I spent all of my secondary school years at AGS and I loved every minute of it! There weren’t many subjects that I didn’t enjoy, I just wanted to learn as much as possible. I never liked being pigeon holed into one particular area and because of this the age old ‘what do you want to be when you are older?’ was a very difficult question for me to answer. At the time of choosing my A-levels I wanted to be a transportation designer so I chose Physics, Art, Design Technology and to mix it up a bit English Literature. It wasn’t until I did a work experience placement at a wood turners that I found out about The Inkberrow Design Centre (a fashion centre) I had never thought about a career in fashion before but walking through their doors made me realise what I had been missing! While doing my first year at A-Level I did a City & Guild qualification in pattern cutting (applying the Maths that I had learnt at GCSE). As the year went on I realised that this is where I wanted my career to go, into the Fashion Industry.
I never really felt the ‘pull’ to go to University, so when I left the Grammar I took a year out to decide and I went back to The Inkberrow Design Centre (IDC) to do a foundation year where I gained 7 City and Guilds in a variety of areas within the fashion and textile industry. By the end of the year I had made up my mind about University, it was not for me but I continued at IDC for another two years completing an HND in Fashion and Textiles. I feel that what I learnt in those years far surpassed anything I would have gained at University and there is never a time that I regret my educational path.
I was lucky enough to get a teaching position at IDC after I finished my HND however as it was only part time I also gained employment at H&M where I worked my way up to Department Manager. I continued with this for 6 years, until finally I made the decision to go self-employed and start my own business. I had been putting it off for too long but I finally got over my fear and jumped right in. I had amazing support from Brenda Killigrew (the director of IDC) which was vital to me succeeding and I am now about to celebrate my second year of running my own business!
I still have the same feelings about being pigeon holed as when I did at school so I have accrued a range of positions. I run my own menswear tailoring and accessory business, as well as teaching Fashion, Tailoring, Pattern Cutting, Millinery and Fashion Illustration. I am also in charge of the qualification paperwork, registering students, Internally Verifying work and writing schemes of work and lesson plans.
Monday: I am up early every day so it is a 6:30 start for me so I can walk my dog before heading to work. I get to the office for 8:00 and Mondays are my IDC admin days, what I do can vary from week to week covering marking students work, completing paperwork, writing online millinery modules and schemes of work, updating the social media for the company and anything else that is given to me. I finish my admin and head over to the studios for 16:00 where I begin my teaching, I have one class from 16:00 to 18:00 and then another one straight after and finishing at 20:30.
Tuesday: I get to the studio for 8:00 where I prep the room for the day’s lesson and go over my lesson plan. The students arrive at 9:00 where I begin teaching Fashion and Pattern Cutting and they finish at 16:00. I have a short 15 minute break before teaching my evening class of recreational sewing which is from 16:30 to 20:00.
Wednesday – Friday: These days are slightly less structured as I am working for myself and not IDC. At the moment I am working on pattern cutting and constructing samples for a new menswear label based in the Midlands and my own bespoke orders of a wedding dress and 3 bridesmaid dresses. I either work in the studios or from home and I will be working from 8:00 to around 19:00 each day.
Saturday: A day off!!! Very Exciting!!
Sunday: Every other Sunday I teach the Millinery qualification so I am at the studio for 9:00 to prep the room and I begin teaching at 10:00 until 16:00.
This is pretty much a normal week however there are always things that crop up and you have to adjust to accommodate for example covering a lesson, going out for training, talking to prospective students etc. Going self-employed has been one of the best decisions of my life and yes it is difficult and it does include long hours but I get to do such a variety of things that I never get bored. I would say it is harder to gain a work/life balance but it isn’t impossible, by planning my weeks thoroughly I always give myself time off and I have learnt the power of saying ‘no’ sometimes.
The advice I would give anyone is to never doubt yourself, listen to what your heart says. I decided to not go to University against my parent’s wishes and I entered one of the most competitive industries in the world!! Taking a different path can be quite intimidating and yes you have to make sacrifices but anything that you truly want to do requires that passion and det