When I left college work wasn’t as difficult to find as it is now. Even so I failed to get anything substantial in either writing or costume design, my two loves. And so I created my own. I wrote and I freelanced as a costumier. On the side – for my regular money – I worked in offices in London. It was easy money and there was plenty of work if you had the skills. And I did.
But time flies and 15 years on I’d had enough of pretending at my career and I’d grown bored of costume. I wanted to be a fashion designer.
I didn’t go to Uni because I thought a degree was going to help me get into the industry. To me a BA in fashion at my age and with my experience was worthless. I went back to re-train. Because I knew I wanted to work for myself, not for other people. So I picked a course that actually taught me what I needed to know. How to make things, tailor, pattern draft. The basic things we used to do in this country before we farmed it all abroad. I didn’t want to draw pretty pictures. I wanted to make things.
Post Uni, a place on the Lincoln Enterprise scheme gave me the information I needed to set up in business. I knew that if I was going to make it in the industry I was going to have to make my own work because noone else was going to give it to me. And I didn’t want to become just another statistic struggling to find meaningful work.
The gamble is paying off. But I am acutely aware that if it wasn’t for the fact I had made my own job, noone would have touched me with a barge pole. And I’m okay with that. Because it makes what I am doing now seem like more of a triumph.
I am making my own mark on the world.
But I wouldn’t want to be a twentysomething graduate leaving education now. Because it’s tough out there and you’ve got to be an absolute genius to stand out from the crowd.