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How I got here - Fiona Marston

Outerwear brand Parka London’s creative director believes in working hard and being nice to everyone.

What does your diary look like today?

Eclectic, to say the least. As I’m directing all areas of the brand, each hour I’m doing something different, and today will be a 13-hour day. This morning I checked all my emails and replied to factory enquiries on autumn 13 production orders and spring 14 development. I then sat with our sales and marketing team to go through all our sales and ecommerce-related plans and to discuss trade show timelines. Another focus for today’s meeting was plans for the next lookbook shoot. We’re starting to book models and the creative team; this is the fun bit. Early afternoon I will go through development samples that have arrived and new designs with the team to ensure things are coming in on time, that all fabrics have been ordered and the range is looking just as we want it. We often redesign a whole garment as we change our vision, or add a new garment to the range if we see a gap. Our fit model is coming in at 3.30pm to fit the new men’s samples and it’s important to see the garments on the body and to see how they move and feel. At 4.30pm we have a potential new retailer coming in to meet us and see the range. This is very exciting and I enjoy meeting new people and getting feedback. After 5.30pm I’ll get back to my emails and send fit comments, chase fabrics and look at our costings and budgets. This is easier when the office is quiet.

What task are you most looking forward to today?

I really enjoy receiving new development samples. A lot of thought has gone into the design and sourcing process, so it’s a thrill when a sample comes in looking fab.

What task do you wish you could postpone?

I’m receiving all the pre-production samples for the autumn 13 collection and I need to check each one from top to bottom including measurements and small details. This is time-consuming but very important.

How did you get to where you are today?

Since I graduated I’ve not had more than two weeks between jobs, which includes moving to London from New Zealand in 2005. I had to take a step back in my progression to prove that my NZ experience was valuable in the UK. I’m greedy for knowledge and I’m not content to sit at one desk and do one small part of the job, so it didn’t take long to regain my due position. That’s the creative side in me. I like to see the product from inception to delivery.

If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?

My first job was designing and then I ventured into production management. Sometimes I think it would have been good to have stayed in the design sector a little longer.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Work hard and be nice to everyone. The industry is a small place. The best way to succeed is to learn from the bottom up and don’t expect short cuts; you’ll gain much more experience and knowledge from grafting.

  • Salaries for this position range from £40,000 to £50,000 (estimate provided by Henry Fox Recruitment)


2012 Creative director, Parka London, UK
2007 Menswear production manager, Harvest, UK
2005 Womenswear production co-ordinator, Mark H, UK
2003 Pattern cutter, production manager, Caroline Sills, NZ
1999 Designer men’s and women’s, Primal Surf, NZ
1998 Graduated Fashion (BA), Wanganui Polytechnic, NZ

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