Friday, 31 July 2015

A week in the life of a Freelance Fashion Designer: Friday

Ever though what its like to be a freelance fashion designer?  This week I am recording each days work and publishing it on my blog - welcome to my fifth and final post FRIDAY!

I get up at 6am and do the usual morning routine before setting off at 8am to dash to my printers to pick up some portfolio pages I sent them to print earlier in the week for me.  I am meeting a stationery company today who I spoke to on Monday regarding a Licensing design project and need to show them some work examples.

I get a brief hour to myself in the car and get the change to listen to some of my favourite podcasts and sing my little heart out on my journey to the meeting.  I arrive at the company at 9am and have a really successful meeting.  The company is looking to expand on what they currently offer and possible venture into apparel.  I will hopefully be helping them on some current projects and will advise them when they decide to venture into new apparel territory!  I help launch lots of small (and large) fashion brands in my day-to-day freelance work so my contacts and knowledge should definitely help them out when they decide to expand into clothing!

I have agreed to come up with a small graphics guide and product concept boards next week so I have booked them in my design schedule for my only two days remaining I have free next week.  I know my following weeks filling up with work now so I will need to discuss Alfred’s care with Jamie!

I get back home for lunchtime and sit down with Alfred and Jamie briefly before getting back to my desk at 1pm.  I want to try to get as much done this afternoon as I can so I can dedicate my weekend to fun and games with Alfred as I’ve not been around much for him this week.

I’ve been briefed a swimwear range for a UK department store for teen girls wear that I need to get completed by mid-next week.  This afternoon I need to get as much done towards this as I can.  Earlier in the year I created a full swimwear trend report for older and younger girls for Spring/Summer 16 so I get these boards out for inspiration along the way.

I don’t do a huge amount of swimwear so I start by drawing up shapes from scratch and get 4 bikinis and 3 swimsuits drawn up in illustrator before the end of the day.

At 4.30pm I open up my blog and prepare and schedule my blog posts for the following week.  While I am there, I brainstorm some posts for the week following week and set titles up in my drafts ready to look at some point next week too.

After attending to my blog, I check my google calendar and make sure I've recorded all the different days and projects I've been involved with during the week in my diary.  I invoice companies at the end of each month and it's important I log all my clients and work to make life easy (and because I can remember most of the time what I did yesterday let alone at the beginning of the month!)  Invoicing and accounts is the most tedious part of being freelance but you have to stay organised and work it all out yourself - no PAYE or last day of month paycheque in my world!!!   Finally I dig out all my recipes for the the week and log them onto my expenses part of my annual accounts excel sheet which brings me to the end of my day and week!

I finish work FOR THE WEEK (!!!!)at 6pm and spend an hour bathing and getting Alfred ready for bed.  Tonight we have some friends over for a BBQ and I looking forward to enjoying it with a glass of wine or two.  Tomorrow we have plans to take Alfred out on our little boat to the coast near Ipswich, which is about an hour away form us – I can’t wait.

I hope it’s been interesting reading my schedule for the week and gives an insight into freelancing?  I love to hear any comments or questions you may have?

Thursday, 30 July 2015

A week in the Life of a Freelance Fashion Designer: Thursday

Ever wondered what its like to be a freelance fashion designer?  This week I am publishing a post each day recounting what I did last week on a daily basis.  Here is my Thursdays editions...

I wake up as usual at 6 am and go through and get Alfred and bring him into our room to play until 7am.  I have a meeting in London today and don’t need to leave the house until 9am so this morning, for a few hours, I do my favourite job: play Mum!  I make Alfred porridge and mix it with freshly picked cherries from our cherry tree in front of our house.  I have my morning tea wile he makes a mess getting porridge everywhere while my little Jack Russell Tilly waits underneath his high chair waiting for scraps!

We then play for an hour before I go off and get dressed into ‘proper clothes’.  I say proper clothes because quite often in the chaos of everyday life my morning consist of getting dressed in the dark and pulling on whatever’s clean and closest to reach – REAL life as a (freelance) fashion designer is no The Devil Wears Prada Scene!  In fact it more like The Sleep Deprived, Overworked, Multi-Tasking Designer wears Primark (if it’s clean) if not stick to the Pyjamas (if there’s no conference call today!!!)   But I love my job – seriously!!!

I jump in the car after saying my goodbyes and head down to London to go to one of the University’s I teach at for a planning meeting for the fast approaching academic year 15/16.  I teach on a range of subjects relating to my everyday work experience including branding, fashion management, marketing, design and so on.  My schedule quite often gets very chaotic so it’s important for me to plan my teaching days way ahead of schedule to avoid last minute stress!

