Game Changers! 4 Creatives Making Waves Across the Midlands

The Midlands is a breeding ground of creative energy claiming some of the UK’s best universities for creatives. In a new, regular feature we look at who’s making waves from the Midlands.


Coventry University graduate Chloe Hollingsworth had a dream one night that she made a jacket, entirely out of tinsel, she knew from there
she had to turn her dream into a reality and immediately started drawing out the design to make it. Chloe started Bottle Blonde Studios in her bedroom in 2016 and as more and more people became aware of the brand and her unique and fun designs, she knew she couldn’t do it alone, so enlisted the help of fashion student interns at Coventry University.

Fast forward 3 years and the brand now has its own studio in the city, they’ve had to move several times to bigger studios to keep up the constant flow of orders from across the globe and celebrity clients including Jessie J and most recently Lady Gaga.

Chloe said “Getting asked by Gaga’s team to create a jacket just for her was such a big deal for myself and the brand, especially considering how much of a fan girl I am! ”

Chloe’s designs are now sold on multiple platforms, including We Koko, Silk Fred and Asos Marketplace and started her business with zero finance in place so sought help from The Prince’s Trust and still works with the charity today showing what can be achieved with a dream, some tinsel, and a lot of hard work.


Formed back in 2014, Nottingham’s The Five Hundred have been gaining momentum and a huge following filling the floors of any music venue they perform in. Since their debut on the local music scene they have performed extensively as far as Moscow, Germany and London as well as at big festivals such as Tech Fest, Euro Fest and MacMillan Fest.

Made up of John, Paul, Mark, Andy and Kelsey, The Five Hundred is a Midland’s answer to Alice in Chains; a whirlwind of blood, sweat and energy and definitely get the crowd’s adrenaline levels going through the roof. Wherever these guys go intense guitar riffs, deep powerful vocals with screamo energy and full-on manic performances follow.

With two albums already under their belts; The Veil and their new album Bleed Red, this year they supported SHVPES on their UK tour and are appearing at the Camden and Rabid Fest’s later this year. For further listening pleasure check out Oblivion, Smoke & Mirrors and Bleed Red. Keep you eyes on this lot, they are on the road to bigger things.

Written by Adam Humphreys.


Younger sister of Jack O’Connell, 23 year old Megan O’Connell from Derby is following her brother to Hollywood but staying strictly behind the cameras. A first-year student at London’s MetFilm School studying the BA in Practical Filmmaking, Megan first got the filming bug when being taken along to watch her brother shoot episodes of Skins.

“I think it was then I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I remember looking around and thinking how do you learn to do these things? Where do these people go to school to learn all this?”

Megan, who is from Derby dropped out of Sixth Form during her first year. “It just couldn’t offer what I wanted, I knew I was wasting everyone’s time. I had a few jobs, I worked in Top Shop and did some bar work, but I knew I needed to get into the film industry, so I kept trying until I managed to get a job on a set working as a PA.

“I was able to see what life would be like from inside the industry and it just made me want to make films even more. I asked around, trying to work out how I could learn this craft and someone recommended going to a specialist film school. I know MetFilm School has a great reputation, but I chose the school because of the experience that I had on the Open Day. I was made to feel so welcome, I was reassured and everyone was really friendly. I felt comfortable straight away and no-one had any expectation that I should know what I was doing.

Megan has now created her first short film. Based on a true story and set in Derby 1959, Megan’s film ‘A Mother’s Ruin’ tells the story of Beatrice, a 21 year old off-license owner, who discovers she’s pregnant out of wedlock and who does what she must in order to get her boyfriend Arnie, a 30 year-old football coach for Derby County, to propose – even if it means emotionally blackmailing him.

Megan explains: “I only learnt of the story recently, and I want to do it justice – it hit me quite hard. I hadn’t really appreciated how harshly women were judged and the total lack of support a woman could expect if she ‘got caught’. I really want the film to be historically accurate – I love history almost as much as I love film and the first scene starts with an old Roberts radio broadcasting the 3-nil defeat of Derby County in a football match with Middlesbrough.”


Nottingham Trent Fashion Knitwear graduate Rory Longdon was awarded the Gold Award at Graduate Fashion Week in 2011, and has since gone on to pioneer his own fashion brand, MRC Knitwear in Italy.

“Winning the Gold Award was an incredible experience” and something he never expected to win, especially with a knitwear collection. He said, “I received mentoring sessions as part of the prize, these helped me begin to think about my future in the industry and what paths to take. My mentors helped me make some decisions as to where to take my career at that moment.”

As a recent graduate, Rory relocated to Italy to work with MaxMara group, before moving to New York to produce and design knitwear for Belstaff. Rory has used each opportunity presented to him, as well as the lessons and skills he picked up at university as a platform to pioneer his own brand, MRC Knitwear.

A year later, he returned to Italy and began working for himself and consulting for different clients.

“After working inside companies, I soon realised the creative part of knitwear was quite limited. I really enjoy being hands-on when I work, so finding myself in a grey corporate office on Fifth Avenue in New York without even a single cone of yarn… I knew I had to return back to having a knitting machine and being creative.” Rory said.

Shortly after his return to Italy, Rory met his business partner and collaborator and they started the studio MRC Knitwear where they work on their own collection and various projects for different clients.

Rory said: “My collections are definitely very textile led. I love developing new stitches and interesting techniques with my technician. We are always trying new developments, so they naturally become the starting
point to the collections.”

Ahead of this year’s GFW, Rory says: “This opportunity only comes once, so work really hard! Be very creative but also commercial!”

Spread the love