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My Path To Freelance

I’ve been working as a fashion designer for twelve years. I have worked with a combination of retailers, brands and start-ups and every role has taught me something new. Meeting new people and discovering how everyone in fashion works differently has to be one of my favourite parts of the job.

I decided to move over to freelance just over three years ago as I’d found myself in a cycle of very fast moving fashion without much time for anything else, with a three hour round trip daily commute on top of that!

The first job on my list was to create a website, an online portfolio for future clients to easily view examples of my work, and I was fortunate to find Livia Lucie from Three29Design. Livia knew exactly the look and feel I wanted right from our initial meeting, we worked very well together (and I get lots of compliments on my website!).

An online presence is so important, and I quickly found myself dropping into a routine of scrolling through LinkedIn and connecting with more and more people whilst drinking my morning tea. I’ve taken so many jobs through LinkedIn - along with my website its been invaluable to my business.

I also use Instagram, which is a really fun part of my day. I’ll post images that inspire me when I’m out and about - I do find it hard to switch off but as this is one of my favourite parts of the job I tell myself its ok! When we are away on holiday I’ll see an interesting font or layout and I’ll grab a quick picture for future projects or to post onto my Instagram.

Both my LinkedIn and Instagram accounts drive traffic back to my website which is great as my projects are being seen by more and more people.

Over the years, I have made many contacts and I believe it's so important to maintain these relationships - my first few clients were connections made through friends and former colleagues. Initially I would take every job that came my way, which of course led to some “learning experiences”. But overall my work-life balance was starting to form how I wanted it, I found clients that came to me for one-off projects would return and things grew naturally from there.

I have always been a very self-motivated person and I find every day is different for me - which I LOVE!

My day starts with my favourite mug full of Yorkshire tea! I’ll be ready to work and at my desk by 8.30, depending on what I’m working on or if I have any client meetings booked in that week.

My first job is to work through any emails that have come through overnight. I am currently working with a factory in Sri Lanka and I'm due to travel out there next week for my annual development trip. Due to the time difference I’ll usually have some emails to work through first thing.

If I am starting the season I’ll begin with my trend research, which really involves trawling many websites, blogs, social media, looking for as much information as possible. I’ll also tie in a trip to London for the day where I’ll immerse myself in as much as possible. I’ll also have a quick run around all the vintage shops just to check if there are any vintage prints that I can incorporate into my new season trends.

Once my research is done I’ll collate the information into a nice readable format that’s also inspiring and exciting. It can take me up to a week to complete the research and collate, but this part of the process is where I can really have some fun!

The next job is to present the trends to my clients; I have built up some good relationships over the years - it’s great to see first hand reactions and which looks the buyer wants to develop.

From here I’ll head back to my home office (we set the spare room up as my studio and I’ve been able to create a wonderful peaceful space with lots of fun stationary and my bright orange filing cabinet, where I can channel my creativity!). I’ll send over my meeting notes, to ensure we are all clear on next steps.

Next I’ll begin to design. The design process can take me anything from a couple of days to a week depending on what I’m working on. The retailers I work with work on short lead times so its important that I turn things around as quickly as I can, whilst not compromising on quality.

Once clients have reviewed the initial designs there’s always a few amends and tweaks to ensure the product comes within cost. When everyone is happy I’ll then proceed to the tech packs - these are specification packs for the factory to create the initial development samples. This usually involves several emails and Skype calls to make sure the team in the Far East completely understand what's required. The initial sample can take anything from 2 to 4 weeks depending on the product area and whether the fabric is readily available.

The team will then send the initial sample to the buyer to review; at this point there may be some further minor adjustments. The next stage is agreeing the price. As a freelance designer I’m not involved in this process, thankfully!

Once the price has been agreed there will be lab dips to approve, fabric swatches and fit samples. It can take some time before the garment is signed off for bulk production, but once this has been completed the garment is on its way to a store near you!

Amy x

Create & Develop Resourcing handle permanent, contract and freelance opportunities from entry to senior level - you can check out our live opportunities HERE

About Our Author: Amy Poole Design are a Suffolk based design agency, specialising in multi product garment and graphic design including trend forecasting and analysis. Amy has over 10 years experience of working with high street retailers, brands and suppliers specialising in ladies, men’s and childrenswear with a sound understanding of market dynamics and consumer wants, meaning her designs meet the needs and aspirations of her clients’ target markets. You can find out more by visiting Amy's website HERE

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