Katie's story

Working for a Hong Kong / China based company, lingerie designer Katie Isherwood gets to travel the world and use her creativity to the full. Find out how she got where she is today...

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Katie's story

What qualifications did you take at school?

Ten GCSEs in Art, English (Language and Literature), Maths, Geography, French, CDT, RE, Physics… 

Did you go to university/college after school?

I took four A levels: Art and Design, Fashion and Textiles, Design Communication and General Studies. Then I completed a Foundation Course in Art and Design at Grimsby Art College where I built up my portfolio before being accepted at Central St Martins in London to study BA Fashion Design with Marketing.

What work experience did you do?

I had a ‘year out’ in industry as part of my four-year St Martins course - a great way to get a taste for what’s out there. I won a placement through the RSA Design Competition with Next Plc., assisting the design team there for 14 weeks. Then I worked for Fake London, a cutting-edge brand specialising in one-off recycled cashmere pieces. Finally, I worked for Geoff St James, a designer with a store in Covent Garden specialising in menswear and print.

How did you decide your career was the right one for you?

I always loved playing with ideas, designing and creating, and so my career path just led me to fit as much creativity in as I could. I’ve been lucky enough to be allowed the freedom to get excited and exercise my creativity in all of the jobs that I’ve taken. As long as I get excited and enjoy what I do, I feel I’m on the right path.

How did you get your current job?

I’m currently designing lingerie for a company in Hong Kong / China called Crystal Martin, and I’m the Senior Designer on the Victoria’s Secret account. I was looking for a career move from a smaller company and the position came up in Hong Kong/China. I hadn’t been planning to work overseas, but when I interviewed out there and was offered the job, the opportunity was too good to miss.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love travelling, being in Hong Kong / China, New York, Paris, Barcelona, Tokyo... And I love getting positive responses from the designs I submit, and getting the teams excited with mood boards and clothing samples.

Conversely, what’s the worst thing about your job?

The travel!! Fun though it is, it can be exhausting to move around so much. Also, now that I’m based in the UK rather than Hong Kong / China, working by myself all day in my little studio can be isolating. I prefer working with a team.

What does your typical day consist of?

I get up early to catch up with emails from Hong Kong / China before they leave the office (they’re 7-8 hours ahead). I deal with any work that has come through and then work on whichever big projects are sitting in the background. Often there’s a lot of prepping for meetings, creating trend boards and samples. I research the market a lot, both online and comp shopping for emerging trends, and I try to incorporate these into my design work.

Where do you hope to go in the future?

Perhaps my own brand… and not necessarily entirely in the lingerie market! I believe that my experiences could lend an exciting slant to a very different sort of venture. I’m a great believer in cross-pollination in design fields.

Do you have any advice for students who may be unsure about which career path to choose?

I would say that you owe it to yourself to choose something that you love. It might be something simple like working with people, reading books, nature, numbers or colours. Think about which things give you a sense of satisfaction. Even if you don’t have exactly the right skill-set to perfectly fit your dream career, if you head out in that direction and are prepared to be flexible you can apply your skills and work towards your goal. If you have a passion for something it will shine through.

Alternatively, choose something that you’re good at as long as it gives you satisfaction. It’s no good being the best baker in the world if buns don’t make you happy! We all spend too many years of our lives entangled in our careers to choose something that doesn’t excite us at least some of the time.