It’s been an exciting six months for Jessica Cunningham and Emma Deeks.
In May this year, the Sheffield sisters went into business together, launching their fashion brand – Prodigal Fox. And last week, three million people saw their designs when they made a guest appearance on BBC’s ‘Class of 92’.
“We couldn’t believe it when people started calling and messaging to tell us to turn on the TV,” laughs 28-year-old Jessica.
“Months before, at a photoshoot for our brand launch, one of our models asked if he could bring a BBC camera crew along with him, but he wasn’t able to tell us why.
“It turns out that our model, Gareth Seddon, is the striker for Salford City FC – the football team featured in Class of 92.”
Class of 92 follows the adventures of former Manchester United stars Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville and Nicky Butt after buying non-league side Salford City FC.
“We’ve known Gareth for years,” explains Jessica.
“He agreed to come and take part in the photoshoot as a favour – we had no idea what else he was involved with.”
The one-minute clip shows Seddon modelling Prodigal Fox clothing at a country estate in Lancashire, with a handful of other models.
Jessica adds: “We were just getting ready to launch so we were keeping costs as low as possible - roping friends in to model, do the make-up and even begging the location from our friend’s parents.
“Imagine how ecstatic we were to find out that two local girls with a big dream were on a prime time BBC TV show associated with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
“This last year has been a lot of hard work for us, but seeing our clothes on TV made it all worthwhile.”
Beautician Emma, aged 33, of Totley, and marketing-whizz Jessica, of Dronfield, first dreamed up the idea of launching their own fashion brand in January.
Emma has a degree in fashion design and loves creating patterns and unique designs. Jessica has a solid fashion, retail and marketing background and so the sisters decided to put everything on the line and take a shot, going into business for themselves. Weeks later they were in Paris on an exhausting scouting trip, sourcing materials for their line.
“The thing we’re most proud of is that we’ve done everything ourselves,” says Jessica.
“The designs, the creation, the branding, the graphics, we’re even teaching ourselves all about web site design and SEO now with the help of online tutorials.
“All our dresses are designed and handmade to measure from our studio – currently my back bedroom!
“Our dream is to have our own workshop in Sheffield and – eventually – our own boutique, where people can come and browse our collection and even make an appointment to come and sit with us and design their very own outfit – which will be ready for them to wear days later.”
They have already sold hundreds of their designs in the UK, and the sisters have concentrated on making sure their brand is filled with clothes that make women feel confident and empowered.
Jessica says: “Prodigal Fox is sexy, luxurious, fun and a little bit cheeky – like the women behind it, we like to think!
“We have high end prices, but we know not everyone can afford £200 for a dress, so we also have dresses on there for £70, which we think is incredible for a handmade item.
“We love that people can come to us and create something that exists in their heads, but not yet in the shops.
“The reaction so far has been great. We’re feeling really positive about the future,” she added.
They also have a strict, and rather unusual ‘one design per outward postcode’ rule.
“There’s nothing worse than going into a bar feeling fabulous... and seeing somebody wearing your exact outfit,” insists Emma.
“That’s why we only sell one design in every postcode, meaning if you live in Sheffield’s S10 and you buy a dress from us, nobody else in S10 can have that same dress – we want our ladies to feel unique and special.”
And while the pair’s close bond, teamed with their ‘passion for fashion,’ has kept them going in the first exhausting months, the investment of time hasn’t always been easy, as the sisters are raising five young children between them.
Emma smiles: “Yes we’re both mums, though at nine and seven, mine are a little older than Jess’s three, who are four, three and one, meaning I have a little more freedom and flexibility in my work schedule.
“We’re both still working full time, as every penny Prodigal Fox makes is getting rolled back into the business, but we can’t wait until the day we can make it our full-time priority.
“We both have a lot of passion for the brand and are loving working together. Our minds are so similar that we’ll often finish each other’s thoughts, sentences and design ideas.
“It’s been an intensely busy year for us and we can’t believe how far we’ve come; we’re genuinely loving every minute of our venture.
“The lovely BBC surprise was just the icing on the cake!”
n Visit www.prodigalfox.com to find out more.