Barjis Chohan studied BA Fashion Design (now BA Fashion Design and Development) at London College of Fashion, graduating in 1995. She has since founded her own brand BARJIS, which specialises in made to order sustainable women's fashion and luxury bespoke rugs.
Did you always know you wanted to work in sustainability?
To be frank, when I set up my business, I was not aware of the damaging effects fashion has contributed to climate change. It's only in these last two years that I have consciously decided to pursue the path to sustainability. This was due to watching several documentaries and doing my research on this matter. It made me decide that I could not move forward without having a strategic plan to implement sustainability into my practice.
Why did you choose to study at LCF?
LCF has a global reputation for excellence in Fashion, I wanted to study where I know that I will be trained to be ready for industry, giving me the necessary skills to work and be commercially savvy.
What key skills did you learn during the course that you still use as a creative director and professional speaker?
Working independently was something that I learnt at LCF, we were not spoon-fed, allowing us to express our creativity but it also taught me to look at the product from a commercial perspective. In terms of public speaking, I think being in business and failing has made me want to share my story. Public speaking was not a career choice, it just happened but has opened up opportunities to inspire and share my story.
Since graduating, which of the projects you've worked on are you most proud of?
It was wonderful to be part of the Fashion exhibition at the Deyoung Museum in San Francisco. In terms of speaking - I was honoured to speak about leadership competencies at Go compare headquarters and a business summit in Kuala Lumpur.
Between running a business and mentoring, what do you enjoy working on most?
I love the research stage when starting a new project. Just visiting the British library, museums and travelling - gives me a lot of joy.
What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
Receiving a handwritten postcard from Paul Smith and winning Fashion Brand of the Year.
What do you love most about your profession?
The opportunity to meet some amazing people, whether it's in my business, travels or through my public speaking engagements.
Any exciting upcoming projects you can tell us about?
We are designing an eco-friendly sunglasses collection and a vegan leather belt.
Which plans do you have for your career?
We'll be celebrating our 20 year anniversary this year. I am planning to launch a limited edition collection consisting of fashion pieces, rugs, scarves and some special eco-friendly notebooks. I would love to celebrate with a pop up showcasing our new work in October/November.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in sustainability?
If there is a will, there is a way. Take tiny steps but keep on moving forward.
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