four Canadian girls in London

adoring,blog friends,interviews — Danielle on March 29, 2011 at 8:21 am

When you’re a Canadian fashion girl in London, the first people you meet are other Canadian girls. They’re the ones with friends in common, and let’s face it – Canadian girls rock.

Besides our nationality, our fashion focus and our shared awesomeness, we’re all so different! Different dreams, vastly different aesthetics, unique talents. When we get together our conversations cover similar ground, and we offer each other encouragement, but we are all on our own trips. Taking on London on our own, together.

I sent a little email interview to a few of my favourite Canadian girls to give you a state of the union when it comes to landing in London and pursuing fashion freedom. To be fair, I also interviewed myself.

Ashley Godsman is a tailor. She is a reader of the blog and she arrived in London around the same time I did. She reached out to me and I’m glad – she’s one of the hardest workers I know and she is always smiling.

How old are you?

24

How long have you been in London?

Since October 2010.

What are you seeking in London?

After working in the design industry in Montreal, Canada for the past few years, I was seeking to expand my knowledge and skill set on a global level. I wanted to specialize in (men’s) suiting, and I wanted to learn from the best; leading me to Savile Row in search of an apprenticeship, and hopefully after a few years, a position as a cutter.

Highlights so far?

Being given the opportunity to go in and work with an amazing tailoring house. It took a little bit of courage and a lot of luck! Seeing the amount of people that come into these houses seeking apprenticeships, and work experience on a day-to-day basis is incredible. There is absolutely nothing that sets me apart from the others, so it does make me feel grateful for being able to go in and do what I love.

I cannot say enough about the team of people I get to interact with everyday, they are some of the most patient, and incredibly knowledgeable people I have ever worked with; I wouldn’t be able to find this kind of experience anywhere else.

Lowlights so far?

When you hear about London being one of the most expensive cities to live in, they weren’t lying.

When I’m not at the tailors, I’m working a part time job, and a day off is few and far between. This city is constantly on the go and doesn’t wait for anyone. I don’t have time to feel tired, and knowing how quickly I could be replaced makes me work that much harder. In my spare time I’ll be going over how to draft a trouser pattern for a specific client, or practicing buttonholes.

What advice could you offer someone who is considering moving to London to work in fashion?

Perseverance, eventually it will pay off. You’ll push yourself harder than you ever thought, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Anything is possible; it just depends on how much you’re willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it.

Sarah Joynt is a writer. I first met her when she was working as a PR assistant extraordinaire for Knot PR in Toronto. Her PR employers love her, and rightly so – she’s incredibly detail oriented, a conscientious observer with a keen sense of what really matters in the fashion business. In London, she’s using these talents towards a freelance writing career.

How old are you?

22

How long have you been in London?

Just over a year and a half.

What are you seeking in London?

Opportunity. I am ambitious, almost to a fault, and always looking for bigger and better opportunities. Whilst in Toronto I was working in PR and writing a bit on the side and I came here looking to become a magazine slave or work as someone’s assistant but have ended up writing on my own and am really enjoying it. Having the freedom choose who and what I write about, and get paid for it, has been a real career booster because my writing is always better when I’m passionate about the subject.

Highlight so far?

Receiving a handwritten note from a *big* designer thanking me for my review was definitely an unexpected highlight. This past fashion week was a big turning point for me because I finally felt like I was a player in the game rather than someone peeking in from the sidelines.

Lowlight so far?

In terms of my career, being in an environment without a solid network is always hard but even more so when you’re a freelancer. It’s been a bit of a struggle to make a name for myself and I think I’m only just starting to remind people that I live here. Working for international publications has been fantastic for my career but it means that people aren’t sure of my home base. Also, I was mugged a few months after I arrived which was a major low.

What advice could you offer someone who is considering moving to London to work in fashion?

Be prepared for it to be a very different market than Toronto or New York (or wherever you’re coming from outside the UK). There are a still a lot of old school people running things here and it takes some getting used to. My best advice is to be strategic about where you live. As a freelancer I need a strong home base and London is huge so finding somewhere you feel comfortable can really help with the settling in process.