I nip to Starbucks before my meeting and grab a snack for lunch (I know this meeting will run through lunch) and a Grande Earl Grey tea to take away.  In the meeting we discuss the units that I will be teaching on in the coming academic year and roughly plan what I will deliver in each session.  I teach across all three years of the degree programme so I can be teaching ‘Introduction to InDesign’ to new first years one day followed by advanced Fashion and Trend Forecasting to third years the following.  You can see how it can all get a little confusing if you don’t plan ahead!

I really love my teaching work and find it really helps compliment my day to day freelance work and vice versa.  Working alone at home each day can get pretty lonely – having one or two days out each week teaching helps keep me up to date with the next generation of fashion entrepreneurs!  It also gives me a grown up and more interactive day of work which I always really look forward to.

I try to keep all my lectures really up to date and fresh!  Any real life project that I take part in my day to day freelance work which I think may be interesting for students to hear I present back to them in my classes.  I think it helps a lot when teaching to refer to (up to date) personal experiences and project examples to give students a real insight into what their future careers may be like.

My meeting finishes mid-afternoon and I make my way home in time to feed and bath Alfred.  Once he is in bed I go back to my computer and answer e-mails I have received during the day.  I have some small urgent amends to the baby layette ranges I created earlier in the week and get these done in an hour.  I then quickly write some notes up from my earlier meeting before heading off to bed at ten!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A week in the life of a Freelance Fashion Designer: Wednesday

Ever wondered what its like to be a freelance fashion designer?  This week I am publishing a post each day recounting what I did last week on a daily basis.  Here is my Wednesdays editions...

I wake up at 6 am and go through the usual morning chaos of getting the family up and ready for the day ahead!  I manage to get to my desk by 8am where I check through my e-mails while drinking a mug of earl grey and slowly eating a Weetabix.  I’ve received an e-mail from a student in the far east asking for advice on getting into the fashion industry and for books I recommend on the subject.  I’ve had a number of e-mails recently asking a similar kind of thing so I set up a draft blog post titled ‘Recommended Reading for any Aspiring Fashion Student’!  Watch this space!

Today I have a range of baby layette to design for a UK high-street retailer that I regularly freelance for.  To get me in the right frame of mind I have a look through some of my favourite baby blogs as well as looking what they and their competitors currently have in store.  As a freelance designer I regularly devote days to comp shopping where I go to either a large scale shopping centre like Westfield or trawl a major high street like Oxford Street, London.  I also visit lots of markets and independent boutique shops dotted about too.  Huumm this sparks another idea for a future blog post hehehe!!!  It’s really important that I keep up to date with current and future trends and am constantly aware of what’s happening on the high street as well as the catwalks.

I open up illustrator and my library of babywear CAD flat templates and start to look through the brief that was sent through.  By the end of today I need to get 2 packs of basic boys and girls six packs of body suits (all with graphics) designed, two packs of two pack novelty sleep suits (both with graphics and 3D embellishments), two three pack up-specked sleep suits for both boys and girls and four packs of boys and girls five pack printed bodysuits designed.  No time for tea breaks today.

Luckily I have lots of inspiration from research I did last week back when this brief came in as well as lots of Spring/Summer 2016 trends I created earlier in the year.  I begin the day by coming up with some colour palettes – in some of the more basic packs I’m restricted to 4 colour prints so I know I need to be quite clever with my colour to make the packs look fun and exciting!!!

At around midday I feel happy with my progress and stop for a quick baked potato for lunch with tuna and cheddar – got to feed the brain on busy days like this – no diets in this household!!!  After lunch I get back to my computer and browse Pinterest for a few minutes to top my imagination and to start thinking about Spring/Summer 2017 (YES 2017!!!)  Working in fashion means working on one season (today SS16), finishing off the previous season (AW 15/16) and creating trend for the next season (SS17)!  It’s no wonder anyone in fashion never knows what day of the week it is let alone what month – I can’t count the amount of times I sign the date with the following year at the end either!!!

I get back to my babywear and manage to get the rest of the brief completed by 5.30pm.  I now spend a precious hour with Alfred feeding him, playing with him and getting him washed and ready for bed.  This week is a crazy week so I won’t get to spend much time with him, next week I know I have a couple of spare days in my schedule which I will devote to him.  I’m already thinking of a trip to Ickworth House not far away from me for a nice long walk with the dog and a picnique and maybe arranging coffee with by lovely NCT girls!

