Case study

Junior textile designer — Sarah Sweeting

Sarah explains how her role as a textile designer is developing and offers her advice for anyone wanting to get into this area

How did you get your job?

I studied a BA (Hons) in Textile and Surface Design (Printed Surfaces) at the University of Huddersfield, graduating in 2020. As I finished my degree, we were just entering the Covid-19 pandemic and jobs were sparce, particularly in the creative arts industry. I worked as a carer for a year and started my current role in June 2021 at a leading trade supplier of home textiles following a successful interview.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree taught me invaluable skills in digital design, commercial practice and many practical skills. I was trained proficiently on Adobe software and AVA. My degree has qualified me to do the job I do today and given me the confidence to work independently. My degree also gave me the opportunity to have a year in industry, where I gained first-hand experience.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I am gradually becoming more involved with the key account managers and directors, which has given me insight into the sales and marketing side of the business. I have also had opportunity to meet some of our customers face to face.

I would like to progress from a junior textile designer into a senior position continuing to work in homeware and interiors. I have always had some aspirations of owning my own business, however I always try to keep an open mind when it comes to career progression. You never know what doors could open.

What are your main work activities?

My daily duties vary depending on the need of the company and customer requests. Typical jobs include: recolouring, creating new prints to update our collections, creating bespoke designs, presenting in design meetings and researching trends. We are always referring to current trends so this is something I will do every day - keeping myself up to date with the must haves and latest crazes.

What do you enjoy about your job?

As a designer, it's nice to feel like I am making an impact through my work and in the company, even though I am a new starter I already feel like I am making a difference. I also enjoy the creative freedom of the role, in that I can design based on my own research and expertise. I also love the design team that I work with. We are a small team of three and are always offering support to one another. 

What are the most challenging parts?

Having the confidence to present my work. Trusting my instinct and using my voice to contribute. I have often struggled with low confidence and so presenting designs and ideas can be very daunting. However, I would say I am far better at it now than I ever was, it just takes practice.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

  • Get as much experience as you can - This doesn't just mean in industry (although I would recommend this too -  most jobs ask for one to two years experience) but look to develop your creative skills outside of your institution’s curriculum. This could be watching 'how to' videos, reading, drawing and having a creative outlet.
  • Be brave - This can be daunting but by taking risks and trying new things you will learn to adapt, and this will broaden your creative vision.
  • Be open minded - Keep yourself up to date with everything going on in the world; politically, socially, within your community, even on social media. In this industry, we are heavily reliant on following consumer interest, you need to be able to distinguish what's on trend and where the gaps in the market are.
  • Keep an up-to-date portfolio - Employers always want to see current and fresh ideas. Also, your portfolio is an opportunity for you to show off your talents, it's worth investing your time into.

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