Thursday, June 5, 2014

Creative Jobs in the Community; Dressmaker or Fashion Designer...

Last week I shared the new series I was planning to share with you all motivated by my daughter's looming career choices heading into high school, today is the first in the Series:

The Dressmaker or Fashion Designer:


Fashion design is something many little girls dream of doing as a job when they are young, and this dream often lives on in a love for sewing and beautiful fabrics. Although working in high end couture fashion is something not many people get to do, there are many fashion designers living and working in most communities now, and often carving a very successful career for themselves. But how do they do this? How can you go from sewing a few bits and pieces for friends and family, to running a thriving micro business that actually brings in a profit?

Most community based fashion designers spend many years learning and refining their craft before they get to the point of starting to sell their designs. Sometimes this is just self-taught, buying increasingly complicated patterns, watching tutorials online, and sewing garments for themselves and loved ones.

Some study dress design formally, at technical college or even taking night classes at a community centre. Dress design and running a boutique fashion label is quite flexible in that you don't require formal training to start the business, although it may speed things up through gaining the ability to produce better work sooner.

Dress-makers and designers often work on small runs of each item, with several of the more popular sizes available in very limited edition fabrics. Dress designs are often made specifically for a particular piece of fabric, so one-off designs are common, especially if the designer works in vintage fabrics. Quality and durability of pieces is usually very high; everything is made with love and attention to detail, and this really shows in the quality of the finished products.

The key to creating this type of business is, in the end, not money but love. Passion drives a dress-maker, and it's a relatively inexpensive start-up, but with the huge competition from other crafters and manufacture-based retailers, a unique and quality product is essential or else the brand won't survive. Dressmakers spend many hours discovering new and exciting fabrics, often from other bespoke and specialist designers who may hand-print fabrics or design small runs. The designer then draws up a pattern to showcase the fabric, and if the fabric is sufficient, creates it in a small selection of sizing.
Another big part of a dressmaker's business is custom work. Clients often develop a close connection with the designer, through appreciation of the work, and being able to buy clothing directly from the maker. This often leads to custom work, where instead of purchasing a mass produced dress the client will bring their vision to the designer, who creates a unique one off design just for them. Custom work, especially weddings, tends to bring in more money too, so building a loyal client base is definitely worthwhile.

Dressmaking and fashion design is an extremely rewarding career that doesn't require much financial investment to start up, although time and education invested in a business are always a good idea when starting any business. Creativity and passion for what you do will be rewarded by a loyal following of customers who believe in what you do and support your business. Plus, you get an amazing change of lifestyle and a career you enjoy and can build in whichever direction you desire.

Of course, the next step is to find information to help work out how to develop the skills and training needed to focus your talents in fashion if this is your passion. A good starting place is always the local education facilities, like the information available at Open Colleges for Australian residents, a good Google search is always a really good place to start looking for your local design colleges.

Happy Career hunting.