Where do you even start as a young designer wanting to do your own thing?! Attempting to break into this scary and fiercely competitive world is daunting. The team behind Fashion East fight your corner, hold your hand and give you the tools needed to navigate your way. In 3 years Natasha Booth has gone from keen intern to managing all things Fashion East under Lulu Kennedy’s wise guidance, and has worked with brilliant talents including Marques'Almeida, Shaun Samson, Nasir Mazhar, Agi & Sam, Astrid Andersen, Claire Barrow, Ryan Lo, Ashley Williams, Craig Green and more. Along the way she picked up a few handy tips for young designers starting out...
1. Learn the tricks of your trade.
It’s not what you want to hear after countless years of education, staggering student debt and overdue rent but interning is tried and tested. Learning from the best and gathering a bucket load of contacts is invaluable. A must.
2. Apply Apply Apply!
London has extraordinary support for all kinds of young talent, and there’s probably more out there than you know – from Fashion East (hiya!) to the Centre for Fashion Enterprise and East London Small Business Centre. Plus there are increasing numbers of international initiatives too – the LVMH prize, VFiles made Fashion, Mango Fashion Award etc. Research what may be available to you and go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose!
3. Get social media and digi savvy!
There is no excuse to not utilise the free tools the internet has handed to you on a plate to get your work noticed. However try not to go too overboard on the totally shameless self-promotion. #unfollow
4. Pro tip: make really good clothes that people want to buy and wear!
Surprisingly lots of designers forget about this. Don’t. It’s art and commerce remember!
5. Identify your USP.
Why should a potential store or customer buy from you and not a competitor? Young designers prices are often similar to luxury houses with extensive histories and resources you can’t dream of competing with. So don’t! You need to offer something new and unique to carve your niche.
6. Mean business and do your sums!
The hype and press for a young brand means nothing if the numbers don’t add up. Yeah you won’t make a mint overnight but get your shit in order early on to stand any chance of making it work as a legit business. We’re talking cash flow, budgets, profit margins, taxes – basically make Microsoft Excel your BFF.
7. Don’t be a dick.
Be nice and say thank you! Being a pleasure to work with pays off big time in this busy fash world. I’ll go above and beyond for somebody who goes to the effort of moonpigging us a thank you card. Not kidding.
8. Work hard.
Know that this won’t be easy or happen overnight. You’re going to have to put in the hours, nobody else can do that for you. Also spoiler alert – it’s really not glam. Soz.
9. Seek advice from the right people.
Everyone as an opinion but it’s not always from a knowledgeable place. It’s a skill to know who to listen to and when to trust your own instinct. And hunt out that brazenly honest friend who will tell you the cold hard truth everytime you have a terrible idea!
10. Have plenty of lolz.
And enjoy the free drinks along the way. Good luck!