A co-worker of mine once told me she cherishes three major key advices from her former Senior Designer and it always stuck by her to this day. When my co-worker revealed her go-to advice (I will not mention her advices publicly anytime soon until her book is launched, #girlbossmoves!) , it reminded me of the experiences I have been through and the lessons I have learned in order to become a better (and self sufficient) Associate Designer.
Reminiscing back to my intern/Design Assistant days, these are the “words of wisdom” I have come to develop when young designers ask me how they can take their career to the next level.
USE YOUR WORK RESOURCES TO THE FULLEST.
Is your company giving away trims or development samples they do not need any more? Do you have access to fashion forecasting websites? Take advantage of such exclusivity especially if you’re beginning to update your portfolio.
If your company has given you permission to keep a development sample/fabric yardage that would eventually be tossed, holding onto them would result in physical examples of printed digital artwork or embroidery designs you have created past seasons to be included in your portfolio. Providing such items can function as great evidence to show off previous work you have done.
Access to such opportunities to enhance or better your portfolio should never go to waste and you can optimize your creativity instead of spending time during lunch hours/after work inside fabric stores searching for swatches/trims to place into your design collections.
2. STAY CONNECTED WITH FORMER FASHION CLASSMATES & CO-WORKERS.
Many think/view the fashion industry as this big pool of creative people, however, it’s surprisingly the size of a pond and when you change from workplace to workplace, your former and current co-workers have most likely worked together at some point.
When fashion companies are looking for designers to join their team, they are heavily encouraging their team members to inform any of their fashion design friends to apply for a job- it makes the search for the perfect candidate a bit easier especially when working for well-known designers/brands. You make that direct connection and from there you’re immediately setting up an interview.
It’s important to stay connected with your former classmates/co-workers, it can be seen as redundant/cliché advice but in reality that’s how the industry works. My suggestion to remain such connections is setting up coffee dates to meet up in person and catch up- it simplifies picking out a place & you can meet for a couple of minutes instead of full-on hours especially if you’re a person with a busy schedule.
3. IN EVERY DESIGN JOB, TAKE ON LEARNING A NEW SKILL- YOU’RE FUTURE DESIGNER SELF WILL APPRECIATE IT.
We have a Senior Designer on our team and from her previous job, she’s learned how to cost samples, recolor/edit prints & understands what to communicate with the technical design team when involved in fittings. Such skills come in handy especially when interacting with factories from overseas and making sure no one is pulling a “fast-one” on you. If a CAD artist is charging an amount that does not seem suitable for the work that was put into it, best believe our Senior Designer is asking questions and making sure our company is not being overcharge/taken advantage of.
As an Associate Designer, my knowledge of working with a design team has expanded. Currently, I have started to participate in fitting sessions and with the help of my Senior Designer, I am learning a lot about the technical design field and their interaction with the factory. I now have a basic understanding of how many fitting samples it should take before delivery and developing an eye for mistakes when it comes to the construction of the sample.
I have worked in the fashion industry as a designer for 4 years and as for my aspiring designers who are eager to land their first fashion job, I leave you young designers with my basic advice that took some time to develop while working for various design companies.
My biggest advice overall is to remain focus and always do your best, impressions in this industry are everything and whatever work habits you create, please understand that your teammates are taking mental notes.
Thanks & Best,