An ambitious female-led North East ‘slow fashion’ brand is aiming high after securing a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

NOVO’s premium womenswear collection provides core wardrobe essentials and elevated basics to modern women, with its focus on timeless, interchangeable, made-to-last garments that can be worn for all occasions reducing the need to overbuy and so limiting wearers’ impact on the environment.

The business has already recorded sales of more than £250,000 since its brand relaunch in autumn 2020 and is now aiming to increase that figure at least three-fold before the end of next year as it becomes established alongside the best-known names in the luxury fashion sector.

After working with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure the £65,000 Small Loan Fund investment, NOVO is now growing its market share alongside leading industry connections, as well as focusing on further sustainable manufacturing practices within its core collection.

Greg Bolton and Rachel Swain of Momentum Taxation and Accountancy advised the NOVO directors on the investment, while the business was referred to NEL by Julie Ralph of 360 Funding.

NOVO was founded by Amy Whitfield and Rebecca Ward, whose extensive industry experience spans more than a decade, with Leanna King joining the firm’s team of directors in 2019.

The brand already ships from its online store to more than 30 countries around the world, with the US being its second-biggest market.

Pieces from its growing collection are also available in a number of high-end retail outlets in locations including London, Edinburgh, Dubai and New Zealand.

Selected pieces have already featured in publications including Vogue and Forbes, and have been seen on influencers, entrepreneurs and influential women of the moment.

Amy Whitfield says: “The last year has really seen the brand take off and we’re extremely ambitious to achieve a great deal more through the coming year and beyond.

“Each collection is designed around the modern woman and her lifestyle, and having a women-led creative team means we know personally what our customers are looking for and how best to cater to the demand.

“We’re also putting responsible and sustainable retail practices at the heart of what we do to help minimise our environmental impact through actions such as removing single-use plastic, using fully recyclable boxes and planning production volumes carefully to minimise waste.

“The premium quality of the materials we use also ensures the longevity of wear of all of our pieces.”

Rebecca Ward adds: “We have a strategic plan in place that we’re confident will elevate the NOVO brand into the highest echelons of the slow fashion sector, and this investment will aid us in putting this plan into practice.

“The NEL and Momentum teams were great to work with, and their support made the process of bringing the investment into the business pretty seamless.”

Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, says: “The NOVO team offered a clear vision for the development of both their business and the collections they design, and we’re excited to be working with a business with so much creative and commercial potential.”

Rachel Swain, associate at Momentum Taxation and Accountancy, adds: “We have worked with Novo over many years and are delighted to have been able to help secure the funding for their next exciting developments.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.