Blog originally posted on: 8/7/2015 I studied fashion full time for five years at three different colleges. In the past six years I have taught either pattern cutting, garment construction or design at seven colleges at various levels from absolute beginner to budding designers at degree level. Not all colleges are the same and choosing the right organisation to help achieve your goals is very important, (e.g. If you want pursue a very creative or ‘Avant Garde’ route, then choosing a college whose focus on the commercial side of fashion will not be a good fit and vice versa).
Always visit the potential college and ask LOTS of questions!
Talk to the students.. NOT the ones the college select as examples on an open day - they will only tell you what the organisation want you to hear. Try to speak to students as you move around the college.
Questions you should ask include:
How many students will be in each class (count how many sewing machines are in the machine room, if there are less than the amount of students in the class be aware that this will cause access issues during future sessions).
Example: If there are thirty students and one tutor, how many technicians are available? There are a lot of hands-on technical skills that you need to learn for fashion, one person cannot fully support thirty students.
How many guided learning hours will there be?
What resources are provided by the college? Be aware that not all sites have library or computer access.
If the college says it has Computer Aided Design (CAD) resources, ask how regularly you will have access to them. On the tour for my Higher National Diploma course (HND - now known as a Foundation Degree), I was shown a pattern cutting CAD system. During the course we given access to use the systems for two short modules twice in the two years of the course. As a class, we left without the relevant CAD skills needed to empower us in finding work once we graduated.
For levels 2 and 3, ask how many students progress to higher levels.
For level 4, 5 and 6 ask how many graduates have gone on to find PAID work in the fashion industry, excluding retail.
One last thing! Remember if you choose to do a fashion course it is NOT an easy option. Garment construction equipment and materials, art equipment, the requisite books and stationary... A Fashion course is not cheap. I have seen FAR too many students overwhelmed by what is involved in doing a fashion course.
You will be learning a wide range of disciplines and you will also have to write about your work. If you think this is the route you want to take, I recommend trying out a short course to see if it is what you really really want (yes, I just quoted the Spice Girls ! )
Some colleges that might interest you.
Highest ranking Universities for fashion in the UK.
Blog originally posted: 22/7/2015 I was originally going to title this blog” So you wanna be a freelancer” which made me think of the “So you wanna be a boxer “ song from Bugsy Malone….and then I watched the film for the zillionth time ….oops rambling ,back on track.
In the fashion industry lots of us choose to freelance rather than have one permanent job. The reasons are vast including:
Flexibility; being able to work the days and times you choose.
Varity; having the opportunity to work with a wide range of companies and products.
A second income; to fund a business or boost your income from a main job.
There are some disadvantages though
No financial security, you can sometimes go weeks, or in my case during the height of the recession, months without work. You need to ensure you put money aside for the quiet times.
No holiday or sick pay, again you need to set money aside.
The biggest issue you will come across as a freelancer? BAD PAYERS…( Booooo hisssss…grrrrrrrr)…..yep I have had to deal with a few of those. Sadly this is one of the most common problems freelancing within the fashion Industry. Here are some tips to try and avoid this happening
BEFORE doing any work for a new company, get them to sign a terms and agreements document stating penalties if payments are not made on time. Make sure you keep digital AND hard copies
Invoice weekly; companies are more likely to pay small invoices quicker than bigger ones.
Ensure all invoices are emailed to ensure you have documented proof that cannot be lost.
If an invoice has not been paid on time contact the client immediately to chase the payment.
Have a cut off amount; if they reach the figure and have not paid, don’t do anymore work for them until they have and STICK TO IT!
In my twelve years of freelancing I have only had to take one company to court that had no intention of paying me for my work. I won the case but they still didn’t pay up, so I set High Court Enforcement Officers on them using the Sheriffs Office. Check them out!
I have had the pleasure of working with some really talented…and sometimes a bit loopy (but hey I guess all creatives are a bit strange) people and companies. Freelance is also a good way to test drive companies you may possibly want to work for as an employee.
Freelancing is not for everyone, but if you are looking for a flexible way to earn a living and like the idea of working on new projects, products and with different teams on a regular bases then perhaps you should give it a try.
Is it a coincidence that my first blog after my break is on procrastination……Nope! I am soooo in procrastination zone. My home is currently pretty organised! I have now seen the entire first season of Agent Carter and taken a waltz down memory lane watching a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly….and I am now at the day I should be posting my blog!
We all have those moments…where we know we should be getting on with something, but find anything else to do but that “thing”. Not sure why this is. There are times I am in the studio and I drift off into my own thoughts and then get annoyed with myself for wasting time. It’s worst when I work from home …….most popular distractions are….I have a pile of washed clothes that need folding away…or trying to decide what to eat while staring at what I have in the fridge ...and number 1 distraction for me .....internet research.....What's yours? The thing that usually gets me out of procrastinationville (yep that’s a word now) is setting myself deadlines, or telling someone I am going to do something. By doing this it makes me accountable. Other times I just ride the procrasterwave (new word!) because I know it will pass.