008 and last year took part in a three-day trade mission to Paris to broaden her horizons into France and America.

Themission, designed for new exporters in the fashion industry, was subsidised by United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI).

Carmen said: “The mission was a fantastic opportunity for me to meet influential fashion industry and market experts and to learn about doing business in France.

“For example, I learnt that I should capitalise further on the fact I am British and my products are manufactured in the UK as Britain is seen as a hub for the creative industries and our pool of talent is recognised as unique throughout the world.

“In this current market, I felt I should be doing business overseas, but I knew that without sufficient funding, guidance and suppor,t I might struggle to grow my business internationally.

“Which is why I decided it would be wise to seek UKTI assistance.”

On the mission, Carmen was introduced to international trade adviser Michael Macartney, who has 40 years’ experience in the interior design industry.

Carmen said: “Through his extensive contacts, Michael introduced me to all the right people at Maison et Objet [a prestigious trade event] this year, including a large French interior design company that is very interested in my work. He has gone above and beyond what I expected his role to be.”

On his advice, Carmen signed up for a Passport to Export, a 12- month programme providing new exporter swith overseas business support, and went to New York to meet potential agents.

To find out more about UKTI services in the East of England call 0845 641 9955, email info@uktieast.org.uk or visit www.gov.uk/ukti