Cristina Sabaiduc is a designer. She is also an artist who loves exploring unconventional materials. I first discovered her when I saw her grad collection in Toronto – it featured gowns that transformed magnetically, embellished with flowers of iron filings, textiles made from hardware supplies like caulking and mesh. Besides being inventive, she is a true adventuress – a global gallivanter, all guts and glory.

How old are you?

23

How long have you been in London?

Six months.

What are you seeking in London?

An exploration of myself as a person and a designer. This city is so big and has so much to offer across so many disciplines; I feel like I’ve just had to open my eyes and take a second to see the vast possibilities. I hope to develop my career as a designer, in regards to my own line, and collaborating ventures.

Highlight so far?

Meeting everyone I have thus far has been an amazing experience; it’s really showed the many facets of the art and fashion world in London. The two most memorable highlights would be getting to assist with show production on on-site and off-site shows during my first fashion week here and the upcoming debut of my work at Debut Contemporary in Notting Hill.

Lowlight so far?

Probably every other day when you may feel even a nanosecond of self doubt. Moving to a new city and aspiring to work in this really tough industry can get to you at times, and I find I create my own lows as I’m my toughest critic. I can’t say I’ve had an extremely low experience or maybe I’ve just blocked it out of my memory.

What advice could you offer someone who is considering moving to London to work in fashion?

Research. I had planned to move to London for awhile but had barely anytime to pack my life up before leaving, let alone research. What I did the first three months here, I could have easily done before I moved (and started paying ridiculous rent). From little things like what’s the equivalent of Future Shop or Shopper’s Drug Mart to what studios and pr agencies are based in London. Getting a bible to the city (London A to Z) would be beneficial for anyone hoping to call this city their home.

And as for the industry, it’s small (surprisingly), so study it and be open to what you may encounter, London has a way of leading you down a path you didn’t think was possible.

Danielle Meder is me. I’m a fashion illustrator and blogger.

How old are you?

28.

How long have you been in London?

Since November 2010.

What are you seeking in London?

I’m looking to develop contacts and clients, both here and around Europe. As a freelance fashion illustrator, I’ve built a decent level of visibility online and a strong personal network in Toronto where I lived for eight years, but the end goal is to be an illustrator with an international reputation and the clients to match. London is a great base because of its proximity to so many other international fashion capitals.

Highlights so far?

I’ve met a number people who I’ve admired and been inspired by from afar. In particular, David Downton (who I consider the world’s best living fashion illustrator), and Colin McDowell (a brilliant writer, well known collector of fashion illustration, and vivid connection to fashion’s fading memory) both complimented my work in person, which gave me the sense of validation and encouragement I truly needed – an irrefutable confirmation that I do in fact have the talent as well as the ambition.

Lowlights so far?

The sheer level of rejection you face as a newcomer in a competitive environment is truly difficult to learn how to handle. Emails disappear into the ether, faces turn away from you at parties, and questions get ignored. There is tremendous pressure to work for free, which is something I’m not prepared to do at this stage in my career or life. The feeling of being somewhat behind as I’m very much in the same boat as a lot of 20-24 year olds. I’m not going to lie, it is impossible not to succumb to discouragement every once in a while.

What advice could you offer someone who is considering moving to London to work in fashion?

Develop a thicker skin – be prepared to weather the very British “yes that means no”. Take a philosophical approach to the ups and downs, and a practical approach to living your life – be frugal, find a side gig. Be incredibly tenacious, because the girl who gets the gig is the one who refuses to give up.

Most of all, always remember to be grateful that you are able to pursue your dream, in a city that is so full of history and knowledge and creativity.

 

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    5 Comments »

    1. Great post Danielle – sometimes I toy with the idea of moving to Paris, and it’s great to be reminded of the challenges involved in such a change as well as the joys. All the best!

      Comment by Ayalah — March 29 2011 @ 1:18 pm
    2. GUTS – thats what you girls have!

      Comment by joi (stereoette) — March 29 2011 @ 5:42 pm
    3. WOW David Downton, he’s truly amazing. So awesome he complimented you!

      Comment by Wendy — March 30 2011 @ 2:58 am
    4. great post.

      Comment by bare — March 31 2011 @ 5:35 am
    5. [...] The @TimesFashion tweeted a challenge to design a wedding dress for Princess Kate, which Sarah Joynt pointed out to me as an opportunity to maybe win some London press. Didn’t I mention she had a keen mind for PR? [...]

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