06 July 2011

a career in design, presented by a scientist

Greetings all,
Wow, tomorrow i'm part of the Experts on Tap at my daughter's high school - to chat about my industry, design, to impressionable & wide eyed year 10 students who no doubt have hopes & dreams of fame & fortune.  I have no fear of public speaking but have warned the vocation teachers that my qualifications are in the sciences, i made up my own handmade sewing & design business from scratch in the last millenium.  Please don't let them ask me which courses to enrol in at university or college or tafe or life!!
I am sure the accountants talking about accounting & doctors talking about doctoring all had clear paths to their careers.  How do i talk about a career i moulded around the fact i had to create an job around a bunch of small children, at home, without help, moving interstate every couple of years, i couldn't do weekend markets & it was before the internet was in everyone's home/ phone/ workplace??  I know, i made it happen, somehow.  I guess i'll twist it around to a discussion point on how to move with the times, be flexible & constantly developing, embracing technology & accepting your family situation.  OMG, i can hear myself saying "it was so much harder back in my day" & pull up a rocking chair!!  The world of 'commercial design' has changed, mums sewing at home & small scale handmade cottage industry has made a come back (500 years after it started)!!
I really want to emphasise a basis of natural creativity, finding your own style, niche even & building on it.  I am spatial so made all my own patterns for everything, saves risk of copyright or . . . copying!!  Hope there is an lawyer there to chat about intellectual property & how someone can crush your dreams by stealing your unprotected idea.  You also have to have a good dose of confidence, you are kind of showing your heart & soul to the world with what you create.  You have to keep going forward all the time. 
 Keeping overheads down - i didn't start buying bolts until a few years into my business when i truly knew my style & what my customers would like.  It's tempting to take out a loan & buy up big, but i say "selling out is a good thing, your clients will be hungry for your next range".  Do small product runs, be exclusive & special.
 Make, make, make - your own gifts, products for yourself & samples for sale to get a feel for what the market is after.  Craft is no longer a dirty word, handmade is now cherished & small boutiques are really cutting into major department store sales these days.  Keep fine tuning your skills & tweaking product ranges.  Be careful to use words like "unique" or "original" unless you really mean "one off".  If you're making dozens of the same thing, make each one slightly different - be it fabric, a small ribbon detail or size.
 You're spoilt for choice these days for places to sell your products - etsy, MadeIt, eBay, FaceBook - all offer low cost/ low investment on line shops.  Not to mention the endless stream of gorgeous handmade/ craft markets out there, for stall fee.  Advertising - social media of blogs, FB etc are brilliant marketing tools.  I believe THE designer should be able to present the best PR for their own business, especially for those "you are YOUR product" businesses.  If not, there are plenty of fabulous companies who can help.
Getting into magazines/ published is such a thrill, once you're on their 'call out' list, it's the best glossy magazine free advertising you can get (free = cost to send them the products).
So as i put my 'key messages' together in my mind & worry about what to wear . . . i mean . . . what i should tell these girls, who might be overwhelmed at the thought of being 15 years old & ever confident about anything, versus those who diss me & insist they'll be the next Sass&Bide, i think i'll approach them from the good old Q&A session.  I'll do an introduction about how/ when/ why i started to my journey to where i am now, where i want to go & then ask them what they want to know & how to grasp opportunities, if a mentor might help & who to trust or include in their business.  I'm all about 'love what you do' but it has to pay the bills & be realistic about covering costs - or should i leave them dreaming?? 
I have to do this 4 times for 30 minutes to 4 seperate groups.  Should i take props??  If i feel i'm losing them, should i let slip my daughter in lowly year 7 was the cool one putting up the super popular "You're Awesome" posters to gain some street cred??  Wish me luck, teenagers are lovely & keen to learn that this is one career built on a lot of hard work, long hours & a dash of failure, aren't they??  Love Posie

14 comments:

clare's craftroom said...

All the best you will be fantastic !

Makeminemidcentury said...

Good Luck! I hope you inspire at just one girl to follow her dream and her talents. I think that's all you need to aim to do.

There's no point being able to pay bills if you're miserable doing what you do everyday. Inspire them to discover their talents, recognise what makes them complete, follow their hearts and do what they love.

I'd bring some props, maybe one button or badge or bow for each girl, that she can keep, to remind herself to do what she believes is the best thing for her!

Inspire, Posie!

Frances said...

Jennie good luck tomorrow......wow what an opportunity to enlighten just one student let along 40 or so that the world is their oyster and it can be done with some imagination, skill and confidence. You display these traits in your blog each time you post. Get you Nina fashion style happening and have fun!!!!

NessaKnits said...

I think I would start by asking if they make things and what they make. Do they have mothers or grandmothers or aunts that make things and what they like about those things ... and perhaps the they don't need to be in one career forever, that they can chop and change what they are doing to suit their family circumstances.

yardage girl said...

Good luck - how fun! I would take props, some stuff they can pass around and have a look at.

Steph said...

Best of luck tomorrow! I bet you find they are all as keen as mustard to hear what you've got to say and will nod a smile along with each word. You radiate such joy and passion for your chosen "work" and this is bound to rub off on these bubs (yes...I still think they're bubs!!!) :) x

Sindy said...

I think it will be more a problem of getting you to STOP talking at the end of the 30 minutes. I would give anyone who asks a question a badge to keep - make them earn it! Sounds like fun to me...

Ruby Star said...

good luck posie, i'm sure you'll do well.
Show and tell is always fun and be sure clock you up some street cred with your gorgeous wares.
lol, what Sindy said! make sure you leave time for their questions :)

ally said...

lucky them - learning from an expert who is passionate about what she does!

love what you do and do what you love - this should be everyone's mantra

beck said...

I'm sure your audience will be thrilled to hear about your business, most kids are enthralled by anything handmade. Your tips & advice & experience will surely inspire them, have fun! x

Kylie said...

Good luck my dear - I still dream of being like you (but knitting is not going to do it for me unless I employ help from some poor chinamen - which is NOT going to happen)

The Moerks said...

Sounds like fun. I love talking about my stuff. Get me going and I need a sledgehammer to stop. I am sure you will have them all enthused very quickly.

Tania McCartney said...

Wonderful post from someone who truly knows her stuff. xx

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

What a fantastic opportunity to inspire the students! Have fun.