We caught up with Benedicte Kiza, one of our current BA (Hons) Fashion Branding with Communication students, on studying at Leeds Arts University, her practice and living in Leeds...

How does Leeds University help you develop your practice?

When I started university last September I was quite sceptical to how university might benefit me. After finishing my first year of study I've learnt so much about myself and I've gained so much more experience whilst studying the course already.

The University has helped develop my practice and my technical skills have improved. I wasn't really confident in using certain software such as Photoshop and InDesign but with the workshops that the University provides it has enabled me to learn so much! It’s so helpful to understand the software as I will need to use it within the industry once I graduate.

Image: Courtesy of Benedicte Kiza

What connections does your course have with industry? Tell us about live briefs you've worked on, or any work experience you've had.

We had the chance to work alongside people that organise York Fashion Week which was amazing! It gave me an inside perspective of what life could be like after university and what type of route I would like to take afterwards.

Going into second of year of university I know there's going to be more exciting opportunities as we are going to London Fashion Week, I can't wait! The trip will give me a chance to build more contacts with people within the industry which will be so beneficial for me later on.

The University has great connections with people within the industry. We were lucky to have Terri Higgins, a celebrity stylist, come to give a talk to us. I got the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with her which was amazing!

Image: Courtesy of Benedicte Kiza

Tell us which resources and facilities you use the most and how they help you develop your practice?

I use the photography facilities the most which has allowed me to gain more skills and experience when it comes to the practical aspect of the course. One thing that I like about studying BA (Hons) Fashion Branding with Communication is that it allows me to try different sectors of the fashion industry.

The course allows me to experiment with photography, where I can use the cameras, book out studios, arrange my own photoshoots and can take full creative control. I am able to express myself so freely. It’s given me confidence to start freelancing as a photographer as well as a stylist, allowing me to gain even more experience and to step out of my comfort zone to find my own individuality as a creative.

Image: Courtesy of Benedicte Kiza

What do you plan to do after university?

What I plan on doing after university is still one of the many questions I ask myself and I am slowly starting to figure out what exactly I want to do. As I've just started my second year I think I have a bit of time to experiment and figure that out.

I would like to continue freelancing as a photographer and stylist, hopefully it will create opportunities where I’ll get to collaborate with big brands and publications and maybe one day, as cliché as it sounds, I would like to start my own business.

Describe yourself in three words?

Creative, hard-working and funny. I would like to think I'm pretty funny from time to time.