A Hard Road to the Runway: Life as a Fashion Designer

In Fashion Design, Fashion Marketing Tipsby Jessica Faith Marshall

Some days I ask myself “Why are you fourteen and doing this?”

Since I was 8-years old and got my hands on a sewing machine, I’ve been fashion designing for the sake of my vision and for the statement that I’m making. If I “just loved fashion” I would have been out and gone after producing my first collection, sobbing everyday for a week before my runway show.

Fashion is so much more than that to me!

A Step Too Far, Austin Fashion Week 2014 | Photographer: Steve Wampler www.flickr.com/photos/sgw

A Step Too Far, Austin Fashion Week 2014 | Photographer: Steve Wampler www.flickr.com/photos/sgw

My vision is well worth giving up a normal life filled with unpaid internships, runway shows, traveling to and fro, and having no relationships. It’s worth the people who disapprove. It’s worth the abnormal lifestyle. It’s worth the late nights like this one. It’s worth the sickness and endless working. Because let me tell you – after this many years of work, there is no “glamour”, very little reward, and lots of disapproval. Now I know that fashion is not just another blog post, design, or fashion show: it’s the statement I’m making.

I don’t have a ton of awards, fans, money, and people lined up to give me applause. That’s not the reality of Fashion. The realities are in the bottom line.

The Realities of Being a Fashion Designer: Time and Money

  • Designing a proper collection can take over a year. Typically, established designers launch pre-fall, fall/winter, spring/summer, and holiday collections, with a team in multiple departments and a design team for every aspect of the collection. For those without that luxury, it takes more than six months to produce a well-done collection.
  • If you want to be a designer, forget any plans to purchase a new car, upgrade your iPhone, or take a vacation. To create a full collection, host a runway show, direct a photo shoot, and complete everything on the checklist for every fashion season, expect to spend at least $20,000. CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award Winners and Creators of the Wind design team Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters, stated that they barely had $100 to spend on food for five days in New York City. They endured this while still selling pieces in stores, showcasing at Mercedes-Benz, and while being mentored by the best of the best including fashion legend Anna Wintour.
  • If you’re trying to sell a collection, you’re probably thinking “Do they like the collection? Will they buy it?” Being a designer is all about getting your name known which takes persistent effort. Nobody’s interested in helping you become famous in this industry. You have to work your way in, no matter how much it seems everyone is ignoring you. Get your foot in the door, accept lots of criticism, accept rejection, and follow up with the people who are interested.

It’s all worth the vision, the statement. That’s what matters to me. I hope it matters to you, too!

If you are a struggling designer with questions, ask me for support by emailing me at info@faithbyjessica.com. For now, it’s on to the next big thing for my brand. Keep your eye on my latest designs and collections by following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

About Jessica Faith Marshall

Jessica Faith Marshall is the founder and designer of her namesake brand, Jessica Faith Marshall. Since the beginning of her career, her brand has received press coverage in The Austin American Statesman, InFluential Magazine, The CW Austin, and other publications. She was recently selected as the winner of the Susan G. Komen Project Pink design competition against twenty other adult designers. Now, her business is currently based out of New York City where she continues to contribute as an intern for FashionMingle.net, and release seasonal collections in fashion weeks around the country.

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