Local Young Entrepreneur Alex Leighton Thrives with Support from Shropshire Youth Support Trust (SYST)
Hi, I’m Alex, I’m a Wardrobe Assistant in theatre, and run an embroidery business, and this is a little bit of my journey so far!
I’ve always loved being creative and working with my hands, and through scouting and being involved in their annual Gang Shows, I quickly figured out I wanted to pursue a career backstage. I found BOA Academy in Birmingham and was fortunate enough to attend and earn my BTEC in Technical Theatre Arts.
Rather than attend a university course that I knew I wasn’t ready for, I joined the Casual Technician pool at the Birmingham Hippodrome as a Dresser. As a Dresser, I work on the various touring productions that visit the Hippodrome and help with costumes and quick changes during shows, I’ve worked on over 25 different shows since I started, including Les Miserables, We Will Rock You, and Singing in the Rain.
Through contacts I made working as a Dresser, I was offered a job as a Wardrobe Assistant on Strictly Ballroom the Musical’s 2023 UK and Ireland tour, produced by Phil McIntyre productions, which took me to 28 venues in 6 months! The musical is based on Baz Luhrmann’s film and gave me the chance to work closely with ballroom dresses, suits, and even flamenco shoes, which I’d never seen before.
I love touring, but the lifestyle that comes with it is certainly a big adjustment, moving cities every week and staying in a stranger’s home.
During the pandemic, live theatre was unfortunately the first industry to close down, and the last to re-open, so I had to find a new job. After a few months at Tesco to tide me over, I started working for a local company, engraving military medals, learning to make frames, and embroidering logos. It was here that I gained my love for machine embroidery, so when I left the company the natural next step seemed to be to pursue embroidery.
In 2021, I found an embroidery machine on Facebook Marketplace and opened my company, Threadway Embroidery. I sought help from SYST who helped me to learn about the logistics and requirements of running a business, and allowed me to become more confident in making smart business decisions.
I’m in a better place now than I’ve ever been, in a lot of ways, and I’m so grateful for every opportunity I’ve been given so far. Bring on the next adventure!