When Sarah tells the story of what’s been happening in her life since graduating, you begin to understand how she landed her job at Next.
She was a student on the BA (Hons) Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design course and started out in her second year by working on a collaborative brief for Tigerprint which is a subsidiary of Hallmark and provides giftware, cards and stationery for Marks & Spencer. She won a work placement based on the work that she produced and whilst she was there, they bought one of her designs which was sold in stores.
Subsequently, she went on to be selected for an international competition called Unitex, which is held in Paris. The top 50 students were selected to exhibit, and she sold another five pieces of her work.
During the summer of her third year she applied for a four week internship at Alexander McQueen. She was offered a position in the menswear design studio. This was a diverse role where she did CAD work, illustration, embroidery and dyeing for the whole collection. This was part of the collection for the Milan Fashion Show. She was flown out about a week before the event to help put the final touches to the Charles Dickens inspired catwalk collection. The days were long. Sometimes she worked until 4am and started again the following morning at 8am, but the experience was really valuable. She says she met many celebrities and it was a huge contrast to real life.
Straight after the event she was thrown back into her final year to catch up on all the work that she had missed. Her final major project was very illustrative, based and inspired by Art Nouveau and what she termed – Modern Madonnas (inspired by some of her favourite designers, John Galliano and Jean Paul Gautier).
Each year the top textiles students are nominated for the Texprints competition which is sponsored by companies such as Burberry, The Design Society and New Look. She was interviewed along with 200 other students, by a panel of five judges. The winners, who were all textiles graduates, were given their own stand at the largest trade fair in the world, which is held in Paris and called Indigo. The aim of the event was for designers to sell their designs to visiting buyers. Sarah said, “It wasn’t just about selling your designs, it was about raising your profile in the industry too. Although visitor numbers were much lower than in previous years because of companies cutting back I still managed to sell designs and receive great feedback from high profile designers.”
Sarah is now working for Next. She said, “I looked on the Next website, and saw a job for Assistant Fabric Sourcer and Developer and decided to apply.” She was invited for interview and offered a job during her second interview. But then I suppose with all that detail on her CV it can’t have been a difficult decision for them to make.
Part of her role is to make appointments with fabric mills and liaise with designers and buyers, as well as feeding back key trend information. It involves lots of travel worldwide including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Florence, New York and Paris. Ironically, this year she will be visiting exhibitors at Premier Vision where she had been displaying her work over the last few years.
When winding up the interview, Sarah’s final comment was, “I feel like I haven’t stopped for two years, it’s been really hard work and I haven’t had a holiday, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.” She went onto say, “I haven’t really stopped to think about what I’ve actually achieved, it’s all happened so fast, and I’m always looking ahead so I can be ready for the next challenge”.