A Dundee businesswoman who says the most recent lockdown left her feeling suicidal has won an award.
Deborah Breen, who set up fashion brand Wilde Mode in 2018, suffers from depression.
She struggled with her mental health during the first half of this year as the country went back into lockdown.
She was unable to access Wilde Mode’s base at Dundee and Angus College, and was left feeling helpless, not able to make products for her customers.
The 41-year-old said: “During the first lockdown, I couldn’t access the unit.
“I found that frustrating so I bought another sewing machine and picked up some supplies, and I started making face masks.”
‘I felt suicidal’
Deborah explained that as restrictions were lifted last summer, the business returned to operating as normal.
She found the return to lockdown in January difficult, with work on pause once more.
She said: “Through the second lockdown, I felt suicidal – it was awful because I couldn’t go and make things that help people.
“That almost broke me – I’ve not felt that depressed since the really bad time in 2016-2017.
“I couldn’t access my work to go and help people. I felt like I was letting people down, and it was the worst feeling.”
The former Harris Academy pupil thanked her customers for their support.
Deborah added: “My customers are like family – we have such an amazing relationship – and a lot of them were messaging me.
“That really got me through. Their support is phenomenal.”
At the end of last year, Deborah also won a legal battle with fast fashion e-commerce platform Shein.
A new home for Wilde Mode
Difficulties accessing their base at Dundee and Angus College also prompted a move to The Circle in February.
Their initial room proved too small for Deborah and her team of four staff, but they have since moved into a 700 sq ft former conference room.
She said: “We’re here working really hard creating items that empower people.”
The mother-of-two was one of 15 winners from the #BeTheRoleModel campaign run by NatWest.
The award includes financial health checks for up to a year, support from an entrepreneur development manager and coaching sessions with a scale-up acceleration manager.
Deborah hopes it will allow her to continue the growth of the business.
She added: “We want to continue what we do and up-scale the business.
“We’re turning over five figures each month and I never thought that would be the case when we started.
“I am absolutely delighted with the success so far.
“When I started Wilde Mode in 2018, I didn’t ever think that I would be running a successful brand three years later with a team of creative people around me.
“I hope to use this opportunity to continue growing the business that I love, offering more opportunities to the creative community in Dundee and continuing our mission.”
Looking for a new recruit
While she was delighted with the award from NatWest, she reiterated the support from her customers is her main driver behind the business.
“The feedback I get from customers is why I do it,” she said.
“The feedback from my customers means more to me because I am making a difference to someone’s life.”
Deborah also plans to recruit a new employee this summer, with two of her existing team set to leave.
“We’re looking for someone to train up now and they’ll have a full-time job in September,” she said.