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How I got here - Sarah Graham

Lingerie brand Ayten Gasson’s sales manager landed her dream job after returning to education.

What does your diary look like today?

The brand’s founder Ayten Roberts is based at her Brighton studio and I’m based in Cambridge, so we have a telephone meeting to discuss an upcoming press day and our Best of Britannia event at the start of October, where we’ll be exhibiting for the first time. We are also launching a bespoke garter service online, where people have a choice of different silks, laces, bows and charms. Each garter will be handmade to customers’ specifications. My job for this afternoon is placing orders with our lace manufacturers and our silk agent, both of which are UK-based, while liaising with the studio. I then have to produce the final hangers, showing the combinations that will be sent out to our press and main buyers.

What meeting are you most looking forward to today?

I’m excited about discussing the Best of Britannia [trade and business-to-consumer] event. I love events as you get to meet your customers and talk about the brand.

What task do you wish you could postpone?

At some point this week I’ll have to finalise all the production notes, as our autumn collection goes into production. This is always stressful as everything has to be incredibly precise and you can’t allow for any errors, as these can be costly.

How did you get to where you are today?

When I left school, I went straight into a job at [womenswear chain] Jigsaw, which quickly led to a management position.

I followed this by working for Business Weekly newspaper managing the accounts department. I wanted to return to my first love, fashion design, so I returned to education as a mature student. I built a portfolio of work by completing training in fashion illustration and design at Central Saint Martins, and also undertook an Access to Fashion Promotion Media course at London College of Fashion. I went on to graduate in my hometown of Cambridge, with a degree in fashion design from the Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University. In my final year of study I decided to specialise in lingerie and corsetry design, and completed further courses in lingerie design at Kensington and Chelsea College, with additional training from Wimbledon College of Art.

What has been your career highlight?

Meeting Ayten. After I graduated, I had a work experience placement with a lingerie designer exhibiting at the Lingerie Collective trade show in London. Our stand was adjacent to Ayten Gasson’s, and I had always loved Ayten’s designs,
so I introduced myself and she mentioned that she was looking for an assistant. We swapped numbers and I visited Ayten at her London studio the following week for an interview.

How do you see your career progressing?

I’m working towards launching Matilda Darling, a luxury lingerie label, early next year. It’s an exciting time, and I’m also looking forward to an ongoing collaborative relationship with Ayten to support the growth of our respective brands.

  • Salaries for this position range from £60,000 to £70,000. However, in a smaller company such as this they will range from £28,000 to £35,000 (estimate provided by Henry Fox)


2012 Sales manager, Ayten Gasson
2010 Lingerie assistant, Ayten Gasson
2010 Fashion studio supervisor, Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University
2010 BA Hons Fashion Design, Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University
2003 Office manager, Business Weekly

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