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After doing her art foundation, Emily took the advice of one of her tutors and decided to drive her career as a designer towards textiles, which led her to study BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit at LCF. Right after graduating in 2014, she started her eponymous brand Emily Carter, where she combines her skills in textiles and prints with her love for the natural world. She also works as a Lead Designer for Harrods, where she's currently designing a new line of products for Personalisation and Gift Wrap departments.
What have you been working on since finishing your course?
I launched my silk accessories company Emily Carter straight out of university, which has provided me with some amazing experiences: being part of London and Paris Fashion Week for the past 3 years, appearing on magazine front covers and having regular features in publications like Vogue and the Financial Times. I've also been working on and off as a designer for companies such as Harrods, where I've been heading up the design in the Personalisation and Gift Wrap departments.
What's the best thing about being a designer and having your own label?
It's such a pleasure to be able to enjoy what you do every day and be creatively free. I also like the unpredictability. Some people thrive off security, others thrive off risk. I am far more on the risk side and I like not knowing what's going to happen - it makes life more exciting. It often only takes one chance meeting or conversation...with this industry you just never know.
Any exciting upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I've recently made the decision to restructure Emily Carter and redirect the product to a different market so I'm currently working on a stationery and interiors collection, and planning clothing for next year. This is something I've had in the back of my mind for the past two years, and after having an influx of sales in homewares recently, I realised it was the right direction to take for the business. I have also started abstract painting this year as a side project - this was purely an outlet for me to try something different as I've never really painted before, but they've already been very popular.
What are your plans for the next few years?
I am due to start my MA at the Royal College of Art in September. It'll be a change for me to return to education but I'm looking forward to spending the next few years completely engrossed in my work with a clear direction.
The business is really beginning to fly - it's been a slow burner which I found discouraging at first, but I now realise that slow growth is actually far more reliable and positive.
Let's talk about your time at LCF. Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
I knew I wanted to pursue a creative career, not necessarily in fashion - however, I was always interested in biology and natural sciences, which I have incorporated into my prints.
Why did you choose to study at LCF?
I only wanted to study here. LCF offered the only course that incorporated both fashion and textiles, and for me it was a dream to study at London College of Fashion. If I hadn't got a place I'm not sure I would've gone to university!
What attracted you about the BA in Fashion Textiles?
I wanted a course that incorporated both fashion and textiles. During my art foundation, my tutor pointed out that I was far more focussed on textiles than fashion, which was news to me as I hadn't even considered textiles as an option. Little did I know how much I would come to love textiles.
I enjoyed surface embellishment, and I found the process of creating knitwear therapeutic and satisfying.
Which topic did you explore for your final project?
I chose to focus on the Victorian era: curiosity cabinets, natural history and taxidermy, incorporating my love of science and nature. I also focussed on creating alternatives to fur through mixed media knitwear. Research was my favourite part - I have endless books containing beautiful imagery which are my go-to when putting ideas together for a new collection.
What was the best piece of advice you received during your time at LCF?
My LCF tutor once said to me: "Emily, if you didn't have incredible courage and confidence, you wouldn't be able to create such beautiful work" - I went through some difficult times during the last year of my course and the 3 years afterwards, and this statement always reminded me to never lose confidence in my inner power, strength and most importantly, my creativity.
What would you say to potential students who would like to study Fashion Textiles?
You get out what you put in. My tutor regularly said this when I was on the course, and she was right. You need to be the first one in and the last one out in order to get ahead of the game. I'm afraid it is competitive, and you have to be prepared for that. Of course, make friends and be nice to people, but make sure you're giving the course your all.
I put everything else on hold for those 3 years, my social life went out of the window, and I'm afraid it doesn't change much when you work in the industry. I still work 6-7 days a week, but luckily it doesn't feel like work when you love what you do.
One more thing - remember to enjoy it! There are few times in life where you have the opportunity to be creatively free, with unlimited resources and expert guidance at your fingertips, so make the most of it.