Case Study: Footwear Designer - Jessica

What do you do?

I'm a freelance footwear designer.

What is your background?

I worked as an employee, firstly as a junior designer and before I went freelance, I was a design manager, managing other shoe designers.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

You need to be able to have the natural ability to sketch, plus understand graphics software, such as Illustrator and Photoshop and also how to use Word and Excel.

You need to be skilled at managing your time and willing to work hard for long hours and sometimes weekends.

You need an eye for colour, an interest in fashion trends and lots of energy.

You also need to be able to take harsh criticism and be good at presenting to people.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

Only this one, really! It's very product specific. I do design business cards for clients occasionally, though, and design repeat prints.

What changes will there be in the future?

There will be more freelance designers like me and less employees. Everyone wants to pay the lowest price and renting office space and having full-time workers costs more.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

Managing my time. Getting up at 6:00 am to sketch shoes is not unusual for me.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

More opportunities if you study the right degree. I think it's quite competitive, but if you are not afraid of hard work and have a natural flair for fashion and can sketch well, then you are some of the way there.

What do you like about your job?

I like working from home and the travel - I was in Italy last week, I had to get the train up the coast and the weather was so beautiful. I have seen the world with this job!

What do you dislike about your job?

It takes over my life and can be very long hours!

What are your ambitions?

I'd like to have my own brand of shoes but I need to find an investor - it's expensive!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Start practising sketching now, sketch people's feet when you are sitting on the train, make a still life of your shoes and sketch them, take life drawing classes. Read fashion magazines and blogs and familiarise yourself with trends.

A day in the life

9:00 am - 10:00 am

Emails and administration.

10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Tube into central London to meet a client in a hotel. She also takes me to lunch.

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Look around the shops, at shoes. I'm looking for any new trends, paying attention to the prices and the styling. It's important to do research like this.

3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Come home, walk my dog and think about my day.

4:30pm - 6:00 pm

Answer an urgent call from another client, I have to change the colours on a shoe photo so he can send the corrected photo to a buyer at a high street shoe store. Sometimes we do this for speed as it's easier than ordering a sample in the new colours.

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Cook dinner and eat with my partner.

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Start hand sketching some shoes out for a project that I have to hand in next week.

9:00 pm

Finish at last!

Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

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