I have worked as a Fashion Designer for the best part of a decade. It is a career I have worked incredibly hard to build and one that I absolutely love.
Thanks to this work I have been lucky enough to travel to Europe to conduct shop reports and to the Far East to visit manufacturers. Having spent days analysing catwalks for the latest fashion trends I have created ranges that have appeared in publications such as Vogue.
Working as a Fashion Designer is my dream job, but with the highs come the lows, the hours are long and pressure high. Both are expected of you in the role but not ideal when you have a baby.
In late 2019 my little boy Luca was born and, if I am totally honest, I foolishly didn’t imagine a baby to shake things up so much. I seem to remember my parting words as I left for maternity leave being ‘See you in 12 months after my holiday’! Once the shock of a newborn had worn off, my husband and I realised that being parents was actually going to be as difficult as everyone had warned us. I started to think about the future. From the early days of having Luca I knew that I would want to get back to work – I really missed that part of my life.
I loved my job but had big reservations as to whether it would be right for me to go back.
Reducing my hours substantially would be necessary. This would have a dramatic effect on my career progression but I still wanted to progress and achieve big things.
Time to start planning
I started to form a plan of how I could create a successful business for myself. This would give me the time I wanted to spend with Luca and give us an opportunity to approach childcare with a bit more ease and flexibility. To gain a better understanding of what would be required I reached out to Freelance Designers on social media, asking about their experience and their highs and lows.
My next step was to build a professional network by contacting buyers I had previously worked with to see if there was a need for Freelance Designers within their companies. All were more than happy to provide me with the answers I needed and this made me realise just how essential networking and contacts are.
Towards the end of 2020 I made the decision to become self employed and start work as a Fashion Design Consultant.
The first step and one of my biggest challenges was to understand how I can use social media to promote myself and my expertise – to embrace a new way of working. Over the past few months I have connected with so many different people, from students working on their final collections to entrepreneurs both established and new to the business world. Each one has offered me a different insight into how I can drive my business forward.
Starting out with start ups
It is early days for Sam Chianca Design but I have got off to a great start. A lot of my business so far has been working with start ups and helping them realise ambitions similar to my own, as well as being a friendly face within the fashion world. I have found building a strong network of contacts, sharing my story on social media and being flexible with working hours to be crucial in building my business.
I am new to freelancing and would say working as a Freelancer is definitely not for everyone. Often I have to work around Luca and carry work on in the evenings and weekends, while ignoring the mess in the house, but it has enabled me to be in control of my own success – whilst also being the person that is there to tackle the toddler before he tries to take a swim with the ducks.