Fashion & Features Editor at Schön! Magazine
What were you doing before starting your degree at LCF?
I worked in public relations for several years. My work had nothing to do with fashion and although I was successful at it, it was a career I had fallen into by chance when I was younger rather than something I had always wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something more visually creative and had always been interested in the fashion industry.
I felt that doing a degree would be a good first step in starting a new career and that studying would also be satisfying on a personal level, having spent so many years working for other people.
What made you choose BA (Hons) Fashion Media (Part time)?
I would have liked to be able to study full time, but financially it just wasn't feasible as I have a mortgage to pay! I also thought that studying part time would allow me to get industry experience. I wanted to be working in the fashion industry by the time I completed the course.
There were very few part-time fashion courses on offer. I knew I wanted to work in fashion but didn't necessarily want to be a designer. When I read about this course, it sounded like it had been tailor made for me as it was varied and combined written theory with practical, vocational and creative elements. I knew immediately that this was the degree I wanted to do and wished that I had known about it sooner!
How did you find the course in terms of fitting in with your life?
I left my full time job in order to start the degree, but also so that I could try to get industry experience. I was working as a freelance fashion stylist which allowed me to be flexible, however you actually work more hours than you would in a full time job. Juggling work, study and other commitments has been very hard at times, but if it's something you really want to do, you just find a way.
During the course, I was also course representative for the Fashion Editor at UAL's magazine and I took an Italian course at the University, but towards the end, began concentrating on my career and my degree. It was good to do all of those things, but in the later stages of the course, it's best to keep focused and prioritise.
How does LCF help part time students?
Some of the facilities, like the Library and The Student Centre are open on weekday evenings and Saturdays, which is really helpful if you work during the day. There are various projects and activities organised by the Students' Union, but it's up to you how much or how little you want to get involved.
There are also foreign language courses run at LCF in the evenings. These can be really useful for a lot of jobs in the fashion industry.
What projects were you involved?
I went to Sri Lanka with nine other students from the LCF part time programme. We were there for one month, during which time we worked with fashion students from the University of Moratuwa on a project for the Sri Lankan tourist board, toured factories and did industry placements.
It was an amazing experience, both challenging and rewarding and a great opportunity to experience another culture from a completely different perspective to that of a tourist.
How has studying at LCF helped you?
Studying at LCF was helpful when trying to get my foot in the door of the fashion industry. It has a good reputation and I believe people took me more seriously because I was studying for a degree in fashion media.
What's most useful, however, is to have gained knowledge about a number of elements of the industry, e.g. fashion forecasting, business and branding and also to have examined it from a cultural perspective. I feel like I have a much more in-depth understanding of the industry now.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to change direction and try and make it in the world of fashion?
The most important thing is to get work experience, as much of it as you can, and be prepared to start at the bottom. This doesn't just have to take the form of structured industry placements. You could volunteer to work on a smaller fashion magazine or at catwalk shows, or just start doing something yourself, e.g. a magazine or a blog.
I started my styling portfolio by teaming up with photographer friends and using clothes from fashion students and graduates. Now I'm working for magazines like Vanity Fair.
Know your stuff. Take an active interest in what's happening in the industry and seasonal trends. Just liking clothes and shopping does not make you a fashion expert! In any career you have to think about your market and your customer doesn't necessarily have the same taste as you.
Contacts are everything. It's important to start building yours straight away and you can start with fellow students. Always be professional, polite and friendly to everybody. Just because someone's not useful or helpful to you now, it doesn't mean they won't be in the future. The fashion industry is a small place and if you make a good impression people will remember you when opportunities come up.
What tips would you give to students wishing to study part time at LCF?
Be prepared for a lot of work. It's not easier to study part time, it's harder, as you will be juggling study with work or other commitments. Research the courses thoroughly and don't be afraid to contact the college to ask questions. If you are going to study for four years, you need to be sure you have selected the right course for you.
Don't wait until the end of your course or after graduation to get industry experience. Start straight away. A degree is not enough to get a job in the industry, you need the work experience as well. You will have more time to do placements near the beginning of the course anyway as it gets more demanding as it progresses.
Get involved outside of the course. There's a lot going on at LCF, but as a part-time student it's up to you to seek out opportunities.
If you have the time it's definitely worth doing something like working on Less Common, More Sense- UAL's magazine. It gives you the opportunity to work with students from other colleges and disciplines. You can learn a lot and make great contacts. Even if you just contribute something, it's a good opportunity to showcase your work and it looks good in your portfolio when applying for jobs.