This week, craft enthusiast Zeena Shah tells us about her job as a textile designer...
Zeena Shah/25/Textile Designer.
Please give us an overview of your average day.
I usually arrive at my east London studio at 10am, start off with a strong coffee and a quick check of my emails and new orders. Every day is completely different depending on the orders that need to be screen-printed and made up, whether I'm working on a special commission or my freelance design collection, or running a workshop. I love that it is totally unpredictable.
What is the most common misconception about your job?
There are so many! Most people don't realise the time it takes to create my products, from screen-printing to making the packaging. They often expect me to have a huge team of staff, but the reality is that it's mostly just me and a few lovely helpers.
What is the hardest thing about your role?
Trying not to do everything myself, and trusting my team to get the job done.
When did you decide what you wanted to do with your life and how did you set out to achieve it?
After graduating with a degree in Textile Design from Chelsea College of Art & Design, I worked in the textiles industry for a number of years for other designers and creatives. I decided I was fed up of putting all my time and energy into other people's dreams when I could be doing it for myself. So I designed, screen-printed and hand-made my own collection of home accessories, starting off with a small range of products, including cushions and bags, and began selling them at craft fairs and markets. Things slowly grew and grew. It's a great feeling being able to sell your work and have people compliment it.
What can you do to get a head start?
Work hard and be persistent – the textiles industry is tough! Try to do as much experience as you can, as those contacts could help you out in the future. Don't forget to be original and be yourself.
Could you describe the creative element to your job?
I feel so lucky to be able to do something creative everyday. I am always drawing and designing things, screen-printing and making new products. I also run craft workshops and love encouraging other people to be creative too.
What one thing do you wish you had known at the start of your career that you know now?
The freelance textiles industry is extremely competitive and there are few jobs, so it is difficult to make a living from it alone. It's a bit of a balancing act.
Which organisations/websites/resources do you think would be useful for people entering your industry?
There are so many great craft and textile forums and organisations around: Craft Guerilla, The Make Lounge and We Make are great resources, as well as ECCA for good business advice. Social networking sites are also a great way to find out about events and new designers, and an even better way to promote yourself.
For more information, go to Zeena's website.
Would you like to be featured in Job of the Week? If you work in the creative industries and would love to share your advice, expertise and experience with IdeasTap members, get in touch with our deputy editor at Luiza@ideastap.com.