I made it to a month! One month of interviewing a new creative person every week to find out more about how it feels to do their job. In case this is the first Ceative Jobs post that you’ve seen, I started out interviewing a magazine designer, an advertising art director and last week I interviewed a creative entrepreneur. And so… onwards, to our next interview! And as I suggested last week, if you love fashion, then this interview is for you!
In my pretend fantasy world I’m a fashion designer. I get to spend my days searching for luxurious fabrics, sketching future master pieces and flicking through fashion magazines to see models in my clothes. WAKE up, time check, it’s 10pm on a Tuesday night and I’m working on round 12 of a logo design that never wants to end. However, for my friend Georgia, that fantasy world is a reality. In between daily trips to Knead Bakery and finishing her undergraduate degree, she’s running her own fashion design company, designing her own lines every season, and what’s more – it’s not only her friends wearing her clothes. Fortune is now being stocked online at Style36, is appearing in numerous publications and is hella fabulous. Georgia blogs at The Fortunate One where she writes about fashion, her fab life and her super cute pugs pups.
• What job do you have and what is your company’s name?
I am the owner and head designer for fashion label Fortune.
• What does your job entail?
I am what one would call a fashion designer, but I believe that today the term goes deeper than just designing clothes. My working title of designer/creative director sees me sourcing fabric, discovering and liaising with retailers and creating collections. I also handle the PR and social media marketing of my label.
• Where and when did you study, and how long did it take?
I’m currently in my final year at the University of Cape Town, completing a BA in English Literature & Media. Although my first love lies with fashion, I felt that being an individual of many talents wouldn’t hurt.
• Do you feel that your tertiary education has had a huge influence on your career, and why?
Being fashion designer was actually a childhood dream of mine that was realized through my mother having been in the industry for over 20 years and deciding to open her own CMT or clothing production factory. And yes, I’m not ashamed to say that nepotism played a role in my chosen career, but I’ve always believed that one should embrace the opportunities that one is given. I decided to eschew studying fashion design to rather pursue my love for writing, which is perhaps equal to my love of fashion, but ultimately the desire to begin my own career in clothing won out. I think that today it does certainly help to be a bit of an “all-rounder”, what with blogging and having a strong social media presence along with the actual fashion label all such important aspects of getting a brand going. I don’t believe that my decision to not study fashion design on a tertiary level has put me at a disadvantage as one tends to learn far more from hands-on experience than in more theoretical environments.
• What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
From sourcing new styles to finding the perfect materials, being able to go through different creative processes each day is refreshing and challenges me to improve both my business and myself.
• Describe your ‘average day’ in the office…
Usually I answer and/or reply to emails from fashion media and prospective or existing buyers. I’m in close relationships with all three of my online retailers so if I have new styles to show them I head out to meetings. I’m on the road for the majority of the working week, sourcing fabric and liaising with those in the industry. I do always make time for a treat from KNEAD Bakery of course. We all have our vices!
• What do you wish you had known before you picked your career?
I would have liked to have been a bit more clued-up when it came to the actual running of the business and how important having good PR relations are. I feel that I wasted a lot of time before I acquired the skills I have now, but in the greater scheme of things, self-education can be far more valuable and rewarding that any sort of “crash test” in how to make a success of one’s self. What I have learnt is that there are no short cuts to business satisfaction.
• What is your creative process when you work on a new line?
I begin with trend forecasting, usually with any of my favourite European fashion publications, along with whatever I feel would be marketable to a local consumer. South Africans can be rather conservative in their dress sense, but there is definitely a younger, more daring market out there that is looking for something bespoke and avant garde that will ensure that they stand out from the crowd. It is very important to me to retain my label’s aesthetic of classic, minimalist lines in unique and luxurious fabrics so there is of course a strong input of my own style in what I design.
Secondly, once I have chosen styles (I usually start with about 10 different garments) I have the patterns created and mock-up samples made. After that I source fabric, which is always tricky as Cape Town has a rather large family of designers and we are all shopping at the same places; and create my final samples which go off to my retailers who will then place orders with me so I can go ahead and purchase the materials needed. I’m very lucky to have a CMT that is as efficient as mine is and we usually get our orders of minimum 100 garments out very quickly.
• What kind of person would make the ideal fashion designer?
One has to be thick-skinned to a certain degree, but overall an eternal optimist. The fashion industry, especially that of design is intensely competitive and absolutely everyone is really talented at what they do. An ideal fashion designer is someone with a strong personality that doesn’t shy away from wanting their name to be heard. You have to envision opportunity before it even presents itself and hold on to it when it does. My chosen career would definitely suit the person that creates her own destiny as opposed to waiting around for things to happen.
• Did you always know what you wanted to do, or how old were you when you knew what you wanted to be?
Since everything from my Barbie dolls to my pet dog received a myriad of outlandish outfits as I was growing up, I can definitely say that I’m living my childhood dream!
• if you could go back and change anything on your journey to the job you have and love now, what would it be?
I would have started my label sooner. Nothing can top the satisfaction that working for yourself in a career that you are passionate about can bring. I have literally found my Fortune.