Sign up to the MySalford newsletter to keep up with what’s happening in and around the city

Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice

Fashion entrepreneur Ainsleigh-Paige Rigby didn’t let being knocked back for a bank loan at the age of 22 stop her launching her own business from her kitchen table – and now she’s on course to turnover her first million at the age of 26.

Ainsleigh first had the idea to create a swimwear range after struggling to find the styles she wanted online or on the high street in 2018.

She designed everything herself, even the company’s website, after researching how to do it on the internet.

It was all a way of saving on costs after she was refused a bank loan for being a ‘high risk’ fashion start-up – so she used her life savings of £10,000 and borrowing on credit cards to get the business up and running instead.

Her debut Beach Doll collection was such a success that she soon expanded to a full fashion range of dresses, coats, accessories and loungewear, which is now the Wander Doll online brand.

Through lockdown she enjoyed a huge boom – after designing a range of loungewear that people working from home could not get enough of.

Turnover for 2020 was in six figures, with the business projected to make its first £1m in 2021.

Ainsleigh, from Higher Broughton, Salford, says: “My friends thought I was crazy at first, but I researched it all, I did my own designs and literally looked all over the internet for the best suppliers.

“I couldn’t get a bank loan so used my own savings and borrowing on credit cards, it has been entirely self-funded.

“I started with a stock of 1600 bikinis – people thought I was mental, but on the first day I sold 60, and was having to reorder within the first month.

“I was just this young girl with a big dream as corny as that sounds – and somehow it worked.”

Ainsleigh set up her own Instagram page and recruited her creative friends to help with the first fashion shoots for the brand.

She says: “I have a close group of friends and many of them are influencers or own businesses themselves [including Manchester fashion bloggers Sylvija, Emma Milton and Georgia and Poppy Bayliss]. With them posting photos wearing the brand it escalated really quickly.”

Ainsleigh was still working a full time desk job when she launched Beach Doll but the fashion business continued to grow – and in the winter of 2018 it became crunch time for the next step of the business.

She says: “When it came to winter, I still had an office job, but they said to me it was one or the other with my own business, so I thought I’m just going to have to make this work and took the plunge.

“I brought out a collection called Winter Doll, based around faux fur jackets, and that was what really cemented the brand – we were just so busy with orders.

“At that point I was still sorting all the orders from my kitchen which was completely filled with faux fur and wrapping paper!”

Things really took off when Ainsleigh followed up with her second swimwear collection for 2019 – and designed her best-selling Patcha bikini.

“I designed it with high waisted bottoms, almost like suck-you-in pants, in bright pink and white. I showed my mum and she hated it at first!

“But it ended up being the best-selling thing I’ve ever done.

“New mums were messaging me saying thank you for designing a bikini that makes me feel so good, they said I’d opened up doors to making them feel good.

“For me that is what it’s all about, I want to make swimwear and clothes that people feel good in.”

It was such a successful summer that Ainsleigh decided to reinvest profits to rebrand and expand the business into Wander Doll – to take in a full range of clothing rather than the seasonal-based Beach and Winter Doll collections.

Launching as Wander Doll in September 2019, the new range includes sophisticated dresses and a range of vegan leather fashions and separates as well as the hugely popular loungewear range.

Ainsleigh also credits her boyfriend, Joe Sutherland, with spurring her on with the venture – he’s now on board as partner too.

She says: “He’s the most supportive person, from the start he would stay up all night packing parcels for me.

“He owns his own business too so I think it helps that we are both so driven.

“We are both born-and-bred Salford from working class backgrounds and we know how to work hard.”

The brand has being doing so well they were able to move to bigger offices in Worsley, where Wander Doll has its own photographic studio for fashion shoots.

And while there is plenty of competition in the online fashion world, Ainsleigh believes what sets her apart is that she’s NOT trying to compete with fast fashion – instead focusing on quality pieces.

She says: “I create staple pieces that people can wear again and again – I don’t want to make things that people just throw away.”

Ainsleigh, who studied acting at Salford University, credits her mum as her inspiration for working so hard.

She says: “I’m not from a business background. My mum had me very young, when she was just 16 – and has always worked so hard and encouraged me to go and get my degree and to work hard too.

“From a young girl I’ve always wanted to make something of myself, I’ve always loved fashion, and I love to learn.

“Even when it came to making my website, I hate technology, but when I got a quote for how much it would cost I just went on the internet and learned how to make my own website.”

She adds: “I feel so lucky, and fortunate, but I don’t stop – I work seven days a week, I’ve sacrificed my 20s for this but my mum says it will all be worth it in the end.”

And what’s next for the brand?

Ainsleigh says: “To grow grow grow! Clothing is extremely competitive but we hope to keep organically growing as we are so passionate and love what we do.

“Literally as soon as we launch a new collection now it sells out, so the challenge is trying to keep up with demand.

“Wander Doll is all about clothing with a purpose- designed to be worn by all women and to make them feel their absolute best

“It’s still nowhere near where I want to be but it’s all so exciting, it’s gone from literally the kitchen table and now we’re in this huge warehouse.”