Sorry I’ve been a bit AWOL these last couple of weeks, no excuses, I just had a bit of writers block and was super busy.
So to resolve this issue I was having, I decided to do an Instagram poll and ‘how I got into fashion’ came out on top. Thank you to everyone who voted, so here it is…
Let me take you back to 16 year old me living in my hometown of Norfolk and in my final year of GCSE’s, thinking about my A-levels. If you have read my other blog post ‘Dear 10 Year Old Me’ then you’ll know I’m not the best when it comes to exams or my own self esteem at 16. Shout out to those who got their GCSE or A-level results this week, I’m sure you’ve all done amazingly well!
So upon deciding my A-levels, I was thinking about what to study and then where to go from there, do I go to university or not? I have always been a planner when it comes to my life, I’ve always thought a lot about where I want to see myself in the future.
I always enjoyed art and photography at school; I am a lot more creative than I am academic and I love colour in art, clothes and generally everything in life – colours make me happy. This is probably something to do with the fact I have Synesthesia which is a ‘condition’ where my brain sees every word and number as a colour – there’s lots of different forms but that’s basically how mine is (you can Google it for more info).
Anyway, I have also always been interested in business as well. I grew up with my parents owning several businesses which my dad first set up when he was 21. Then a couple of years later he met my mum who joined the company and now they own a large successful company with smaller businesses as well on the side. So watching my parents from a young age, I knew I wanted to go into some form of business and eventually (hopefully) be the CEO of a successful company; still my aim today.
So I thought long and hard and I realised, put both art/photography/fashion and business together and you pretty much get fashion buying & merchandising!
I bought lots of books about Fashion buying and merch when I was 16 and the more I read the more I thought this is totally for me. So that ended up being my goal all throughout Sixth Form and I became a lot more focused than GCSE’s as I had a clear goal in mind.
Then came university choices. I did apply for university to all 5 uni’s that offered fashion buying at the time which were Westminster, UCA Epsom, De Montfort Leceister, Southampton Solent and Manchester Metropolitan. I went and visited Southampton where the halls I look round were miserable. I spoke to this lovely girl who was on the buying course at the time, these were her words… ‘ so I basically have like 3 hours of lectures a week and then the rest of the time I like go shopping and like sleep really, it’s like super fun’. I replied with oh wow that sounds great whereas in my head I’m shouting ‘AND YOU ARE DOING THAT FOR 3 OR 4 YEARS AND SPENDING ALL THAT MONEY THAT’S GOING TO LEAVE YOU IN SO MUCH DEBT, NO THANK YOU!’.
So that was it, I had decided I am definitely NOT going to university. Shout out to that girl who without her I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today in my London flat having just finished work. I’m sure that girl (we’ll call her Melissa) had a great time at uni partying, making lots of memories and best friends forever but I wanted to get straight out there and start earning, I hate studying so why would I, by choice, endure another 4 years of it!
So anyway, I was starting to think of alternatives to uni, I could apply for an apprenticeship or get a foot on the ladder via interning (also expensive if you don’t get paid). Then just at the right time, one of my mum’s friends (also a fashion buyer) recommended The Fashion Retail Academy (LIGHTBULB!!). It had only just been running the last couple of years when I was 17 (2011/2) and was sponsored and set up by Phillip Green and Arcadia, M&S, John Lewis and Next. I didn’t need high grades to get in which is great for me, they did a 1 year diploma on fashion buying and merch (that course has now changed to separate buying and merch courses) and if you joined when you were under 19 then the course is free too!
So fast forward to A-level results day, I got good enough grades and I got accepted onto the course; LONDON HERE I COME!.
September 2012 I moved to London, lived in my own studio flat in Unite student accommodation and started at The FRA.
I really really enjoyed the course, I finally enjoyed studying as I knew I was learning something that was really going to help me in my career. I felt so connected to the industry as well; my tutor was and still is Head of Womenswear Buying at Selfridges.
I did two 3-week work placements; one at TM Lewin on menswear and one at BHS on shoes (poor BHS no more). Towards the end of the year, the college ran a careers fair where all the well known faces of the fashion industry; John Lewis, Karen Millen, Inditex (Zara etc), M&S, ASOS, Reiss and so on were there trying to find new graduates.
I spoke to a lot of HR departments and gave my CV to practically everyone trying to get interviews.
The summer of 2013 I graduated The FRA with my Level 4 Buying & Merchandising diploma and was ready with my CV up my sleeve for the rounds of interviews; applying for Buyers Admin Assistant roles.
I have always thought of myself as quite good at interviews, I’m confident and talkative so it didn’t scare me as such. However, it got rather frustrating after 2 months of interviews and no results. Everywhere I went companies told me I’m great but I’m too young, they didn’t trust that I’d be worth investing in as I was only 19 (most BA’s start when they are 22 or 23 and fresh out of uni). Or there was someone more experienced; a BA who had worked elsewhere and therefore had more experience than me.
I was constantly running around London for my interviews when finally in September, I got the job as a Buyers Admin Assistant for Fenwick New Bond St department store. I was ecstatic! I was put on the department of Designer Womenswear helping to buy the likes of Moschino, Elie Saab and Armani. I then got moved to Designer Women’s Accessories 3 months later where I stayed for just over a year. I decided it was time to move on after 1 year as I felt there might not be much progression where I was, forever the ambitious!
So in September 2014 I got the job working for Anthropologie as a Buyers Admin Assistant on Accessories and 4 years later I am now one of the buyers on the same department.
I absolutely love my job and I would never want to do anything else; I feel totally confident 100% of the time that this is where I am meant to be.
However, it doesn’t always work out like that for people. A lot of people I know still don’t really know what they want to do and that’s okay! The most important thing is to do something with your life that makes you happy and gives you energy to get out of bed in the morning; you never want to fear Mondays.
So to all you teenagers out there worrying about exam results, please don’t worry, it worked out for me and it’ll work out for you, there are always options and alternatives.
I hope I have inspired you to go out there and reach for your career dreams. If you would like any more information or advice then please get in touch.
Lots of love xxxxx
Ps, here’s some old pics of me with a head full of ambition…