IT is a conundrum many Scottish graduates face. When many of the best job opportunities are in London, should you uproot your life to pursue a dream career there?

For Vivienne Lynch, the 25-year-old founder of luxury lingerie brand Miss Vivienne, there was a simple solution to this problem. Instead of moving to achieve her goal of becoming a fashion designer, she simply created a dream job for herself in Scotland.

Raised in Newton Mearns, near Glasgow, Ms Lynch moved to Galashiels to study Fashion at Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design, and quickly fell in love with the relaxed pace of life in the Scottish Borders.

But as her university career progressed, and she realised that lingerie design was her area of expertise, it became apparent that the best opportunities in that industry were located hundreds of miles away.

“I did an internship in London, to try and gauge what it would be like to live and work there, but it wasn’t for me,” she explains. “It was a lot of work for very little money; there is an expectation that you must sacrifice a lot to get your foot in the door. And I just thought that there must be a better way to do what I love.

“When I graduated, I was offered a job as a Studio Assistant for a fashion brand in London, with a £15,000 salary. I don’t even understand how you would pay rent in London with that!”

Unwilling to sacrifice the life she had built in Galashiels, Ms Lynch decided to test the waters and try to sell the lingerie she had designed for her final-year university project.

“For our fourth year collection they had asked us to build a mini-brand. I created the ‘Miss Vivienne’ logo, packaging, website and then I thought, since I had all that ready to go, I could post on my Instagram and Facebook page to ask if anyone wanted some garments made. I got loads of messages and things grew arms and legs from there.

“There has never been a point when I have said, ‘I’m going to build a business’ or ‘I’m going to invest a certain amount of money’, things have just grown organically.

“When I started Miss Vivienne I was working in a high-street store part-time, so I weaned myself off my retail job and gradually reduced my shifts as I went along. I was then able to invest that extra time into the brand’s social media pages, which helped the business take off.”

Ms Lynch also acknowledges that while starting a business fresh out of university was undoubtedly intimidating, she was helped by the fact that studio rents in Melrose were a fraction of what they would be in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

“Financially, it is really scary to go it alone with a business, but I had that safety net of having lower costs. My ultimate ambition is to have a big studio here in the Borders, providing lots of jobs for local people and creating a great atmosphere for people to come to work.”

Further expansion certainly seems likely. Miss Vivienne is already proving to be a serious challenger to established lingerie brands like Agent Provocateur, with its ethically-produced, sustainably-sourced collections selling out in under an hour when the online shop opens each month.

“My lead time for orders is 21 days, so I open the website, take 21 days’ worth of orders and then close it again when that target is hit. I currently have three women working for me and my plan this year is to get more staff so that I can open the shop more regularly. I get customers from Australia, America, Japan ... it is quite amazing.”

And while sales of eveningwear took a hit during the last year when we were forced to stay at home, Ms Lynch has found the lingerie market to be booming.

“To be honest, the pandemic has helped the business. I think because people were online a lot more customers found my website. And while people aren’t spending their money on going-out dresses, one thing that we are all still wearing is underwear, so a lot of people treated themselves.

“Plus, lingerie is really empowering. I have customers telling me how much of a difference it makes, mentally, when they get ready in the morning and put on a nice lingerie set. They tell me that they had a job interview, and when they put on their Miss Vivienne underwear it made them feel more confident and powerful. I think that’s amazing, especially for such a tiny garment.”

As the reputation of Miss Vivienne continues to grow, Ms Lynch’s personal journey should also help build young women’s confidence: proving that it is possible to find success outside of the ‘London bubble’.

“When I used to tell people that I wanted to be a fashion designer, their response was usually along the lines of ‘yeah, sure you will’. But here I am, proving them wrong!”