Bradford mums invent ingenious magnets to keep your graduation gowns in place

No more safety pins

Two enterprising inventors have created magnets to hold your graduation gown in place. 

The crushing pain and inconvenience of pinning your slipping graduation hood with safety pins could soon be eliminated from our collective consciousness.

The Graduation Magnetar, created by Bradford mums Mary Armitage and Jackie Smith, is a nifty invention to hold your gown together with “a vice like grip” for the whole day using magnets and recycled polymer.

Mary, one of the creators of the Graduation Magnetar, explained: “My daughter Bridie graduated in 2013 and we had such an ace day, we were so proud of her. She was valedictorian and had to do a speech at Bath Abbey.

“It was an immense day but she had a lot of trouble with her academic gown and the hood – she’d got herself this nice dress and the pins were going through the dress.

“I looked around and lots of people looked very dishevelled, lots of them were holding onto their hood.

“It was a fantastic day but any stress that was part of the day was caused by the academic dress.”

It was on holiday after her daughter’s graduation when Mary had her “eureka moment” and put the idea into production with school friend Jackie in 2013, starting their company Cecile Biot.

She said: “We thought it would be a nice magnetic way of holding the hood and then we wouldn’t have to use pins. And we thought maybe if it was nice you might want to keep it and give it to someone who supported you but couldn’t go to graduation.”

The magnets, which were available at Bradford and Leeds universities this summer, can be customised with the logo and crest of each university and can be kept as a keepsake of the day similar to cufflinks or signet rings.

Mary and Jackie, Cecile Biot creators


Mary says: “One lecturer at Bradford brought them home this year to put on his nana’s fridge.”

“Obviously going to university is an expensive thing and we wanted to come up with something that was affordable. We looked at the gown hire companies but they make a lot of money already so we’re trying to do it with going through the student unions, or the universities themselves.

“Some of the gown hire companies have now put velcro in but it doesn’t work it’s not very effective.”

“You can buy or hire a set of magnets – they attach the hood to the gown so it doesn’t slip off your shoulders or pull up to strangle you. They’re made from recycled polymer and they’re made right here in Yorkshire.”

The magnets are expected to have a £6.99 price point, or can be hired, for example at Leeds, where they were hired for only £2 with a £5 deposit.

The company are also considering expansion into more luxury items, with magnets that can be kept and even used as jewellery.