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From intern to shoe designer for Nicholas

Industry experience is vital for young people with a career in mind. Internships and work experience can sometimes be drudgery but, as this story from the University of Northampton marketing department reveals, can sometimes lead to invaluable opportunities…

A summer internship with a Swedish fashion brand has led to a part-time designing role for a budding footwear designer from the University of Northampton.

Nicholas Fowler-Ekar spent four months working at Axel Arigato’s headquarters in Gothenburg in between the second and third years of his Footwear & Accessories degree.

The placement went so well that after returning to Northampton in September for the start of the new academic year, Nicholas was offered and accepted a part-time junior designer role with Axel Arigato. He now combines his studies with two days at the company’s London offices.

Nicholas Fowler

“The whole experience has been amazing,” said Nicholas. “During my time in Sweden I learned and experienced so much. Just being able to live in a different country and meet new people was an experience on its own – the friends I made will last a lifetime and I can’t wait to move there, full time, if the opportunity arises.

“Working abroad was not too different to the UK, in that the company language is English. But the culture of work itself is nicer and more chilled than in the UK because of a very strong belief that everybody should be treated equally. This means there is no hierarchy system and I could really feel that in the company, especially as I was an intern, who are usually at the very bottom of any structure. But I was given a lot of responsibility and  trust from the get-go, which really brought the best out of me and let me demonstrate my skills.”

It wasn’t all work for Nicholas, though, who had the opportunity to explore both Sweden and Denmark during down time.

“I was doing something every weekend and most nights after work,” said Nicholas, who comes from Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

“It was the hottest summer in Sweden for years, and I really enjoyed visiting Stockholm and Copenhagen and of course, seeing the best of Gothenburg. Sweden’s a beautiful country with some amazing history.”


Picking up in London where he left off in Sweden, Nicholas is keen to complete projects he started over the summer, while also taking on new challenges.

“In Sweden I was mainly helping the head footwear designer,” he said. “But I was also given a few projects to run with that are actually being sampled and could go into actual production. Now, in London I am able to finish what I started during my internship and also work on special projects. I’m also going to Paris Fashion Week with the company in January, which I couldn’t be more excited for.”

Nicholas’s trip to Sweden was supported by the Worshipful Company of Cotrdwainers, which awarded him a very generous internship bursary.

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