Applying for a specialist accessories design course helped Aspinal of London’s design assistant find her niche.
What does your typical week involve?
My typical week depends on the stage of the season. Currently we are finalising new designs for autumn 15 and preparing for spring 16, so it involves a lot of design development. I’m focusing on completing specification sheets for all the new designs. I’m also doing a lot of hand drawing of new bags (to scale) and also drawing smaller designs using Adobe Illustrator software. I then include the measurements and any useful notes factories will need to know. When these are completed I present them to our creative director, Mariya Dykalo, who finalises the specifications before sending them off to be sampled.
What task are you most looking forward to today?
After completing some small leather goods specification sheets, I aim to have hand-drawn two new men’s products by the end of today. I have spent quite a lot of time working on women’s products this week so it will be a nice change to focus on some masculine designs.
Which task do you wish you could postpone?
Going home. As there is so much to do during the working day, when the clock strikes 6pm I start to panic. So, as sad as it sounds, I would postpone going home.
How did you get to where you are today?
I left college believing I wanted to study womenswear design at university. After applying to a few universities I thought it would be more beneficial to take a foundation year at the London College of Fashion. By the end of the course I was advised to only apply for a womenswear design course if I had a deep passion for it. At that time the BA Fashion Womenswear Design course at the London College of Fashion didn’t offer a year in industry and I really wanted to experience the real world. In 2008, I applied to a very niche area to study for a BA (Hons) in Cordwainers Fashion Bags & Accessories at the London College of Fashion. During the four-year course I got to design for British handbag designer Ally Capellino, Hugo Boss and the English National Ballet, when I was given the chance to design for ballet dancers and have my work displayed in the Victoria & Albert Museum. I also did a nine-month placement with designer Katie Hillier’s consultancy.
After graduating, I worked in a few customer care roles at the head offices of Jack Wills, Selfridges and Net-A-Porter. In mid-2013, I joined Paymentsense, a company dealing with banking and credit cards, as a customer service co-ordinator. This job made me realise I was meant to be in fashion. However, I stuck at it to fund the collection I was preparing for the London Garments Expo in September 2013.
In November 2013, I saw Aspinal of London had a vacancy for a visual merchandiser. I jumped at the chance to work for such an amazing company. The head of human resources contacted me and asked if I would be interested in a design role instead. I was offered a design internship in January 2014, which turned into my permanent role as a design assistant in July.
What has been your career highlight?
Designing my own collection of handbags for designer Lulu Liu at London Fashion Week. She supplied me with green, pink and gold metallic leather and I designed a rucksack and a tote, which were shown on the catwalk during London Fashion Week in summer 14.
Who is your career mentor?
Mariya Dykalo, creative director at Aspinal of London. Mariya also started off as an intern and I find that so inspirational.
What was the best piece of advice she ever gave you?
Never hesitate or feel scared to ask questions. So many situations are made easier when you have the answers.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Whatever you are doing, make sure you enjoy it. Always ask yourself if you are happy or if the sacrifice you are making is going to make you happy eventually. If not, find something that is worth it.
- Salaries for this type of position range between £16,000 and £21,000 (estimate provided by Henry Fox Recruitment)
2014 Design assistant, Aspinal of London
2013 Exhibited collections at London Garments Expo and London Fashion Week
2012 Customer care roles at Net-a-Porter, Jack Wills and Selfridges
2012 BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags & Accessories, London College of Fashion
2010 Intern at Katie Hillier
2007 Foundation at London College of Fashion