Inside scoop: What it’s like to be a fashion designer
Sometimes a job description isn’t enough. It can’t tell you what a job is really like, what an average day could be, the workload, the education you need or the salary.
Hilary MacMillan is a Toronto-based fashion designer and she shares her experiences on working in her field in her own words.
What do you do?
I am a self-employed fashion designer.
What does an average day look like?
My days vary every month. It depends what cycle of the season I’m currently working on but generally speaking my days vary between: pattern drafting in my studio, getting samples ready, travelling for tradeshows, or doing various events like World MasterCard Fashion Week.
How stressful is it?
The stress comes in waves. Most of the year it isn’t too stressful but I work mostly on deadlines, so if it is approaching a deadline and I am behind, than that can be pretty stressful. My most stressful time is when I show my collection and I wait for all the reviews to roll in.
Is it good for intro- or extroverts?
You probably have to be a little bit of both. Most of the time is spent alone in your studio, or interacting with various employees or contractors but a lot of your time is spent in your own head (designing and coming up with ideas). However, the flip side is self-promotion, you are your brand’s biggest ambassador and it takes an extrovert to really excel at this part (or at least an introvert who can push themselves in these settings).
Are the hours long?
You make your own hours which gives you some degree of freedom; however, for the most part people that are self-employed generally always take their own home with them, so the hours definitely stretch longer than say a 9-to-5 job.
What’s the pay like?
The pay scale for a fashion design varies greatly. If you are self-employed in the beginning, how much you make depends how much of a name you can make right off the bat but generally you probably will only make $35,000 if you are lucky. It takes awhile to build a brand, as you become more and more established, it definitely varies anywhere from $75,000 and up.
What education do you need?
Education is definitely a valuable tool – getting a BFA in Fashion Design will teach you all the technical skills that are required of this job. If you are looking to start your own small business taking business classes is definitely really beneficial.
What job experience do you need?
You need experience pattern drafting, sample sewing, and the ability to alter and repair. You need to be proficient in Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator, and InDesign are the major ones – especially to produce tech packs. You need experience working on photo shoots, backstage at fashion events and with marketing campaigns. Having any experience with social media and working with ecommerce sites is great.
Follow Hilary on Twitter @hilarymacmillan.