From College to curating a New York collection
A former student has created a design house with a collection of more than 50,000 antique fabric swatches and wallpaper brought from New York, thanks to a contact she made at Stockport College.
Cheryl O’Meara was studying our Surface Pattern HND when she travelled to a United States design show with then-lecturer Anne Mackinnon in 1997. There, Anne introduced her to the original owner of the collection, Marlene Goldstein.
By then, budding designer Cheryl had already sold her own pattern at a work placement organised by the College with the design team at Crown Paint and won a national design competition with another Stockport College student, which secured her a job with Royal Worcester Porcelain.
Anne encouraged her to apply for a job with Marlene and, within a year of graduating, Cheryl was flying over the Atlantic to set up a design studio and work on the archive that used to inspire top designers such as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen and Victoria’s Secret.
“Whether it has been further education or higher education, it has been a great experience for me. I'm just a working class girl with humble roots. With hard work and dedication I've worked my way to the top, I work with brands such as Alexander McQueen, M&S and Boden, and I've just started a wallpaper brand. The sky is the limit!” Cheryl said, who came from a background in Foundation Art.
“One of the highlights of Stockport College was working on the 6th floor where you could see out over the Peaks, painting. When you get into industry, you don’t have time for that any more. That, and the community, the students and teachers. I have many really happy memories.
“It was a real time for growth and confidence. When I arrived at Stockport, I remember sitting in a bus shelter after my first lesson thinking ‘can I do this?’, but then a few months later I had won a design award and was off to New York.”
Developing the confidence to take these decisions had such an impact on Cheryl that she made a point of coming back to Stockport College talk to new intakes of students, and go on to mentor young women.
“I love motivating and exciting students about work. When you get your confidence you really can fly. It’s all about giving you the space to have a go. Everyone has creativity in that kind of place. I always say two things: don't be afraid to fail, so what, you'll learn something or you'll be successful (hopefully both!) and secondly, to go for it, somebody's got to do it, why not you?”
Now back in Greater Manchester, Cheryl has carefully curated The Archive and design studio which is now housed at Salford’s Islington Mill. Her new online shop sells her new wallpaper and fabric ranges. She plans to launch the new brand Print Pattern Archive at London Design Week in September.
The Archive, which consists of pieces dating from the 1800s to the 1980s, has inspired top designers Alexandra McQueen and Barbour. Since launching her own design business, Cheryl has been working with Laura Ashley, architects Squid Inc and created a bespoke wallpaper design for Sylvia’s Space room at Manchester Museum.
For more about Cheryl, The Archive or for more information about her new ranges visit