Junior fashion designer Emma has plenty of work experience and a degree in fashion – but she says her determination played a big part in getting her to where she is today. In fact, she got her current job by calling QUIZ clothing to tell them why they should hire her...
Name: Emma Kenyon
Company: QUIZ Clothing
Job role: Junior fashion designer
Length of time in role: 5 years
Degrees: Fashion design from Northumbria University
Foundation degree in Art & Design from Newcastle College
A-levels: Textiles, psychology, English language
1. What was your very first job?
My very first job was in a balloon shop. I was in a customer facing role as part of my employment here where I developed my confidence with the general public and learnt more about the retail industry.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I have always wanted to be a fashion designer, but for a short time (after watching Legally Blonde!) I wanted to be a human rights lawyer.
3. How did you find out about the industry?
The subjects I studied taught me a lot about the fashion industry and junior fashion designer jobs. For example, during my fashion design degree we learned about the history of the fashion world and supply chains, and the effects of external factors on creative practice. I also improved my cultural awareness in relation to fashion.
However, it wasn’t until I had work experience at fashion companies that I learned about production/pattern cutting and CAD design in the kind of detail you need.
In my internship at House of Holland my role was a design assistant. I learnt pattern cutting and garment manufacturing. I also took an active role in model fittings and pattern alterations, which really developed my skills in the area.
Following this, I completed a five-month internship with John Lewis where I worked with design programmes to produce mood, trend and customer boards to help with inspiration and design. I also began creating garment specification sheets, colour matching and generating pattern fills. This internship gave me some great experience in womenswear, childrenswear and menswear. It also developed my confidence through liaising with different parts of the supply chain.
4. How did you get to where you are today?
I think my degree and work experience are two of the key things that helped me get to where I am today. I also have a lot of determination and this certainly helped!
My knowledge of the industry and experience in different areas was valuable to QUIZ as a forward-thinking fashion brand with junior fashion designer jobs. I also had learnt a lot about CAD designs, print designs and alterations in my previous role and all of these aspects have proved valuable for me.
To get this job I actually rang the headquarters and told them that I thought I’d be a great addition to their team. Even though they weren’t recruiting for this position at the time, I secured two interviews and carried out a presentation in front of the decision makers. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box to progress!
5. What is a typical day like?
A lot of my day consists of keeping up to date with what the customer wants right now. We do this by observing the response to clothing on the catwalk and analysing customer trends and product sales. I also take a lot of inspiration from luxury brands and transforming the concepts into pieces suitable for our target audience. QUIZ understand how to strike a balance between style and affordability. Understanding consumer behavior and research is a big part of this.
It’s important that I stay up to date with industry news and I use this to design interpretations and present them to QUIZ’s buying team for further development. My role is key to what you see on our website and in our stores!
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing styles that I have worked on selling well in the shops, or – even better – seeing someone wearing something I’ve designed!
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The main challenge I face is the predictions I have to make for the styles next year. Although some products might get a good response on the catwalk, it might not be a piece that people actually want to own themselves. I have to strike the balance between high-end luxury and high-street and this is a difficult (but enjoyable!) task for me.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
Get work experience across all areas of your industry: I can’t stress this enough! To go into any job with a strong understanding of how the system works is so important.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
Not to put so much pressure on myself. Hard work pays off.
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I would like to be managing a team of designers.