Close links with industry and the opportunity to take a year-long work placement in the third year of the course were the reasons behind Gemma’s decision to come to UCLan and study the BA(Hons) Fashion Design degree.
“I remember UCLan being a compact, homely campus which was still big enough to meet people on differing courses with various interests and backgrounds. My abiding memories of the course itself are very down to earth, helpful lecturers. It never felt like a cliquey fashion environment; just a very hardworking and dedicated department.”
The day after her course finished Gemma moved to London to work on her portfolio and be in the prime location to attend interviews and undertake work experience. Gemma recalls: “I worked on various temporary contracts giving me a great opportunity to see inside several fashion companies and appreciate exactly how the industry works and what I wanted to do within it. Many of the roles were perhaps not my ‘ideal job’, but they all added to my experience and, background knowledge of the industry.”
Gemma currently works as Studio Manager for London based fashion designer, Marios Schwab, though she admits taking the role was the biggest gamble of her career so far.
“I left a well-paid, full-time design technology role, to move to the Marios Schwab studio as a part-time member of staff. However after six months of hard work I was made a full-time member of the team with much wider duties and responsibilities. Then, after 15 months, I was promoted to Studio Manager. The dream job.”
In her role as Studio Manager, Gemma manages the day-to-day running of the studio, in addition to implementing a collection development plan for each season and liaising with stakeholders such as press officers, collaborators and sponsors.
“I’d undoubtedly say that my greatest achievement since graduating is working my way up from a part-time admin assistant to taking over as Studio Manager at Marios Schwab. I have managed three full seasons, six London Fashion Week shows and countless collaboration projects and international catwalk shows and trips. I’ve also been part of the Marios Schwab team shortlisted for the Vogue Fashion Fund – another highlight.”
TOP TIP FOR UNDERGRADUATES: “I think my degree from UCLan set me apart from other graduates as a was able to experience a year in industry in a proper role, with a well-respected company. I see so many students and graduates applying to our studio with no relevant work or life experience. The placement year is such a benefit – regardless of your course, if you get the opportunity to take a placement, grab it with both hands!