The student's story behind DucksBath clothing

Posted 1 month ago

From sketchpad to student staple

DucksBath is shaking things up at the University of Bath (and beyond!) 

You might have already seen people wearing our new, incredibly popular clothing line from The Market:

DucksBath was founded in 2022 by one of our very own Integrated Design Engineering students, Chiara Cortina Pickholz. 

We sat down with Chiara to chat about the challenges and triumphs of student entrepreneurship, and how the University's retail team has helped her on her way.  

Your items have been flying off the shelves at The Market! How does it feel to see your designs worn by students around campus?

It's incredible. Seeing people I've never met wearing DucksBath is a dream come true. It shows the value and appeal of my designs. My goal was always to create something cool, and it looks like I succeeded.

What have you learnt while working with the team at The Market?

The biggest lesson has been learning how to communicate with other businesses. B2B sales are different from B2C, though my main focus remains students. Logistics and timing are crucial. The Market has been very supportive, constantly giving suggestions, updates, and feedback, which is invaluable as I plan to expand to other universities.

Can you tell us a bit about how their guidance helped you navigate things like invoices and stock management?

They've been incredibly supportive. Whenever I made a mistake or could improve, they let me know. It's a healthy relationship where we help each other, aiming to serve Bath students better.

What was the design process like? Did you have a clear vision from the start, or did it evolve over time?

From the start, I wanted to use the duck symbol. It's underused at the University and everyone loves ducks! The design evolved through many iterations, but the final version felt perfect. Its simplicity and cuteness have made it a hit among students.

a woman reading a book

Sustainability is a major theme in your designs. What made you prioritise eco-friendly materials for your clothing line?

The University's focus on sustainability influenced me, and I felt committed to that idea. Students are very into sustainability, so it was a no-brainer. Creating something cool that aligns with these values was just incredible.

Did you face any challenges during the design or production process? How did you overcome them?

Quality was a top priority, so I spent a lot of time testing samples, suppliers, and designs. The biggest challenge was timing. Delays and misunderstandings with suppliers happen, but you learn quickly and things smooth out. Treat both customers and suppliers the best you can.

a person standing on a bed

This is a fantastic example of how the University fosters student entrepreneurship. How has your experience helped you develop your business skills?

It's true you can read all the books you want, but until you put it into practice, it’s useless. Starting a business is like a personal MBA—you learn about markets, design, communication, logistics, and more. Plus, you can earn money while learning, which is amazing.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently in your design or production process?

You always learn from experience. If I could save myself some steps, I'd say choosing a good supplier is key. Don't rush this part. Test thoroughly. Also, remember: you can have the best product in the world, but if people don’t know about it, they will never buy. Get out there and promote it.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experience or your plans for the future?

My main goal now is to expand to other universities across the UK, with unique designs for each. My mission remains the same: offer fun, fashionable, and high-quality merchandise to students. University is a unique experience, and I want to create something memorable and meaningful for students.

What advice would you give to other students interested in starting their own creative venture?

Just start. You don't need more research or money; you need to take the first step. Entrepreneurship is about solving problems. Start by solving your own—you'll find others have the same issues, and they'll pay for your solutions.

a close up of earl DucksBath designs