Credit: Gino Cinganelli

Meet our Champions: Jatin Patel

 
To help tell the Creative Estuary story we are delighted to have the support of our Champions to advocate for us and amplify our vision. Our Champions are drawn from many walks of life, reflecting our diverse and inclusive creative region, but all strongly support the Creative Estuary vision and ambition.

We want you to get to know our Champions better and so we sat down for a series of fascinating conversations to allow them to give us an insight into their role and involvement in Creative Estuary, what their aspirations are for the project are and their love for our stunning estuary.

Jatin Patel’s passion for the creative industries, Medway and sustainable fashion is contagious. His masterpieces can be found on catwalks around the world, but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten his roots. Having studied and now living and working in Rochester, he is engaged tirelessly to promote the region as a creative business hub. We are privileged to have Jatin on board and also thrilled to announce that since our interview, Jatin has been appointed co-chair of the board of trustees driving forward Medway’s 2025 City of Culture bid.

Tell us about your current role/s:

I call myself a creative entrepreneur.  I’m a creative director and a fashion designer. As well as designing exquisite items of clothing and accessories, I work with my supply chain to identify and create new approaches to environmentally friendly and sustainable fabrics and practices. 

I have pivoted further into the world of Culture and I was part of the small cohort that created the New 10 year Medway Cultural strategy during the 2020 pandemic and lockdowns.  This was integral to the New Creative Medway Compact structure of the 5 working groups and central compact to which I was elected as Spaces and Places Champion. 

I am very proud that I am also on the board of trustees for the Bid for UK cultural city 2025 and of course Champion for Creative Estuary!

All these roles are instrumental in playing my role in helping to rebuild and It Really Is about collaboration and utilising Creativity to open dialogue and raise awareness of the critical issues and topics that we all face including the climate to implement creative thinking and solutions to make some serious long-lasting change for the better.

What is your involvement in Creative Estuary:

I arrived in Medway some 20 odd years ago to pursue an education in Fashion at UCA and Rochester is now my home. I am involved to not only encourage other creatives to set up in Creative Estuary but also demonstrate to the next generation of creatives what they can achieve – anything! 

Without sounding egotistical, I want to show what can be achieved with hard work, dedication, courage and some seriously long hours, blood, sweat and tears…what can be accomplished with where we are and with what we have…and what potentially we could be

Also, I am an ambassador for the creative industries. I am increasingly getting involved with projects to support and grow the industry. When I do this, I take every opportunity to wave the flag for the project and get as many cross-disciplinary collaborations in place.

Why did you say “yes” to becoming one of our champions?

I have a passion for making Medway better, and I believe Creative Estuary can make this happen. I am fortunate that I am able to use my voice to help shape and change the Thames Estuary for creatives for the better.

It is a chance to take my ambitions and turn them into realities – Made in England!

To you, what is the biggest draw of the Estuary for creatives?

The real draw to Creative Estuary is the support system. It has and is creating the infrastructure where creatives can move away from the cottage industry image into a revenue-generating business.

It is not about gentrification. It is about helping and supporting the people already in the region along with inviting creatives and partners to support from afar to collaborate and create thriving creative communities that are self-sustainable really aiding in local regeneration raising aspirations and ambitions

It’s about establishing and connecting the network of creatives, communities and culture from grassroots to international standard and all in between to new opportunities and experiences. 

Over 2020, as a result of the pandemic, the concept of “place” has changed. How are the creative industries adapting and/or how can Creative Estuary help?

The impact of the pandemic on our industry has been significant. It’s been truly demoralising and demotivating. And it’s been difficult. 

Creative Estuary is helping to give hope and focus. The concept of “place” has changed, but we aren’t going to stay locked down forever and when we start to establish our future ways of working having a home for creative industries along the Thames Estuary is going to be very welcome. 

It wasn’t good for the creative industries when content was put on and broadcast or streamed for nothing, but what it highlighted was the love for cultural and creatives experiences by the UK population and how brilliant we are at it. We can continue to adapt by using shared spaces and building new skills and opportunities here as part of the Creative Estuary.

One of our aims is for the Creative Estuary to be a place to inspire (investment, enterprise and productivity). What inspires you about Creative Estuary?

What I find inspiring about the project is the endless possibilities and the communities we can create to support others when they need to take risks. We’re not just talking about a few like-minded individuals we’re talking about an entire industry that has the same challenges as others such as recovering from the pandemic, future skills and sustainability. Creative Estuary is going to put in place the non-tangible infrastructure and support networks to make this all possible.

One of my areas of focus at the moment is sustainable materials and technology, I’m working with fabric manufacturers to develop garments and products from sustainable sources such as pineapple husk – it’s incredible stuff! Imagine if they were local to me here on the Thames Estuary; we’d have the fabric design and production, clothing design and finally the manufacturing all here. Working collaboratively. Working creatively. Working towards a greener, cleaner fairer world. 

We’re going to be able to help individual creatives as well as businesses to take the next step and move from a cottage industry to a mainstream industry, but to do so without losing their values and independence. 

I can wax lyrical about this for hours! It’s a very exciting and inspiring time.

In the process of investigating, creating and developing a sustainable production Hub for fashion design and smart manufacturing for Made in England right here in the Estuary. To upskill and create employment by reskilling and training for employment in the manufacture of clothing for other British brands along with Kalikas Armour and are looking for exciting external partners that can support the growth and expansion 

Our champions are drawn from across creative, education, development and finance industries. They reflect the inclusivity we want to grow with the development. What are your views of diversity & inclusivity in the creative industries and therefore the Creative Estuary project?

There are some areas that are in need of regeneration but in order for that to be sustainable and make a real difference it needs to be end-to-end, and the communities impacted need to be included in the projects. Creative Estuary is doing just that. What you and all those involved are doing, by the very nature of the integrated and broad range of investments – from training and installations to festivals and planning proposals.  

In my view and lived experience, inclusivity and Diversity need to be standard practices for us all and not some buzz, words to scream and shout that enhance a brand or companies image. It has to be implemented for real so that it really makes an impactful change…With this growth, we are perfectly placed to ensure these strong foundations of equality, equity, openness and transparency are laid for the future to be built on….leaving that as a legacy 

What is your favourite place on the Thames Estuary?

My home. I live in a converted 200-year-old Napoleonic Fort, and it is perfectly positioned, as you’d expect, to be able to see the best of the surrounding areas. From the roof and out of my windows I can see the estuary, Rochester Castle and the cathedral all green and natural, but then juxtaposed with the urbanisation and human impact on the stunning landscape of Medway.  It’s a great place – definitely my favourite place along the Thames Estuary.

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