Shalize Nicholas, the founder of Madia & Matilda, talks to us about her journey from starting her sustainable fashion business to making it a success


“Fashion can be a hard business to crack, but if you have the passion and determination you CAN do it.”

“We’re celebrating 5 years of Madia & Matilda and I feel ultimately blessed for the fantastic opportunities I have had on the journey so far. Madia & Matilda is growing, our designs are sold all over the world and it’s great to see the reach”

Shalize Nicholas, the founder of Madia & Matilda, talks to us about her journey from starting her sustainable fashion business to making it a success

Tell us about your own creative journey from starting out in the early days

“Well it all started out in Stroud – I’m a Stroudie through and through. In year 9, at Archway School I chose to explore textiles and art. I really enjoyed the process of creating clothes.

From there I went to Cirencester college to study fine art where one of my tutors, Siobhan Dury, instilled the idea of hard work, and really supported and encouraged me.  After that I went to Manchester Metropolitan – to study fashion design and technology – the course was extensive. We used body scan machines and in the laboratory we learnt about different fibres and materials, and what it would be like to work in the industry. 

From looking at carbon impact, and reducing our wastage sustainability was something I wanted to develop further. Through growth and personal development each university assignment always ended up in this direction – it seems that sustainability was at the core of my beliefs without me even knowing it! So when it came to my final project, everything I made was upcycled. And that was the brain child of my business.

When I started Madia & Matilda I took small steps, starting from my parents dining room table, then moving to a small unit in Rooksmoor Mill. Today we’re in the centre of Stroud and we’ve been here 3 years.”

Where did you go for advice or ideas? 

“When I in 2013 started I was 24 and was able to get involved with the Princes Trust, which was great. They gave me advice and training, plus I had a few mentors who helped me work towards creating a business. 

What also really helped was the business element of my University course. During my University course there was a placement year which I completed at Littlewoods and Very. However, when I was going into sixth form, I completed an NVQ in business which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as what I learnt has been really useful.  

I’ve also had advice and help from friends and family - my mum’s friend is an accountant and runs a business and gives me great advice. And my dad ran his own business so he’s always good to talk to too.”

What you are doing now and what your plans are for the future?  

“Madia & Matilda use end of line materials or materials that have tiny defects – otherwise they would be thrown away. With our zero waste ethos, we’ve created a business model that is sustainable and I look forward to seeing what happens in the future. 

As a business we’re really interested in the circular economy, in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible. Therefore, we have started to do alterations in store - which we’ve realised it’s really relevant. As many people would buy fewer clothes if they could repair their clothes or have people like us repair them! People are more conscious and there is a growing feeling of change, if you look at climate change, it shows we need to be more responsible for our impact of fashion on the environment.

Things are going really well, we’re employing more international interns and seamstresses - so it’s quite busy. We’re also getting ready for a couple of Christmas events we have coming up – people can find us at the Goodwill Evening in Stroud which is happening on the 7th December.

In the future we will be expanding our online business and we’re thinking about introducing a loyalty scheme so watch this space.”

What top tips would you give someone who is just starting out?  

“Keep going and accept it’s going to be a challenge (but a good one). People have misconceptions about fashion, that you’ll have instant success (well society as a whole thinks everything is instant) but it isn’t and shouldn’t be - you need to work hard and persevere. Keep pursuing your passions and don’t look at a setback as a closed door as it could be a new opportunity.” 

What have you learnt along the way?

“Not everything goes the way you want it to but it’s worth it in the end. Perseverance!”

What do you look for in an intern or apprentice?

“Enthusiasm. Be Keen. Show passion towards doing the work. It is really important to show that you want to be there. We have some great interns and you can read some of their stories here”

Meg Cox - Intern at Madia & Matilda

“I was first an intern at Madia & Matilda in 2014 during the summer before I went to study Fashion Media and Marketing at university. I was able to gain valuable knowledge on many roles involved in a fashion brand, which gave me a great step up before starting my studies. I loved being able to apply my own creativity and ideas, which sometimes is rare in some fashion internships. Shalize always valued my additions to the brand, and gave me the freedom to take on jobs that I was interested in; allowing me to develop skills in various departments.”

We’d like to thank Shalize for sharing her experience with us - thank you Shalize! To find out more about Madia & Matilda, internships and sustainable fashion please take a look at the links below.

And if you are local to Stroud then you can meet Shalize on her Madia & Matilda stall at the Stroud Goodwill evening on Friday 7th December. More details here

Lastly, if you’d like to find people and organisations that can help you make steps into a creative career, please take a look at our creative steps pages


Madia and Matilda 

Five Years in The Making - Madia & Matilda

To read Shalize’s blog on sustainability and fast fashion