"Keep working hard and stay creative.": Designer Becky Holden on making it in fashion
For Career Month, Her caught up with Becky Holden, who works as a fashion designer with Gym+Coffee.
Becky Holden always knew that she wanted to pursue a creative career path, but she fell in love with the fashion industry specifically when she was a student of art.
After a diploma course, Becky enrolled at the University of Brighton to study fashion design and business studies. The course gave her a thorough grounding in the theory and history of design, but it also had a large practical element. Additionally, her degree allowed her to take a year out and get hands-on industry experience.
When she completed her studies however, Becky found it challenging to land work.
"When I graduated, I was like, 'What next?'" Becky says. "I remember applying constantly for internships and placements, where it wasn’t paid and just being rejected for not having enough experience. But also, being young and living away from home, I can't work for free."
To support herself, Becky worked in retail, an experience she enjoyed as it allowed her to see a different side of the industry. On top of that, Becky launched her own illustration company, and began doing freelance gigs on the side.
Eventually, she landed a job with a Brighton photography studio as a stylist, junior photographer and retoucher, which broadened her skillset further. Following on from that, Becky was approached by a Polish high street brand.
"Everything took off from there," Becky said. "I got to live in a new country, to travel, to learn so much and work in fashion. It was what I aspired to do during my studies."
A day in the life
Becky's career continues to grow ever more in that direction. Just over a year ago, she took up post as a designer at Gym+Coffee, Ireland's largest and most recognisable athleisure brand.
While her job varies from time to time, the word "busy" best encapsulates the designer's average day.
"Everyday is completely different. It depends on where we are in the season, and what we’re working towards at the time. My average day chops and changes, but it normally involves looking at stuff from suppliers and giving feedback to the suppliers, loads of research, trends, fabrics, colours for us to start designing for the new season. We take a fair chunk of time to look at customer reviews, so it’s really important as a brand and also for me as a designer to make sure that the customer is listened to."
Collaboration, Becky says, plays a huge role in her day-to-day:
"Everything at Gym+Coffee is a team effort. I'll design something, the buying team will look at the design, they’ll give feedback and then the designs and all the colours will go to our merchandiser, and he’ll look at it from a numbers perspective.
"It's just a really big collaborative effort, that's the best way to describe it. Everyone that works there really loves the brand and believes in its message."
To aspiring designers, Becky has a number of points to bear in mind.
"Keep working really hard. Stay creative. Pay attention to the market, and also people, because that’s what it comes down to. Really listen to those more experienced around you and learn from them. You can learn so much from them about you and your career. I’ve worked with so many people who have probably unwittingly taught me so much. Work to be more sustainable. Collaborate."