"My name is Rachel Beattie and I am extremely honoured to be a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador. Together, me and my sister Laura, are co-founders of luxury ethical womenswear brand, Careaux, which we launched through the Prince’s Trust after completing the incredible Enterprise Programme in 2018. 

Careaux was founded from an idea I had when I was fourteen to combine my love of fashion and maths. I was inspired by our Nana, who was an amazing dressmaker and also one of the kindest people you could ever wish to meet. She spoke so passionately about creating dresses that were fitted to each and every woman. 

"Following this, I was driven by the fact it never made sense to me how each and every one of us are different, yet dresses are often one size throughout and do not change to reflect our diversity. 

"I was determined to solve this, and by applying maths to fashion, we’ve been able to invent a new type of dress. The dress has a hidden zip around the waist allowing it to completely separate into a top and skirt. Enabling the dress to have a different or same size top to bottom and you can also interchange the tops and skirts to create different style, fabric and colour combinations (number of tops x number of skirts = number of dresses e.g. if you have 2 tops and 2 skirts you actually have 4 possible dresses).

"As you can see, numeracy has played a massive role in my work and in who I am today. Here are a few more ways the skills I developed whilst studying maths have helped me on my way to starting my own business:

Never Give Up

"When I first had the idea for Careaux, I had no experience of running a business and I had no idea where to start. There were so many times when people would say the dress could not be done, as it was a new concept. But from my experience with maths, I knew that if I kept going and kept trying and did not give up then I would get there in the end. Just as I had to do when I was first learning what numbers were or how to count. By staying determined, we were able to create the first ever Careaux dress prototype. It was the most amazing feeling after all those years of dreaming, testing and a lot of learning. 

Embrace 'failing'

"Failure is such an important part of life and starting a business, and maths is the perfect example of this. On so many occasions, as I progressed through school, sixth form and university mathematics, I encountered ‘failure’ when I didn’t get the right answer or even when I didn’t know where to start. But maths has taught me that this means you are learning, and you are getting closer to the right answer. Also, in maths you get most of the marks for an answer for trying and showing your working out. This has been a lesson I have always kept with me - to always try and to embrace and learn from failure. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

"Nobody knows all of the answers and maths is a great example of this. However, whatever the problem being faced, the chances are that somebody has probably already solved it or has faced a similar problem before. As mentioned, having never run a business before and not knowing where to start - I have learnt the importance of reaching out for support from people like the wonderful Prince’s Trust, which has been invaluable.

If at first you don’t succeed, try a different method

"When things go wrong, you can often feel like you are not moving forward, and that you’re not getting the ‘right’ answer or even using the right method. Maths has taught me that it is so important to try different methods when something is not working or to try to do things differently to reach your end goal. Applying a method you have learned to something you have not thought about before, can mean you are able to innovate and create something new. As with Careaux, applying maths to dresses with our new concept has meant we have created a new type of dress, which we would not have discovered if we had just stuck to what had been tried before.

These skills, along with many others that I continue developing by applying maths in my life and business, help me every day. By being able to persevere and find new ways to solve a problem, I have been able to create dresses which are as diverse and original as the people who wear them!

This blog was written to mark and celebrate International Day of Mathematics (IDM), a worldwide celebration each year on March 14 of the essential role that mathematics and mathematics education play in breakthroughs in science and technology, improving quality of life and empowering women and girls.