We are pleased to announce that Geraldine Wharry, fashion designer and creative director of Trend Atelier, is the winner of the Inspirational Speaker category as part of LCF Careers Industry Partner Awards, which celebrates all the amazing work businesses and industry people have done with LCF students.
Geraldine Wharry has been a fashion designer for 13 years and has always had a strong eye for trends. She moved to London and got involved in trend forecasting after living in Los Angeles and New York. She was born, raised and studied fashion in Paris, however, her mother was from the US and her father from the UK. This multi-cultural outlook, as well as her global perspective of design, means that students and graduates find her talks and involvement at panel discussions a pure joy and particularly motivational to LCF’s diverse student body.
In her talks, she offers unique insights into working for larger brands such as 7 for all Mankind, Ripcurl, Triple 5 Soul and WGSN. She also offers top tips on freelancing and becoming a consultant who travels the world, which supports the idea of the diverse career opportunities open to our students and graduates. Geraldine is a down to earth speaker, with an infectious and gregarious personality. She really believes in supporting talent, which comes through in her talks, making her a popular and inspirational speaker whose connection with LCF is very much valued.
LCF News caught up with Geraldine to find out what she does day to day. We hope you find her as inspiring as we do!
I wake up…at 7 or a bit before. I don’t start the day without breakfast. As I sip my coffee, my cats snuggle up against me on the couch and that’s how I start the day. The day before, I was probably busy crossing things off my list one by one because my schedule is busy and I manage all aspects of running Trend Atelier, from PR to sales to creating the trend forecasts. At the end of each day I regroup and think of what I need to do next. Every Monday I have my goals for the week and touch base with the assistant on what is priority. As the saying goes “The devil is in the details”, in other words it’s about all the different tasks I do during the day to gradually reach the “Big” objectives.
I get to work…easily because right now my design studio is sectioned off part of my home. I’m one of those creatives, a bit like Rick Owens, who lives on top of his studio… So my commute is short and that’s what I like. I start work at 8am. During busy times I start at 7:30. I don’t like working late that’s why I start my day early. My morning ritual when I wake up is not to immediately check my phone and emails. I take 20 minutes to have breakfast. I know it sounds long but it’s during that time that I do my thinking, meditate before the day. Then when I get to my desk I am ready to pounce and very focused.
The first thing I do is… look at my calendar which has my to do list and meetings for the day. Then I reply to emails. I also catch up on design and worldwide news with the BOF, New York Times or design newsletters I receive. It depends on the mood and what I need to do that day. For example, if I need to write a trend article, sometimes I don’t reply to emails until mid day and just focus on writing as soon as I get to my desk. I find my writing is better in the morning. But if I need to do visual research that day, I reply to emails first and then migrate to researching trends for the rest of the day.
In the morning… the best-case scenario is I get all my emails out of the way very early so that I can just focus on creative work. I find the morning is my most productive time in terms of ideas and creativity. I still get a lot done the rest of the day! But I love the morning’s peaceful and focused energy.
For lunchtime…I have a strong metabolism and I am ready for lunch at 11am often. But I wait until 12 as that is more reasonable I guess… then I make myself lunch. On my lunch break I catch up with the New York Times videos. Or I just sit and think! It’s generally right after lunch that I step out for coffee. But I can’t do that every day as I usually get so caught up with work. This is what happens when you run your own business. The good thing is that because I stay focused during the day, I get a lot done and don’t have to work late unless I am on a massive deadline. I’m still plugging 10-12 hour days, and working 6 days a week.
In the afternoon… is when I generally have meetings. This is a rule I have. That’s not always possible, obviously I have to accommodate my clients. Otherwise, I’m generally doing trend research, because this is something I can do hours on end. It’s so varied! Last week I was designing clothing and prints and that’s an exciting side of the business that I am developing. So it’s very interesting how trend research and forecasting has me writing some days, other days designing, other days doing public speaking for example. So to be honest it’s not so clear-cut. Sometimes I have to do a bunch of different tasks…so I just go down the list of what I need to finish first and prioritise.
I finish the day with… a run through of what I need to get done the next day. I may shift tasks on my calendar. See if there’s anything I need to finish up really quickly that’s worth working an extra ½ hour but will make my life easier the next day. Finally, I clear my desk because I don’t like starting the day with a messy desk.
In the evening… if I’m not out catching up with friends during the weekend, I am at home relaxing in the evening during the week. I am addicted to videos and that’s what relaxes me after dinner. My father is a filmmaker and I grew up watching movies from a very very young age so it’s something that really quiets my mind after a busy day. And I love that it feeds my thoughts and creativity at the same time.
Dinner… is generally at home, restaurants or pubs are generally on the weekend. I’m a fairly healthy eater so it’s generally fish or chicken with vegetables, or salad. One of my favourite meals is butternut squash salad with sundried tomatoes, nuts and feta cheese. I am also a bit addicted to beetroot…
When I get home…I try to switch off work and switch on my home brain. It’s not easy though because when you run your own business, it’s a big part of your life and you think about it a lot. My mother is an entrepreneur and an amazing woman, but she found it very hard to switch off so I learnt first hand how to work hard, but also what you need to do to separate your personal life. I love what I do and it’s what I have been passionate about my whole life. But it’s very important to step away from it so that when you come back, you are refreshed.
The highlight of my day was… being invited to speak at the British Library at an event coinciding with their current “Terror and Wonder” exhibit to speak on Gothic fashion. I am excited to participate and meet the other panellist. Also, my intern just got hired for an amazing position at The Future Laboratory so I am really proud of her.
My advice is… if you have spent several years studying how to design and make clothes, if you go into trend forecasting straight away, you will not be utilising these skills and it could be a step back if later on you want to get back in fashion design. Trend forecasting is a niche industry with only a few companies so it’s very valuable to have design skills and not just concept skills. If you have both, it’s a powerful mix that will make you more competitive. Most trend forecasters I know started out as designers. Also, you have to understand the journalistic aspect of trend forecasting and like to write.
Also, you must understand the difference between macro trends and micro trends and have a passion for images. You need to be able to work with images for days on end almost like an archivist. So if you like to work with your hands, that could be frustrating.
Finally, start your own blog, build you own database of research so you can show at interviews your passion and initiative.
Companies should offer students work experience because… there are fundamental aspects when you are working within a company in the day-to-day operations that you can’t learn at school, you can only get the experience on the job. So your first few jobs are like an extension of studying and will define your future jobs. In fact you never cease to learn and this should be a guideline when looking for a new job, no matter at what stage you are in your career. Ask yourself: what am I going to learn? What additional skills and level of expertise will this add to my experience?
Also, internships are where you start making key connections. I am still in touch with my first intern 14 years ago because she was great, I took her under my wing and still sometimes advise her.
Working with LCF students… is great! My LCF intern Tanaporn was brilliant. She was highly motivated and curious. Incredibly reliable, on time and creative. She wanted to learn and step out of her comfort zone. I was able to give her projects and she came through every time with the results I needed. We are still in touch and I expect we will continue to speak as she finishes her studies and enters the workforce.
At Trend Atelier students can expect to learn… how to research trends and create forecasts. They will also be exposed to the day to day of running a design studio and get hands on experience as my company is small. I will guide them through the research and teach them how to expand their knowledge and resources. They will also learn all the backstage work that goes into creating a trend forecast. Finally, they will assist me in trend projects for clients and be exposed to how you deal with clients and complete professional trend reports. I also give advice to interns on the concepts they are exploring for their projects.
We at LCF want to say a huge thank you and congratulations to Geraldine for being such an inspiration to LCF students!