|Me on my photo shoot with the Daily Mail|
Okay, so it all started when I was 15. I traveled up to London, stayed in a beautiful Hilton hotel and spent a week within the fashion department of Sugar Magazine (who sadly aren't around anymore, which makes me feel really old). From this week on, I knew this was what I wanted to do. So the rest of school and A Levels was a bit of a drag, because all I could think about was getting out, moving to London and living my dream. I thought about what I could do whilst studying, that could help towards my career. This is when I begun working for Bristol Fashion Week.
BFW is a massive fashion production, which I've talked about a lot on my blog. I dropped the production company an email asking for work experience. A few weeks later I went in to meet the producer and stylist, telling me all about the role. I was 16! I had no experience and was completely mesmerized by everything. I was looking up (and I mean, LOOKING UP, I'm 5'4) at these beautiful tall girls and gorgeous men that I thought only existed in films, thinking 'oh my god'. I started off by taping shoes, steaming clothes, labelling.. but from just two weeks of working for that show, I'd made contacts with a top stylist, top models, two celebrities, met clients and learnt so much about the industry. Since then, I've worked for the show every season and was immensely proud when I was promoted to Wardrobe Supervisor. It was like, 'wow, my first step to success. I'm finally doing it'.
I couldn't have been more happy when my A Levels finally came to an end. Straight away, I was back up to London staying in a Travelodge (with money that I had been saving for years). I worked at Bliss Magazine, came home for a while, saved up more money and bagged my first 3 month internship at Star Magazine. How do you get an internship? All I did was email the fashion assistant at these publications, as they are normally the ones who arrange work experience/internships. You can sometimes find their email online, if not I'd suggest searching their names on twitter and dropping them a tweet (you can find their names printed in the magazines). Sometimes, they'll ask you to pop in for a chat. This is nothing to be worried about. It really is a five minute chat to tell you what you'll be doing, and for them to find out a little about you.
How can you afford to work for free? As mentioned, I did a lot of saving. At 16, I got a part time job in fashion retail (whilst there, I was getting experience in Visual Merchandising). I saved and saved and saved.
If you're lucky, you may have friends or family that you can stay with in London (if you don't live there already), but I knew NO ONE. So for a while I was commuting from Bristol. Yes, it was tiring, it took ages, I had no social life. But I loved every minute of it, and was definitely an experience. After Star Magazine, was Company. I started doing some test shoots to build up my styling portfolio. And then one day I saw that the Daily Mail were advertising for a paid fashion assistant to start asap. It was perfect as I was just coming to the end of my placement at Company. The next day after sending them my CV, I went in for a chat to meet the team, and I started the next Monday. I was very very lucky, and that is the case a lot of the time in the industry. And that's when I could afford to actually move to London, which was the best thing I ever did.
Also, I didn't go to university because you simply do not need to for this industry. And it was the best decision I've ever made. Again and again I'm told my fashion editors that university is unnecessary in this industry, and frankly a waste of money. People are so shocked with my CV and how much experience I have, and it's because I went straight into work. And that would be my biggest advice to anybody wanting to work in fashion. I'm 19, and already in my dream job.
So that's my story. Please comment or tweet me if you have any questions. I'm more than happy to have a chat, and I hope this helps you! @gemfash