Put simply, no. I wanted to work with animals. I originally set out to be a zoo keeper or save monkey’s and tiger’s, but it soon became clear that my weekend job would not fund such adventurous travels and decided my input should be more along the lines of: become a vegetarian, share an article on Facebook, or adopt a captive capuchin monkey, that sort of thing.
I did entertain the idea by completing work experience at a zoo, but it was November and I hate the cold so that was enough to convince myself that I would need a role that was more indoorsy.
I remember my mum offering one piece of career advice and that was to ‘choose something that you enjoy, because you’ll be doing it for a long time’, which out of all of her advice was pretty good.
Flicking through a university prospectus in the school common room as an impressionable 16 year old, I saw that fashion design was an actual course with the potential to learn something. I’d always been creative and crafty but it also meant that I could leave Norwich, so to me it was a win win.
Like many others, I had taken out a substantial student loan to pay for the entire 4 years, so in my mind I couldn’t waste it. My attitude was.. I pay £X in tuition a year, so I’m after every bit of knowledge I can from the tutors! I remember in the final year one tutor had brought in a pattern cutter from Vivienne Westwood who would help out for one day a week and anytime she saw that he was not being used she would be thinking ‘that’s £1, £2, £3.. being wasted’, basically he was expensive and his time was limited so use him.
I was looking for a career that I enjoyed; something I could live on and maybe see a bit more of the world. I’m fortunate that my work has led me to some incredible places, but it’s through doing what I enjoy.
If you’ve read this far and would like my advice, it would be to grab every opportunity, stay late at the studio, be the first one there to make use of the tutors attention before the rest start bombarding them, intern in the holidays and work at the weekends. These are the experiences that stay with you and are invaluable in the industry.