At 7pm I go for a nice long swim to forget about the stresses of the day then collapse on the sofa (with a small white wine spritzer) before watching some TV then settling into bed with a book!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Week in the Life of a Freelance Fashion Designer: Tuesday

Ever wondered what its like to be a freelance fashion designer?  This week I am publishing a post each day recounting what I did last week on a daily basis.  Here is my Tuesdays editions...

Today I got up at 6am, jumped in the shower and got dressed and ready for the day ahead.  Jamie stayed in bed longer with Alfred while I got up and prepared breakfast for the little one and packed his bag for the day as my mum is looking after him for us.  At just gone seven I leave the house and head to the station to catch the train into London.

I arrive in London at 9am and head over to the Victoria and Albert museum in South Kensington to meet some colleagues that I lecture with at UCA.  We have a morning organised of exhibition visiting followed by lunch.  There are two exhibitions we are seeing at the V and A the first being a small one called 'What is luxury?'  The exhibition raised questions about how and what defines a luxury item and what makes a luxury item stand out above other mass market products.  It raised many interesting questions surrounding design, demand for it and the process and craftsmanship behind various 'luxury' products on display.

There were a variety of different 'luxury' products on display that all seem to offer something way more than what the average human needs from a product.  Take a saddle for example, they have been around for centuries and have been developed and transformed to provide comfort for both horse and rider.  However, if you look at a saddle from five hundred years ago and compare it to one today you would notice that there are a huge amount of similarities and it hasn't developed in design remarkable.  In the exhibition there was a black Hermes saddle that is constructed from carbon fibre to ultimately be light weight and flexible.  It still looks like a saddle but more like a saddle that would appear in an equine horse sci-if movie (if you can imagine?) rather than in your average tack room.  There was no price put on this saddle but it would be extortionate in comparison to your everyday leather version that you can easily pick up for less than £500.  Does this mean we will see every jockey and show jumper using this new Hermes one in the future?  I very much doubt, instead that saddle represents 'luxury' it would make you presume that it's owner has an excessive amount of cash to indulge in such a product which in reality is hardly necessary.

We then moved onto and exhibition on shoes titled 'Pleasure and Pain'  this was a large exhibition showcasing hundreds of different shoe designs dating back centuries through to current day.  There were lots of references towards shoes and status etc...  This was a fun and inspirational collection that I would highly recommend to people.

After the exhibition we moved to regent street for lunch at the new restaurant Thomas's of Burberry.  This was a real treat and a great opportunity to discuss design related ideas.  Days like this are so important as a freelance designer as you are so often working from home you lack opportunities to discuss and debate design innovation and ideas.  It's good to be challenged by others too and get contrasting opinions to your own if not you can find yourself in a bit of a design cocoon! 

After lunch a receive an e mail from someone whose found my Cambridge themed wedding invitations online and promise to send them a sample pack out tomorrow morning.  I get quite a few orders of my stationery at this time of year!

I headed back home mid afternoon and headed to my desk to start work on some baby layette designs I have been briefed by a UK high street retailer.  I work on them until late in the evening taking a short time out to bath and put Alfred to bed.  I sit down for dinner of slow roasted lamb and veg before heading out for a swim before bed.

Monday, 27 July 2015

A week in the Life of a Freelance Fashion Designer: Monday

Ever wondered what its like to be a freelance fashion designer?  This week I am publishing a post each day recounting what I did last week on a daily basis.  Here is my Mondays editions...

I woke up at 6am and jumped into the shower before heading to get our nine month old Alfred up, dressed and ready for the day ahead.  Between 7 and 7.30am our house is chaos feeding Alfred, the dogs, checking on our incubator (currently incubating four Rhea eggs!!) downing a cup of earl grey tea and grabbing a quick breakfast of fresh yogurt and granola topped with fresh strawberries from my kitchen garden.  My husband (Jamie) and I share caring for our son Alfred during the week with a little help from other family members too when we can!

I usually get to my desk by 7.45am and answer any urgent e mails, check out Pinterest and quickly browse my favourite blogs to see what's new and grab some inspiration.  At just gone 8am I check that my scheduled blog post has gone up for the day and pin any imagery to one of my Pinterest boards and also re-publish the post to my Facebook page too.  I then look at what projects I have coming up this week and mentally make a schedule in my head of what needs to be completed each day to meet each deadline on time.

