Since reading History at Sheffield University I have been working in the fashion industry for 19 years.
You can’t beat starting at the very bottom if you want to understand the fashion business inside out and my first job was at Wallis – then part of the Sears group – as a womenswear allocator, monitoring sales with the merchandising teams. After a year’s experience, I moved sideways to Faith footwear as my first step towards a career in buying, before progressing to the big time, into menswear buying at Selfridges department store when Vittorio Radice was still CEO. It was an immensely exciting time to be working there, hugely inspirational and constantly evolving. I learnt so much from all the incredible people that made Selfridges the powerhouse it is today. I shifted from menswear to womenswear which is where I have stayed. Having launched the denim room (with all the L.A brands of the time) I bought for the women’s designer wear department handling multi million pound budgets, travelling the world looking for the best brands, sitting on the front row of the shows and becoming a brand specialist. At my peak I was buying 130 different brands.
After 7 years I needed a change and worked for Prada in their UK buying office. This helped broaden my knowledge of the luxury market and I was impressed by the enormous dedication of their staff and the lengths to which they will go to get it ‘just right’. I then moved to Reiss and experienced yet another different perspective, this time seeing the upper end of the UK high street and working in a fast moving, product driven team bursting with talent. I worked closely with in-house design to create an appealing and commercial range.
It was at this time that I took the decision to apply my knowledge and skills to other disciplines in the fashion industry. I retrained as a stylist, helping others to develop their own look, teaching them how to dress to enhance their shape, improving their working and personal life and showing them which brands were right for them. Looking your best is not a frivolous or superficial desire. When we look our best, we feel good about ourselves. When we look our best, we project confidence and can concentrate on the task in hand – whether that is doing a major presentation, going to an interview or meeting friends for lunch. I have seen some major transformations in my clients; once they have discovered what suits them, they can begin to push themselves forward in ways they never previously thought possible. Through a process of colour analysis, body mapping, wardrobe management and personal shopping, my clients create their own capsule wardrobe and learn to actually enjoy the shopping process.
Alongside the styling I also write regularly for fashion magazines including Red and Stella. This has allowed me to meet many fascinating industry insiders and given me another creative outlet. I continue to work part-time as a womenswear range planner for Margaret Howell, one of the UK’s most revered designers. It means I can still stay close to the designed garment in a business that prides itself on its product integrity.
Outside of work I have two lively little boys – Sam and Jesse. They are at primary school and I help out there when I can. I love to sketch and paint and am just beginning a course in acrylics. I enjoy cycling around Richmond Park, going to gigs and festivals and getting lost in a good book.