Five pros and cons working as a freelancer

I often get asked which is better to work as a freelancer or In House. Personally working as a freelancer is most suited to me, I love it's freedom it gives though it's not without it's perils. If you're lucky to be in position to be choosing one route or the other I've highlighted what I think are the high and lows of each path.

1. MONEY

There's no denying when I worked for a company I earned far far more than I do as a freelancer, at the peak of my earnings I was clearing 45K and that was with being a freelancer within that time as well. The main trouble I found hard when returning to work for a company was that my CV was viewed as that I didn't have much manger skills having worked by myself freelancing. Even though I know I can run teams of people have have done so in the past, I was up against people who had never left the industry to freelance so had consistent managerial experience. My first freelance job was in Thailand (which I never planned to get I had originally gone travelling) and I loved designing swimwear in the sunshine and the life I was living there, and on the plus side I didn't need much money. 

2. FREEDOM

The major plus side being a freelancer I think has to be the freedom, pre-children being a freelancer enabled me to travel whenever I wished, within reason. When a project finished I could book cheap flights and spend as long or as little time in whatever country I flew to. But again having the ability to have that freedom, is weighed by having the actual funds whilst freelancing. Nowadays it's all about having the freedom to look after young children whilst working at different times than the normal workforce (ie at night with lots of coffee).

five pros and cons for being a freelance lingerie designer

3. TIME

With freelancing I think you have be great and time management, it can be easy to get caught up with social media. You have to find a schedule that works for you, I'm still working on this - sometimes I get up early to work and get loads don, other times (usually) it's at night. Also there's all the extras that you need to plan for, like accounts, filling in tax returns, looking for the next piece of work. Keeping up-to-date with everything current. Being a freelancer it's easy to feel like you are looking in on an industry rather than being involved and in the thick of it. If you like structure of a 9-5 (or there abouts) Then in house may be more suited to you, or you could get the best of both worlds and be a freelancer on contract - so you are based within a company but only for a set amount of time.

4. THE SOUL

Depending what type of company you work for - will depend on what you are given to design, I was very fortunate in my first job (designing for high street stores in a UK manufacturer) in that as well have been given design briefs from the buyer, I also presented new designs from the fabrics that I sourced. In another company it was all buyer led, I would be given samples bought from other brands and asked to replicate them, it was very soul destroying, and something I didn't agree with. Working as a freelancer people are coming for you, for either new ideas or the technical side of the design so your never ripping off (well you shouldn't be) other peoples designs.  That's what I love the most about freelancing is that if you have the opportunity to work with someone who is just starting out, they are very willing to push boundaries and design ideas.

5. CONSISTENCY  

This is a major one that often occurs, you can be mental busy for ages, then suddenly you find yourself with a free calendar wondering where the next job is coming from. At the start of my freelancing, I continued to do part time work, as I knew that eventually this is what I wanted to do full time, but didn't want the added pressure of the freelancing supporting me at the beginning, I wanted to build up a client base with good strong work. I've done bar work, shop-work and even worked as a TA in a primary school, then worked freelancing in my spare time and also wrote the books. With freelancing I've never worked regular hours, even when I had a full time job designing I was always building up 'Vanjonsson Design' and worked evenings and weekends. Now having children my working hours are even more erratic, and I often work late into the night. 

A friend texted to see how my day was going, this was my face after being greeted with 102 emails that morning at work.

A friend texted to see how my day was going, this was my face after being greeted with 102 emails that morning at work.

Working in a company, especially at the start, I gained so much knowledge from everyone, and I loved the fast pace of the fashion side of things, producing collections, seeing them through to manufacturing whilst balancing the next season ahead, but with like most jobs, the further you go up the chain of your profession, the more away you move away from it, and are managing other people to do the job you loved and set out to do. I have before come into a previous work to be met with 70+ emails on a daily basis, enquiries from manufacturers, changes in tech packs that needed to be confirmed and altered, costings that needed be changed and suggestions back and forth how to do so. Along with future work that needed to be secured, errors on deliveries or stock. So transitioning to freelance full time was a very natural step for me especially now, as the nearest lingerie company is a daily 2 hour commute each way which is not feasible with two young children.

If you get the chance to work for companies then I would recommend it, you learn so much and the support and structure is there for you. If you find yourself out of university or in-between jobs and can't find yourself work, then make your own, go freelance, approach companies, do it in your spare time, or intern, and keep updating your portfolio because if you're static you're not trying anything new and your designs and knowledge won't progress.

 

What to write onto Lingerie Patterns

I think we've all done it, drafted out a pattern, only to return back to it and not quite understand which one it was. Or perhaps your more meticulous and want to write all your information onto your pattern but don't know where to start or exactly what to put on it.

There are usually six basic things you should write:

Full image of information that needs to be written on a lingerie pattern.

Full image of information that needs to be written on a lingerie pattern.

1. The company name: This is not always necessary if it's just you seeing your patterns, however it may be worth getting into the habit for the future, for when you're sending patterns out, this will save you time rather than going through them all again.

2. Name and/or style number: So, so important, you want to be able to know instantly what pattern you have in your hand.

3. What part is the pattern: What looks recognisable when you're drafting a pattern, may not be so when you get the pattern out again, or when you've cut it out of fabric.

4. How many to cut: Pretty much self explanatory. For bras it's usually 'cut one pair' rather than cut two.

5. The size: Again pretty much self explanatory, if your pattern is dual sizing just write all the sizes on e.g. 32C/34B/36A

6. Direction of Stretch: Usually this will be indicted by 'Grain line'; on the 'Vanjonsson Design' patterns it's stated by 'Direction of stretch' as the lingerie can be made in a number of stretch fabrics, and as I have no idea on the exact fabric you will be using, the 'direction of stretch' ensures that the main stretch of your fabric is going around your body.

