Rebecca Lewis, BA (Hons) Textile Design graduate, shares what she’s been up to since graduation and gives her top tips for finding your path in textiles.
BA (Hons) Textile Design graduate
Why study at Birmingham City University?
I chose to come to BCU after visiting the campus on an Open day and feeling inspired by the building and facilities. The tutors spoke with passion about the course, and the creative hands-on style of learning really appealed to me.
My course highlight
Completing my final major project was definitely the highlight of my course. It took months of hard work and it felt so satisfying to bring together skills I had gained over the three years to complete such a substantial body of work. The independence and self-directed nature of it allows everyone to develop their own style and create unique personal projects.
Find an internship
Since graduating I have interned with Next menswear in the Print and Graphics Department. My internship with them came after my work was recognised at the 2018 New Designers exhibition, a hub for textile graduates to exhibit their work and make valuable contacts within the industry. The design department at Next contacted me directly after the exhibition and offered me the place.
For this role, I spent most of my time on CAD software creating digital print design ideas for the menswear SS19 collection. I also assisted the team by archiving samples and researching upcoming design trends.
Get all the experience you can
I also interned at the White Stuff as a Fashion Assistant working in Design, Buying and Product Development. I secured this internship by independently contacting the business. I phoned to find the appropriate person to email and then sent over a digital portfolio and they selected me to intern in the Fashion Department.
I was based with garment, print and knitwear designers but I also had the opportunity to shadow other roles in the business and learn more about the production process. I worked alongside colleagues who fit, develop, buy and merchandise products before they are launched in store. This experience inspired me to apply for jobs in buying and product development which led to the role I am currently in.
I’m now living in London and absolutely love it. I’m working in Buying and Product Development in the Jersey and Knitwear team at Laura Ashley. I’m learning so much and getting great insight into the industry.
In my role I assist the Senior and Junior Buyer who are selecting garments, placing orders with suppliers, building ranges and overseeing the design, production and launch of all Laura Ashley knitwear and jersey products. We mostly work with designers and merchandisers as we oversee the whole process from the initial mood and colour concept for a collection, to working closely with suppliers as they produce fabric and make our garments.
My day-to-day tasks include approving fabric swatches, signing off print designs and repeatedly fitting garments with technologists to check they meet our size and quality specifications. Once the production samples are approved the garments get shipped to our distribution centre where they are then allocated to stores. It is then really important we accurately track the sales of each garment and report these in our weekly trade meetings. We use the sales analysis created by merchandisers to influence how we buy in the next season and to help us understand what our customer wants.
Finding a work / life balance
Although working and living a busy life in London, I still make time for drawing and working on my own practice. It’s just for myself at the moment, but it’s something I’m planning to pursue for freelance projects when I’ve gained more experience in the industry.
My top tip
The most important thing you should remember when starting university is to completely throw yourself into the experience of being here and really make the most of it.