Vicky Pulsakowska is an assistant designer (accessories) at Debenhams. She has a BA in Fashion and Textiles.
I used to compete in ballroom and Latin dancing competitions and wanted to learn how to make my own dance dresses, so decided to study for a ND in Fashion and Textiles and from there went on to study for an HND, leading to a BA.
I studied footwear design as part of my BA and I’m now designing footwear, bags, hats and sunglasses. As I’d already been studying footwear, my employer felt I would easily adapt to accessories design.
When I got my first job, I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time. During my third period of work experience in the footwear design department of Dorothy Perkins, a vacancy arose at Debenhams. I was put forward for the job on the basis of my extensive work experience and because the designers had a good idea of what I was capable of. I think this made it easier for me to be suggested for the role at Debenhams.
I design beach footwear, beach bags, hats, sunglasses, sarongs and a swimwear range. This involves choosing fabrics and producing designs using CAD, which are then briefed out to Debenhams’s factories abroad. I also work on trend and colour predictions for forthcoming seasons and brand profiles, working closely with my buyer to make sure we get the right product for our customers.
I particularly enjoy the design process itself, especially seeing a design go from paper to end product. My favourite part of the job is designing embellishment layouts for shoes and bags, particularly using new trims that have been sourced from India or Hong Kong.
I enjoy finding out about new trends, going out to do competitive shopping to see other retailers’ ranges and meeting suppliers to see the new products being developed.
What is less interesting than producing initial designs is drawing up technical specifications for a design and emailing amendments, which can be very time consuming.
I currently make dance dresses in my spare time and hope one day to expand on this and start my own dance dress design business. The experience I’m gaining at Debenhams is really valuable and relevant to this.
If you’re interested in working in this area, get lots of work experience. There’s nothing like being there and doing it for real – it’s very different from university with respect to time deadlines and what’s expected of you. Work experience keeps you connected to the fashion world and sometimes makes it easier to hear of job vacancies. Always keep your portfolio updated and make sure it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for.
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