Case study

New affiliate member joins Banks Mill Studios and the Innovation Hothouse

A lady smiling in front of an apple mac computer.

Erica Horne has recently joined the Banks Mill community as an affiliate member and is also part of the Innovation Hothouse, a support network for University of Derby enterprising graduates. Erica runs CAD for Fashion which specialises in CAD training and tuition for the fashion and textiles industry.

Graduating from the University of Derby in 2012 Erica discovered through her studies a strong ability to proficiently use Adobe software.  Initially using her skills to deliver projects as favours for friends, training them during her studies in return for pizza she soon discovered this could be developed into a viable business model.

Her first job after graduation was designing clothing for girls, using her CAD software skills.  This was when Erica started using her spare time to start teaching her trade. 

Erica comments:

“I was put forward for an opportunity to deliver a short course at a local university by a visiting lecturer who taught me on my degree. It was terrifying! I had a mixed group of ages and abilities; from a trained graphic designer to a senior Fashion lecturer and a senior designer who had never even sent an email from a computer. That one-week course gave me a huge amount of experience, a huge boost in confidence and the bug for teaching!”

Erica also joined a support scheme for University of Derby students and graduates to learn more about running a business, Erica says: “The scheme not only gave me the essential knowledge on how businesses work but the mentorship and community of peers helped with not only problem solving and idea generation but it had a huge positive impact on my confidence too.”

As Erica continued to work and teach in the industry she realised that there were a huge range of people she could help; from design teams and senior designers who have never used software to students and graduates who needed more help and training with the software that Universities currently offer. Eventually she decided to take the leap and leave her designer role to work on CAD for Fashion and pursue more lecturing work.

Erica notes: “When I left my job I took part in the Big House elevator workshops which helped me kickstart my tuition and corporate training, they also told me about the D2N2 Growth Hub. My Growth Hub advisor helped me to set up as a limited company, secure funding and set up my training studio in 2018.”

CAD for Fashion had an amazing first two years working with other industry experts and teaching learners travelling from all over the country, from companies such as the White Company and George.

Then came the pandemic, Erica says: “I was pregnant with my second child and with so much uncertainty ahead I decided to close the studio and quickly pivot the business to online training. Since then we have taught individuals from the US, Italy, Kenya and all over the UK. We are at the beginning of something exciting so we are looking forward to building this business model further.”

Last year Erica also won the Mainframe award for best digital/creative start up. The Mainframe Awards highlight the digital and creative community in Derby and Derbyshire and are an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate talented creatives and their work.

Along with running CAD for Fashion Erica also works as a visiting lecturer on the Fashion and Textiles degree teaching CAD.

Erica has also recently joined the University of Derby’s Innovation Hothouse, a support network for students and graduates starting their own business.  Erica comments:

“I’m looking forward to being part of a network of other small businesses. This past year has been isolating for many of us so to be part of this community feels like perfect timing. The changes to my business model means I need to update my business plan and start thinking about where I want to go next. The support and advise available from the innovation Hothouse is very much welcomed at this stage.“


To find out more about CAD for Fashion visit their website or follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.