Life of Alumni: Lily Tai
Lily Tai, graduated from London College of Fashion in 2019 after studying BA Cordwainer's Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation. After completing her studies she worked alongside fast fashion retailers and gained worthwhile insight into their supply chain and lead times. Last year, herself and a friend decided to launch their own fashion accessories brand, My Story and I. We caught up with Lily to find out more about her recent venture and what advice she could pass on.
Can you tell us more about you career journey since finishing your studies?
I was working as a product developer for a fashion accessories trade company after graduating. Most of our customers were well-known fast fashion groups, such as H&M and Inditex. Unlike working under the boutique designer brands, there was always a big quantity on each order. I am now more familiar in dealing with manufacturers and managing large bulk orders. After having the experience working closely with fast fashion supply chain, my friend and I have started to run our own accessories brand, My Story & I.
What support did you receive from the LCF Graduate Futures team?
The LCF Graduate Futures team helped me a lot before graduated. I attended the 121 CV tutorials and that has strongly improved my CV and cover letter. The business knowledge I learnt from the lecture by Career Enterprise Team were really helpful when I came to run my own business.
What have skills are essential for you to have in your chosen role and career?
As a product developer and a brand founder, I think negotiation and project management skills are the most essential. In this role, I have to face different people in different positions and companies, including manufacturers, designers, sales and buyers. So, I need to have good communication and negotiation skills. In addition, my role has different product development projects running at the same time, it’s quite important to have good time management skills.
What are your next steps?
Now I’m full-time working for our own accessories brand, My Story & I, which has already released the first collection and official online shop. We are planning to set up the first retail store in my home country this year. Furthermore, we are applying for the UK startup visa from UAL at the same time, and plan to expand our potential market to Europe.
What advice would you give to students?
After graduating, I was keen to find a job which directly relates to accessories design. When I did more interviews, I realised I wanted a job where I can learn many new skills to help to set up my own brand after this experience. I would encourage the students to try a different kind of job before graduating, do more internships or part-time jobs which can give insight to know more about the industry. Not only design roles, but also production, sales and marketing are all important when we work in the fashion industry. It is really helpful when deciding which role you want to do before you graduate.