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Life of Alumni: into the world of freelance fashion copywriting with Vanessa da Silva Miranda

Diary with notes on the table
Diary with notes on the table

Written by
Alexandra R. Cifre
Published date
17 August 2019

For LCF alumna Vanessa da Silva Miranda, having a strong vocation to become a journalist and be fluent in English led her to a successful career in communications, working as a freelance copywriter for different fashion brands like Selfridges and Farfetch. In this interview, she explains how studying the postgraduate course in Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism at LCF (now MA Fashion Journalism), changed her perception about the fashion industry, and shares her insight into the challenging but rewarding world of freelancing.

Hi Vanessa! You're originally from Portugal. Why did you decide to move to London and study at LCF?

When I was 11, I saw an interview with Stella McCartney about her career where she mentioned she studied at UAL. Her words really stuck with me, and since then I knew I’d live in London at some point in my life. I did my undergraduate in Social Communication in Lisbon and started gaining experience as soon as I finished, interning and working in journalism and PR, and I also started my own blog. After a few years, I felt like it was time to make a change and move to London, and that’s when I found out about the MA Fashion Journalism at LCF.

What attracted you about the field of communications?

For me it’s vocational. I’ve always liked writing and reading so much, I never really thought about doing something else! My parents wanted me to be a lawyer, but I knew that wasn’t for me. I started writing and trying to publish as soon as I could. My first articles were about surf and architecture, nothing to do with fashion, but it gave me an idea of what it was like being a journalist in the real world.

And what made you decide to specialise in fashion? 

Like with writing and reading, I also enjoyed doing scrap books, collecting catwalk images from magazines. Even though my degree was purely about communications, I knew that at some point I would end up writing about fashion.

As a journalist, I think it’s good to know a little bit about everything that’s happening in the world, and then you can use those references when writing about collections you see on the catwalk or new fashion trends.

You mentioned that being part of UAL was on your mind since you were very young. How did you react when you found out you got accepted at LCF?

I remember I was in the kitchen. When I opened my emails and I saw I was accepted at LCF, I started screaming at the computer - I couldn't believe it! I called my mum and my friends straight away, I was hysterical.

How did you find your time at LCF? Did it meet your expectations?

For my, LCF was a mythical institution where all these creative geniuses came from, and I kept thinking I was going to study in one of the best universities in the world and learn from the best.

I was quite disillusioned with the state of fashion in Portugal, but when I got to London it was like being transported to a magical world where fashion was understood in a more powerful sense. Studying at LCF revived my love for fashion and reminded me what's so fascinating about this industry.

Based on your experience, what would you say to potential students who would like study journalism here but English is not their first language?

I was very lucky, because in Portugal we learn English from a very young age. I’ve always enjoyed languages anyway, so I tried to read in English all the time, I grabbed every magazine I could, every book, wrote down sentences and words. As a copywriter, I got so used to working in English that now I feel like I’m forgetting how to speak in Portuguese!

For those like me who come from other countries, English might not be our first language, but speaking other languages is definitely a plus in this field.

You have a wide experience in freelancing and working as a copywriter for brands like Farfetch and Selfridges. How do you get access to all these opportunities?

I do lots of research about these brands and I try to spot any opportunities where I could offer my knowledge and skills. Having an active presence on social media and a nice online portfolio is really important - I get lots of offers through LinkedIn. And then I try to meet other freelancers and exchange ideas and contacts with them. You have to constantly remember to put yourself out there and display your work, and being confident enough to take on different challenges.

How can students or young professionals develop that confidence if they want to follow your steps and start freelancing?

We’ve all had the same fears in the beginning, I used to be very shy. I think having confidence in your work and your skills comes with practice and professional maturity. I know it’s cliche, but you never know unless you try, so just go for it! Opportunities don’t fall from the sky.

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