Today's projects is designing a logo and full branding package for a new Indian based children's wear brand in New Delhi.  I've been given loose direction but projects like this are usually pretty open and new fresh suggestions are always appreciated!  I knew about this project last week so have been pinning some research and inspiration to my branding board on Pinterest.  I pull all my favourite images off and make a mood board to present back to the company.

I start by opening up illustrator on my Mac and creating a new document.  I pull my inspiration board in and start planning ideas for logo compositions.  After some firing up of the imagination I head over to some font websites to try to find a few fonts that I can start experimenting with.  I try to not go too crazy and just narrow it down to four or five that I think have potential.  I then write the brand name in illustrator, in all the separate fonts in both upper and lower case.  I then spend time munipulating the fonts to make them more stylised and appropriate for the branding direction I have in mind.  I then start laying them next to some of the icons I think would work well and trying them in lots of different formats.  

After a couple of hours my page starts to look super busy and SUPER messy.  I look at all the initial ideas I have created and select between three and five ideas to take onto development.  At this stage I start to add colour to the logo and experiment with placing it onto swing tags, hanger labels etc...  Whenever I'm designing branding I have to take into consideration the sizing and amount of detail involved.  If an icon I have used is super detailed and the brand wants to use the icon for embroiders details on garments I have to make sure that it can be machined neatly and still remain visually recognisable.

I stop for lunch at about midday and sit down with Alfred who has been out all morning with his dad to have lunch as a family.  Alfred has homemade baby Beef Tagine and the grown ups chicken ceaser salad.  I only stop briefly for lunch before returning to my desk.

I spend another couple of hours developing, organising and presenting my mornings work before sending it off to my client for initial feedback and discussion.  As well as presenting one option that's exactly as they had briefed, I also suggest some other options with different fonts and an alternative accompanying icon to what they initially briefed.  I know this is a project they are eager to turn around fast so I'm sure I'll hear back from them in an hour at most.

In the mean time I quickly make some amendments to some garments I designed last week for a major UK retailer that I regularly work with as they have updated a colour palette for a range.  I re-work the artwork packs and get the amends back to them just as my e mail pings with feedback for my branding work.  Freelance work is all about multi tasking - there's no colleagues to help you out when your work load gets heavy, you just have to learn to juggle your work and time.

The company I have been developing the branding for likes one of the ideas I have presented to them and are keen to see it laid out onto all their packaging as well as developing it into buttons, Denim fastenings, branded back neck tapes etc.  I mock this up in the next hour and ping it back over them for their thoughts.  

While my clients are reviewing my work I receive a phone call from a stationery supplier who are looking for a designer to help launch a new exciting boys stationery range that they are hoping to expand into a fashion range in the future too.  The company came across my details on Linkedin which reminds me my profile needs updating as its been a while since I've been to that corner of the world wide web!!!  I arrange to meet them on Friday to discuss the matter in more detail.  I quickly browse my computer and save some of my most recent work examples to my desktop ready to send over to my printers so I can update my portfolio.  As a freelance designer I don't attend interviews very regularly so my visual portfolio can go quickly out of date.

The clients I have been working with today are happy with my work and have asked me to lay all the individual branding pieces out into an artwork pack ready to send to their factory.  This takes me another hour and brings me to 5pm.  Quick turn around projects like today are common in my week and I get a lot of work purely because I can turn projects around fast.

At 5pm I stop work to have dinner with Alfred and have some playtime before his bedtime at seven.  It's important for me to get some free time with him even on days I work too.  After he has gone off to bed I reply to a few e mails that have come through during the day and invoice my client for today's one off job and close my computer down.  In the evening I take a swim to unwind then have dinner  before spending some time with Jamie before bed around ten. 

Stay tuned tomorrow to see how my week progresses...

Friday, 24 July 2015

Branding: Designing a Logo for a Fashion Brand

Since I have been freelancing I have helped launch and re-launch numerous children fashion brands.  Here is a branding collection I designed a few years back for a children's brand start up called Tin & paper.

Follow my branding research pin board on pinterest by clicking here.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Icelandic Retreat - Autumn/Winter 2016/17 - Baby/Layette Boys Trend

Icelandic Retreat is a Baby/Layette boys Autumn/Winter 2016/17 trend intended to cover late Winter/Christmas.  Tonal Ocean blues are mixed with soft icy whites to create this soft tonal palette.  Simplistic prints are mixed with beautiful knitwear pieces and fine fabrics.  Think simple and minimal!  

I am now also selling a trend magazine which contains all my trends together in one book along with Pantone colour palettes.  Click here for purchase details.

For further research and a larger collection of images see my Autumn/Winter 2016 Pinterest board or click here

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