Debenhams’ lingerie design manager talks about a career built on passion, creativity and experience.
What does your diary look like today?
We are currently working with London College of Fashion and have set the students a project to design for the maternity section at Debenhams, so I’ll be meeting with them and giving feedback. Then I have a meeting with Ted Baker to discuss one of our spring 14 lingerie ranges. We will go over all the lingerie and sleep garments and make any amendments and check the Ted Baker team is happy. After that I’m off to a trend forecasting company to look at autumn 14 trend books.
What task, meeting or event are you most looking forward to today?
I’m looking forward to all of them. What I love about my job is the diversity from day to day. It’s great working with passionate students and I love developing products for our Designers at Debenhams range.
What task do you wish you could postpone?
I wouldn’t postpone anything, but because we work a year in advance in the lingerie division at Debenhams it feels too soon to be thinking about autumn 14.
How did you get to where you are today?
Through lots of hard work, dedication and a true love for lingerie. I also never stop asking questions, because you can never stop learning.
What has been your career highlight?
I don’t think you ever forget the first time you see a product you have developed from an idea through to a sketch and then into store. I nearly cried when I saw my first set of lingerie in store. I was so proud.
If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?
I don’t regret anything; if I did it wouldn’t have made me the designer I am today. You always learn valuable lessons from experiences, whether they’re negative or positive.
Who is your mentor?
In the lingerie industry so many people have given me fantastic support and advice, from great line managers such as Sian Thomas who always helped me to develop and realise my passion, through to inspirational heads of design such as Soozie Jenkinson, Lisa-Marie Peacock and my current head of design Sharon Webb, who challenged and inspired me. On a personal level, my parents have always been extremely supportive. My husband is also great. We are both creative and I love it when we bounce ideas off each other.
What’s the best piece of advice they’ve given you?
My mum always said imagination is more important than knowledge, as you can learn knowledge, and I suppose that’s what I live by.
How do you see your career progressing?
I have a passion for lingerie so will always want to work in the industry. I really enjoy working in the commercial side of lingerie at Debenhams so I’d like to continue my career here.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Get as much work experience as possible. I got a six-month work placement with Marks & Spencer lingerie and it was invaluable. When I left I kept in contact and ended up getting my first lingerie job there as assistant lingerie designer.
- Salaries for this position range from £55,000 to £70,000 plus benefits (estimate by Henry Fox Recruitment)
2013 Lingerie design manager, Debenhams
2011 Senior lingerie designer, Debenhams
2007 Lingerie/swimwear designer, Arcadia/Evans
2004 Assistant lingerie designer, Marks & Spencer
2003 Design room assistant, Warehouse
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