From Italy and New Zealand to Edinburgh, travel expanded the horizons of this knitwear designer at Scottish label Eribé.
What does your typical week involve?
My tasks change depending on the season. This is our busiest period, when prototypes for our autumn 15 jumpers, cardigans and accessories come into the design studio in Galashiels [Scottish Borders].
It’s exciting when the prototypes arrive from our manufacturers in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe. Fellow designer Scott Bramley and I meet with managing director and founder Rosemary Eribé to assess each one. We check measurements are correct and that the style fits with the rest of the collection, which we started designing in June, after research such as visiting Italian yarn show Pitti Filati in Florence. Colour research is crucial as we can work with up to eight or more colours for our 100% lambswool Fair Isle jumpers.
Once we agree the fit is correct and finalise the colourways, we order samples for our agents in countries like Japan, Germany, Italy, Denmark and Australia to sell in the new year.
What task are you most looking forward to today?
I’m enjoying working on an intarsia sweater design, which I hope to complete for our autumn 15 collection deadline in December. The intarsia technique allows you to create patterns with multiple colour blocks and geometric shapes.
What do you wish you could postpone?
Deadlines. I would love more time to work on designs. It’s in a designer’s nature to want to make little tweaks even when the design is good to go.
How did you get to where you are today?
After studying for a City & Guilds qualification in textiles at high school, in 1999 I took a BTEC Foundation in Art & Design at Kent Institute of Art & Design. In 2000, I went to Plymouth University to study for a BA in Visual Arts. After graduating, I volunteered at museums and art galleries in Bristol while working in administrative roles, before moving to Rome to teach English in 2005. Back in the UK a year later, I left a job as an architectural secretary to jet off to New Zealand. I worked at Auckland Art Gallery before moving to Edinburgh in 2008. It was then I decided to study for an MA in Innovation & New Applications for Fashion & Textile Design at Heriot-Watt University.
While studying, I worked as a retail assistant at cashmere manufacturer and retailer Belinda Robertson and stayed on after graduating in September 2010, before becoming knitwear assistant at Edinburgh knitwear label Hillary Rohde in June 2011. Then, in April 2012, I was offered the position of knitwear designer at Eribé as part of a Talent Scotland graduate scheme.
What has been your career highlight?
In November 2012 I visited Japan with Rosemary Eribé for the British Fair in Osaka. Our Fair Isle cardigan, pictured on a poster publicising the fair, sold out in half an hour. There was so much enthusiasm for our take on knitwear and so many people turned up for our knitting workshop.
Who is your mentor? Rosemary Eribé.
What’s the best piece of advice she’s given you?
“We have to love it.” If you don’t want to wear it or know anyone who does, how can you expect the customer to love it?
How do you see your career progressing?
Luckily, at Eribé I’ve been given the chance to train on Stoll flatbed knitting machines. I’m learning to programme and knit with the machines, which not many designers get the opportunity to do. Working on programming stops you designing something that will be a nightmare to manufacture. I’m really keen to develop these skills further.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
It can be hard to get your foot in the door for any creative job, so be persistent. If you get knocked back, pick yourself up and keep going. Build up a portfolio in your spare time to show how much you enjoy your work. That sense of enjoyment is infectious.
If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?
It would be on the technical side. The mathematics involved in programming the knitting machines is very challenging, but I think that’s why it interests me so much.
- Salaries for this type of position range from £28,000 to £38,000 (estimate provided by Henry Fox Recruitment)
2012 Knitwear designer, Eribé
2011 Knitwear assistant, Hillary Rohde
2011 Retail assistant, Belinda Robertson
2010 MA Innovation & New Applications for Fashion & Textile Design (Distinction), Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
2008 Senior guide, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand
2005 Teaching assistant, Casa Della Ghianda, Kindergarten, Rome
2003 Volunteer work in museums and art galleries
2003 BA Visual Arts, University of Plymouth
2000 BTEC Foundation in Art & Design, Kent Institute of Art & Design
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