- Course studied:
- Graphic Design
- Year of graduation:
Rob Fenton tried many times to get away from Staffordshire but the area kept calling him home.
Despite moving around to Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester and London looking for work – as well as travelling around Europe – he eventually realised that the Creative County was the place to be.
The 30-year-old now co-owns creative retail space Entrepreneurs (https://ntrprnrs.com) in Hanley and is working with partners across Stoke-on-Trent to improve and build on the cultural opportunities available across the city.
“I had often attempted to run away from the area in pursuit of what I thought at the time was the bigger, better deal,” says Rob, who graduated from his BA(Hons) Graphic Design course in 2007. “It took me moving away to London to realise just how much I missed the area. “Since then I now channel all of my energies into helping the city of Stoke-on-Trent grow and evolve – skills that the University helped ingrain in me during my time there.”
Rich cultural heritage
Rob, who completed a foundation course at Newcastle-under-Lyme College before progressing to Staffordshire University, pursued a career in graphic design after graduation but had an idea for a business venture that would combine many of his interests and love of all things visual.
In August 2014, after many years of planning and developing, Rob and his friends and fellow creatives Tom Edwards and Andy Cooke opened the doors of Entrepreneurs to the public – and haven’t looked back since.
Based in Piccadilly in the heart of the city’s Cultural Quarter, Entrepreneurs is not only a store selling quality street wear and emerging clothing brands from around the world, it’s also a hub for exhibitions, workshops and urban art.
“Staffordshire is steeped in history and rich cultural heritage,” says Rob, who lives in Porthill. “The pottery industry has left so many great canvases for development and growth. My university course taught me to think outside of the box and I love searching for new possibilities within these places.
“I want to continue to grow and build a culture of like minds. The creative people in this city are capable of so much positive change and development. It’s exciting for me to be a part of that. We want to fly the flag of the Creative County once again, and with so many new opportunities happening here it won’t be long!”
Rob, who is always working on ideas for new businesses, keeps in touch with developments at the University through friends who work there and remains impressed with the creative work produced by students during their courses.
“The physical space hasn’t changed that much since I’ve left but what the university has managed to do in terms of developing the space down there is incredible,” he says. “It’s had some serious thought put into it and the changes made look incredible.
“I try and visit as much as possible for the exhibitions as I know the quality of the work that comes from the University. I’m never disappointed.”