(7.) Any extra information like if you need to put the pattern down the fold of the fabric, and seam allowances if you need them written down to remind you. I also when I first started out, would number the patterns, for example if there was four pattern pieces I would write 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4. Just so I knew I had every pattern piece before I started cutting the fabric, which when it comes to bras you may find yourself with a pile of patterns which may have a tendency to somehow float and fall off the table!  

your questions that I answer: How do i design without ripping off other designers.

February 14th: How do I design without feeling like I'm ripping off other designers?

Q I Found your website this evening and yay it is just what I needed! I've only recently started getting into making my own lingerie and I feel like I've finally found my passion. I'm very keen to work on my own designs but have one question that I continually return to (one for #transformationtuesday maybe?).  Designing something like a bra or knickers is not exactly reinventing the wheel so how do you go about doing this without feeling as though you're ripping off someone else's design. Essentially there are only so many ways you can make a bra for example??!!

Hope you can help. Ordering a book this week - would you suggest the How to Become a Lingerie Designer as first port of call?

A: Okay in answer to your question: You don't have to re-invent the wheel, unless you are planning to bring a new concept to lingerie, and lets be honest it's not changed a lot in the past decades of years. But then so hasn't a lot of clothing apparel. I would start by setting up a private Pinterest board and add lingerie designs that inspire you every day, and by the end of a couple of weeks if you have a look back you should be able to see a style of what you want to design - your style. 

Look at all the strappy bras and briefs there are about at the moment, I'm even working on a pattern for one. There are many about but there are still so many changes you can do - fabrics: mesh, lace, bamboo, cotton, lycra, and colours, prints, placement of straps, sizing of bras etc.

When I had Vanjo I concentrated of a two piece cup for the bigger boobed , smalled backed ladies, but there is lots of companies and brands that use the three piece cup shape, the exact same shape yet they all look different because they have a strong brand look. Take a look at for example Freya, Miss Mandalay, Love Claudette and Curvy Kate - all of these use the same/similar shape, obviously the fits will be different as each fits to their brand, but just by looking at them you will be able to see that they are completely different.  The picture shown is the final collection of Vanjo which was my take on the three piece cup.

ripping other lingerie designers off

Once you start designing you may find that your style naturally changes as you go on, you may start being inspired by certain designers, then find your own rhythm of what works for you, but only by trial and error of starting will you reach that. 

Also I think you'll know when you start to design whether you're ripping off someones else's design off, you'll feel it, you'll know.

In answer to your second question, I'd order,"how to become a lingerie designer" it covers this topic and the gives an overview of a lot of concepts to do with lingerie design.

Hope that helps.

(and yup your question is about to go on transformational tuesday)



January 16th: Where do i start?

This weeks #transformationtuesday is a question that I think hounds us all.

Q: Hellllpppppp me! For the past year or so I have been researching designing and starting my own line, but I still don't know where to start? I have so many ideas, I want to design for the bigger sized market, design sports bras and have ideas for maternity wear. Which do I do first? Where do I start? It feels like I start then change direction and get nothing done. Any advice would be great Arrggghhhh so many questions I would like to ask you.

A: Firstly, this problem is very common. I know I have many a half finished project, or designs that didn't make the cut. Sometimes you have to work through what doesn't work to see what does. That said I think you need to narrow down your designs, leave wanting to cater to everyone to the big companies, they have the money and can hire many designers for each area of expertise. So in which area does your passion or skills arise? I think you need to sit down and work out your customer, and your unique selling point, also by doing this when you approach people about your brand or if they find you , you have a strong brand from the outset. Also make a list of what you need to learn or can do. Do you want to make and sew your own lingerie? If so do you have the skills you need, if not what is your next step? By breaking everything down it should give you a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. I would also suggest setting up a private pinterest board, begin every night adding lingerie and non lingerie images that you like then after say a week or so, look at the board on a whole and you should see a theme. This is the direction of your brand or theme of your designs. Are you images bright or muted colours? Try to see a link between them all. By placing everything in one place should keep you on the right track when you begin to want to wander on to the next thing. Lastly when you find something that is not working, question why. By looking back on what doesn't work will allow you to move on to what does. 


December 13th: How can I become a lingerie designer with no experience?

#transformationtuesday to getting you one step closer to becoming a designer. Todays question: You blog has given me inspiration, zeal and motivation to go ahead with improving myself and learning new things. But i have a little problem. My friend and I want to start our own lingerie brand but we have no design experience whatsoever. My question is how can become a lingerie designer and own my own brand when I have no design experience? is it possible at all?

designing lingerie with no experience

Answer: This is the most common question I must get asked. Yes it is possible to become a lingerie designer without any prior lingerie design knowledge, there are lingerie companies out there who have successful lingerie brands, it just takes a lot more time. "Negative Underwear" took four years working on their brand whilst they had other jobs, neither had lingerie design experience before they started they just wanted to offer ladies sleek lingerie wasn't over the top with frills. I think the most important thing is to get a strong brand together to start. What are you offering? I started Vanjo with the niche of catering for women who had small backs and big boobs, mainly in bright Liberty prints and colours that at the time weren't being offered to women. Next thing would be to work out what you want to outsource and what you want to do yourself, if you don't plan to sew them yourself then you need to look for a sample machinist/factory. Do you need your drawings drawn up? Graded? etc. Once you know which direction you want to go in it's easier to start to move in that direction.

*Transformation Tuesday is published every week on Instagram. if you have a question please email me. laurie@howtobecomealingeriedesigner.com or use the contact form on the 'my story' page.