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Words: Tovonya Raybe


THEENTREPRENEUR


YOUNG & AMBITIOUS


‘Are you a complainer or are you going to have an impact on society and create an everlasting legacy,’ asks Faith Johnson.


Growing up in the Olympic London borough of Newham, Faith’s family were subjected to racism and abuse from the local community. However, rather than let this have a negative affect on her, it made her stronger. ‘Your surroundings can influence the type of person you’re going to be; you get to a certain age that you have to be able to discern. You can’t let the negativity in society shape you or dishearten you, it’s about what you ideally want to do with your life.’


This determination and strength propelled an 18-year-old Faith into the world of leadership in the summer of 2008. She set up an outreach fashion project, teaching basic sewing and printing in her local café. The first class only had seven people, with 25 attending each session in the following weeks. Caramel Rock, as she named her company, was born,


84 WWW.FLAVOURMAG.CO.UK


growing rapidly, as did her passion to take her idea to the next level.


That summer she waited to find out if she got into the world-renowned Central Saint Martins, College of Art & Design, whose alumni includes the likes of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Stella McCartney, to name but a few. If accepted, Faith would bring high fashion to Newham, and help those without parental guidance or a sense of ambition.


‘When I got into Central St Martins I decided to run another fashion project where I would teach everything I learnt to the young people in my community. There was a youth Dragons’ Den at the time and I managed to nail a perfect pitch, which gained me funding. During that time I was under the umbrella of the Ascension Community Trust, the place that initially instilled leadership qualities in me. With their guidance they helped me set up as a charity.’


Faith explains her journey wasn’t easy. ‘It’s tough, sometimes you


start to invest your time in the wrong people. I care about people a lot; I used to want to help everyone, but I know and understand it’s impossible to do that. I had to take the time to let a lot of people and things go in order to keep moving forward. It was never personal, but some people just won’t get it, even though I want them to.’


Since then, Faith, 23, has expanded and now has nine sub-companies and programmes under the Caramel Rock banner. They range from her own clothing line to education and activities like street dance. The main company, the charity that teaches kids to design and make the fiercest high fashion pieces, is what’s most amazing. Not only does she equip them with a skill, but they have the opportunity to build up a portfolio and showcase their garments in various fashion shows, such as London Fashion Week. With smart mentoring she is able to help those often influenced by crime and antisocial behaviour by gearing their minds to something useful, fun and positive.


Watch this space, the next big thing may very well be from Caramel Rock.


Follow Faith Johnson on Twitter @caramelrock or visit caramelrock.com


Caramel Rock


High fashion hits Newham...


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