AFTER being on maternity leave with her second child Stockport mum and fashion designer Tracey Shahlavi decided she no longer wanted to return to work – but instead set her sights on becoming her own boss.

And, in September 2009 she did just this, when she opened up Serenity Co a fashion design consultancy.

“This is something I have always wanted to do” said Tracey, who has worked in the fashion industry for more than ten years, “when I went back to work after having my first child it was very difficult leaving her and I didn’t want to do it again, so becoming a mum for the second time gave me that final push I needed.”

Since launching Serenity Co Tracey has secured her first client and business is building all the time.

Having originally undertaken a Fine Arts Degree at the Cumbria College of Art & Design in Carlisle Tracey went on to train as a fashion designer and since then she has been involved in designing high street fashion collections for retailers such as Top Shop and Debenhams.

As well as working on a consultancy or freelance basis designing fashion collections for other companies Tracey is also looking at developing her own range of bridal products and is currently in talks with three factories in China who will work on the manufacturing side of the business with her.

“I am really enjoying working for myself” said Tracey, “Not only do I get to spend more time with my children who are aged one and four, and save a great deal on childcare costs, but I also feel that it is very rewarding working for myself.

“Self-employment really is the ideal solution for me as in the fashion industry you have to work very long hours but now I can plan my work round family life.”

Tracey recently designed some clothing for an outlet based in the Trafford Centre and said it was a great feeling to see her designs in the window. She added: “It was a really good feeling and it meant so much more because I am working for myself and not somebody else. When you make your own money you really feel proud of your achievements.”

After taking the decision to become her own boss Tracey made contact with women’s enterprise agency Train 2000 which has been contracted through Stockport Council with Stockport Boost to deliver business support that is specific to the needs of women.

Since then Tracey has worked on a one-to-one basis with a business adviser to develop her business plan and launch Serenity Co – services which have been delivered free of charge to Tracey under the Intensive Start-Up Support (ISUS) contract.

“The support I received from Train 2000 was fantastic” said Tracey, “I worked with my adviser Mike Marsden to develop a comprehensive business plan which really gave me the confidence to move forward. I had never done anything like this before but Train 2000 really supported me through this process so that it didn’t seem to daunting.

“I also accessed a marketing workshop through Train 2000 which gave me ideas about how to promote my business and the best way to use the internet and develop my own website. It’s really good to know that there is an organisation there who can offer me the advice and support I need.”

To find out more about Serenity Co visit or contact Tracey on 0161 486 0551, and for more information on the free business support you can receive from Train 2000 click here.