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University Students Show ‘Bags’ of Initiative


Young Enterprise in partnership with Ulster University, awards Mala bags, a company set up by students at Ulster University Belfast Campus Start Up Company of the year.

After identifying lack of pockets in womenswear, and limited availability of functional bags/pockets for ease of use working in certain areas like pattern cutting, the team of designers created a business making sustainable, ethically sourced and locally made bags, pocket-bags and other accessories as a solution. Design, functionality and minimalism are at the heart of their bag designs and they want each bag to feel bespoke and personal to their customers – something worth cherishing but also something completely functional and useful every day. 

Judging this year’s finalists were Charlene Armour, founder of Armour Legal Software, and Lisa Donaldson, Co-Founder of Snack at Franks – two fantastic local start-up entrepreneurs who shared their experience & insights with the finalists.

“It was clear to us all that the finalists had really benefitted from being involved in the Start Up programme. They were able to articulate the skills and confidence they had gained from being involved. As design students, our overall winners were able to draw on these skills to ensure a beautiful product with a variety of functional purposes. They had clearly segmented their customer base to profile and understand specific needs, adjusting the product to their needs” 

Lisa Donaldson Co-Founder of Snack at Franks.

Start Up Judges

“2020 marks the 3rd year our ‘Start Up’ programme has been delivered across all four Ulster University campuses.  We are delighted to continue to foster a culture of enterprise amongst University students to offer practical, real world experience in developing and running their own venture developing the skills employers are looking for, such as teamwork, creative thinking, planning, budgeting, marketing, design and project management. Mala Eco-Bags will now go on to represent Northern Ireland at the UK finals in June and we wish them all the luck in the world” 

Carol Fitzsimons MBE, Young Enterprise NI CEO.

Check out Mala Bags on Instagram

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