Fashion student to revamp London pop-up charity store for Christmas



Crisis pop-up

A Heriot-Watt student is to transform a prominent London building, temporarily entrusted to the national homelessness charity, Crisis, into a Christmas pop-up shop, aptly named Pop-Up Crisis.

Ema Ester, 20, originally from Croatia but who now lives in the Scottish Borders town of Galashiels, has reimagined the frontage and interior of a former police station on 27 Savile Row in Central London after winning Crisis’ annual Christmas Pop-Up Branding, Marketing and Promotions Competition. 

Now in its fourth year, the competition challenges students from across the UK to unleash their creativity and convert the once vacant premises into an eye-catching retailing space for the annual pop-up which sees designer brands donate womenswear, menswear, gifts and accessories in a bid to raise vital funds to help end homelessness.

It is a genuine thrill to have one of our students win a national prize.

Catherine Clark, Assistant Professor 

The second year Fashion Branding and Promotion student, based at the University’s School of Textiles and Design at Galashiels, wowed judges with her graffiti art concept that celebrates British cities and youth culture. It promises to deliver a colourful and energetic twist when it opens to the public today (Dec 4).

After learning that she had won the main prize, Ema said: “It was an amazing feeling. Crisis were really pleased with what I had produced and they have been amazing at keeping me involved. We've had video calls and emails and they're they've just been great with me and very supportive.

“I’ve been working on this competition for around two months and it’s been a lot of fun to apply what I’ve learnt in the classroom and incorporating this into the real world.

“My lecturers have been extremely supportive. They've helped throughout the whole process and have always been available to answer questions. It’s been a great experience.”

Launched in August, this year’s competition was open to second and final year students across the UK who are studying a related course in marketing, communications, branding, business or promotion.

Entrants were tasked with creating the branding, marketing and promotional ideas for Crisis Pop-Up whilst incorporating charity’s 2023 Christmas strap line ‘Life Beyond Homelessness’.

Ema’s submission was described as exceptional by the judges and she is now working alongside the charity to bring her creative vision to life.

Ema added: “Crisis has put me in touch with the graffiti artist who is going to bring this to life and we’re working out plans for me to go down to London for the big unveil.

“I can’t wait to see it.”

Crisis aims to raise more than £125,000 in sales from Pop-Up Crisis to aid those experiencing homelessness. 

The store will sell brand new products, old season stock, flawed items, samples from luxury brands, as well as public donations.

Congratulating Ema on her achievement are Heriot-Watt lecturers’, Catherine Clark and Dr Ania Drzewiecka who chose to collaborate on the project across courses taken by the Fashion Branding and Promotion students.

Catherine said: “It is a genuine thrill to have one of our students win a national prize. Excelling in a real-world challenge like this fills us with immense pride in our students.

“This achievement is testament to the creativity and strategic thinking that we aim to install in all our students. The competition, hosted by Crisis, provided a unique platform for our budding talents to showcase their skills and make a positive impact in the community.”

Dr Drzewiecka adds: “Ema’s success highlights the power of collaborative efforts across courses, showcasing our students’ ability to seamlessly integrate skills and excel in interdisciplinary projects. Congratulations to Ema for the well-deserved recognition.”

Crisis will display Ema’s creations until December 14.

Georgina Evans, Head of Retail at Crisis, said: “We were blown away by all the submissions for this year’s competition but Ema’s was definitely the stand out concept. It captures the nature of Crisis’ Pop-Up brilliantly and will provide the perfect backdrop for shoppers looking to support people experiencing homelessness this Christmas.

“It has been fantastic working closely with Ema to bring her designs to life and to make sure they work well in the space. We’re really looking forward to seeing the Pop-Up launch next week and welcoming people in to raise vital funds for Crisis, while they view Ema’s designs in place.”

Crisis’ Christmas Pop-Up shop has raised more than £300,000 over three years, helping thousands of people experiencing homelessness to get the skills and opportunities they need to put homelessness behind them for good.

Heriot-Watt has led pioneering research on homelessness and destitution that influences UK government policy in addressing the problem.


Craig Philip

Job title
Communications officer