I recently had the amazing opportunity to interview Jakki Pay – The Director of Design within the Womenswear Department at House of Fraser. Of course with House of Fraser being such a well-respected multi-brand retailer which has been selling clothing for over 150 years.. being the ‘director of design’ is a colossal task! So as a soon-to-be fashion graduate looking for employment in the fashion industry I found it interesting to see what Jakki had to say (and I hope you do too!)….
What attracted you towards working for House of Fraser?
The amazing brands that House of Fraser stock & the fact I actually wanted to wear the clothes.
What are your greatest challenges of being the Director of Design?
Constantly having to review what we have designed, could we do it better & do we have time to change it. I am sure I drive the team mad with my obsession to get the product right for the customer.
What is a typical work day like for you and what is your favourite part of being the director of design?
What I love is that no day is alike, one day I will be signing off product the next I could be travelling to see a key supplier & my least favourite having a budget meeting. My favourite part of the season is when we pull together our fashion stories for the look book, it’s a great chance to see all the samples together & really bring the trends to life.
As the director of design, how do you deal with the work-life balance?
I love my job so I don’t think I ever truly switch off but I am lucky enough to live in the countryside so weekends are definitely about getting back to nature & relaxing.
What was your career path? How did you get to where you are today?
I started out as a designer / pattern cutter for a small supplier making high end bridal gowns. Then gradually worked my way up. I have worked on several categories other than womenswear but womenswear is my passion.
Where do you gain your inspiration from?
Everywhere, seeing a great looking person on the street, pinterest, blogs, architecture. Looking around you always sparks some kind of thought & idea
What would you say are the top trends to look out for in S/S 2015?
The 70’s influence isn’t going away so invest in a great pair of flared jeans & team with a crisp white shirt for an effortlessly chic look.
What skills or characteristics are required for your job?
Diplomacy! Creativity & tenacity
What is your most valuable life lesson you have learned from your experience working within the fashion industry?
Never take criticism personally. It’s so hard when you have designed something if it isn’t liked so you have to learn to detach yourself & imagine who will wear it rather than do you like it.
What advice would you give to a student in university hoping to follow a similar career path?
Be prepared to work really hard & be realistic. Start at the bottom to learn all you can about the industry you can’t be a designer overnight. Always treat people as you want to be treated, this industry is so small you never know who you will bump into.
I hope you enjoyed reading, +1 if you would like to read more interviews!