Case study

Junior designer — Emily Higgs

Emily's internship led to a permanent designer position, a role that she finds not only creative but also rewarding

What degree did you study?

I studied textile design, specialising in woven textiles at Birmingham City University (BCU) and graduated in June 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown.

How did you get your job?

Graduating during the pandemic was really unnerving, and I felt a little unsure of how I was going to kickstart my career while industries were dealing with the obviously unforeseen circumstances.

I'd kept in touch with my university lecturers and after a few months of working in a retail job and trying to stay creative in my spare time, I began working at BCU as a workshop assistant in the fashion and textile department.

I was introduced to Amtico's internship programme and I interviewed over Teams for a six-month internship and was successful. This was extended to a year and after eight months interning, I was offered the full-time permanent position of junior designer.

How relevant is your degree?

The experience and knowledge I gained from my textile design degree is extremely relevant to my current position. While I don't design fabrics/textiles directly, I utilise the transferable skills I developed during my course:

  • trend and market research
  • colour theory
  • building cohesive commercial collections (no matter the product)
  • CAD skills including Photoshop and InDesign
  • the understanding of designing for mass-manufacturing.

What's a typical working day like?

My workdays are always varied, which is fantastic. Some days I can be hand sampling new laying pattern developments or using AVA to develop new design colourways for collections. Other days I work closely with manufacturing and CAD teams to upscale these designs to mass-manufacturing production.

I also develop product overheads and visualisations, liaise with retailers, architects and designers for market research and as a team we travel often to exhibitions and design shows all over the world for trend research.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy how diverse the role is. I also love seeing a design I've created develop from initial research into a feasible product that can be manufactured in our factory, knowing it will eventually be in someone's home or a commercial space for lots of people to see. It's really rewarding.

What are the challenges?

Working across lots of different collections at any given time, each with their own specific, fast-paced timelines.

The mass-manufacturing feasibility of some designs can also be challenging when they are upscaled to production. However, this gives the opportunity to creatively problem solve and to ensure we have a product that looks beautiful, can be easily produced, and works seamlessly for customers.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I'd love to work my way up to a more senior design role within Amtico. Eventually I'd love to be weaving again, whether in my own time or as a part-time business alongside an industry role.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Say yes to as much as possible - try new things, get involved with as much as you can. This will build your experience, your confidence and your transferable skills outside of your degree.
  • Networking is crucial - connect with people, both in person and online. You never know what contacts someone has or what opportunities may arise from conversations with people outside of your circle.
  • Stay true to you - depending on your role, you may have to design for a company or client aesthetic that isn’t quite your own. Try to retain your personal creative flair, this is what sets you apart.
  • Remember that while your degree will give you the building blocks needed for industry, you will continue to learn and develop in every new role you take on. Each job will come with new challenges and unknown elements, and it is only through doing that you overcome these.

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