Naomi’s story

Naomi studied saddlery, bridle and shoemaking during her time at Capel Manor College.

“I used to visit the College’s open days with my family when I was little. I always loved spending sunny days there, exploring the grounds. Capel Manor College was the only college in the UK where I could study the courses I wanted to do full time. I spent a total of three years at the College studying the saddlery and bridle making course and, I was one of the first students to study their shoemaking course. 

When I left school after completing my A-Levels, I worked with horses for many years, first at an East London riding school before working as a show rider/groom and freelance horse riding instructor. At school, I studied creative subjects and as I got older I missed making items by hand, though I had not planned to go back as I did not like being at school. I enjoyed being back in education in my 20s and I found I had more drive and focus, especially with such a hands-on and creative subject. I found being a mature student at the College was a really positive experience. 

I loved both of my courses, there was so much to learn and we were all encouraged to practice our skills in a variety of different projects. It was wonderful to see such improvements in our drawing and making skills. The tutors were all supportive but we were also allowed to be independent and that gave me a real feeling of pride when a project was completed. 

Through the course, I was able to meet designers and shoemakers such as Georgina Goodman, Tracey Neuls and Dominic Casey. We could ask them questions about their careers and where they get inspiration for their pieces. Dominic Casey even spent the afternoon giving us a lesson about measuring feet for bespoke shoemaking.

Before joining Capel Manor College, I visited the campus to ask some questions about the saddlery course before I started and immediately I was struck by the really friendly and warm atmosphere. During my time on the courses, everyone was always doing their best to help and encourage me to explore my imagination and it almost felt like I was part of a big family. 

Through the course, I have gained confidence in my own ability to adapt and learn. I have a whole new set of skills that I can take with me and apply to the production of shoes, bags, fashion accessories and many other objects. I have a real understanding of how to work with leather and other materials to produce pieces entirely by hand, from design and pattern cutting to the whole making process.

I am now studying BA Footwear Design at London College of Fashion which Capel Manor College gave me all the skills I needed to enrol on this course. It also gave me the confidence to explore my creative side and I hope to gain the knowledge and skills I need to start a bespoke footwear and leather goods company.”