Monday, 8 August 2016

How to Become a Textile Designer

Today we had a chat with the talented Rebecaa Osewa who creates and sells unique designs to fashion and homeware designers with a focus on the African fashion market that requires bespoke looks and seasonal prints. She owns her own business (Rebecca Osewa Textiles Design LTD) and is based in London. 

Rebecca is an entrepreneur and is currently working on building her brand and taking over the world. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a designer, read on!

So tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Rebecca Osewa, I am 23 years old and a textile designer from South London.

What does a textile designer do?
A textile designer looks at inspirations that support their creativity and there are two main sectors: interior design and fashion. I previously had an emphasis on fashion design but now I am rebranding to spread my designs to a wider market.

Did you always want to be a designer?
No, previously I wanted to be a lawyer because people always used to tell me that I was good at arguing and standing my ground, so I thought that trait would help me if I went into law. But when it came down to choosing my subjects at GCSE I tried out the Law class; I found it so boring that I ended up bringing out my science textbook! So that was the end of that.

So what made you decide to go for design?
It was something that I fell into, I didn't know that I had the skill to be a designer but a friend of mine at school had a detention in art class. I was waiting for her and because I was bored, I just got a pen and paper and some paint and started playing, drawing random things. I'd never felt so connected to creativity and I enjoyed everything that I was doing; so I picked it as a GCSE option and that's where my journey began. 

After university did you get a job in your field?
No, I have actually never worked for a textile company before. I've done some internships - one that comes to mind is a placement I had with Marian Rudy, who is based in Bethnal Green, just to get an insight into how the industry works. After university I went to Ghana for two months to do some research and I worked for a textile company there, which was all experience to help me understand the craft behind everything I do. I always knew I wanted to be my own boss and a leader, as I know within myself that I have a lot to give to the world.

How easy was it for you to get your internships?
It was quite easy as my CV ticked all of the right boxes. I had done creative subjects at GCSE, then in college I did a BTEC national in fashion and textiles, then also at University. So I had never really done anything else other than design.

How did you find the BTEC?
It was a 2 year college course, and for me it was more beneficial than doing A-Levels because I knew what I wanted career-wise; to take other unrelated subjects would have been a waste of time for me. So I did it to perfect my skills and it was during this time that I actually started textile-making as we didn't cover this in GCSEs.

What is your favourite part of what you do?
I feel like I'm creating my own world, bringing what I have in my mind to life. You're creating something that no-one else could because its coming from you. So it's the uniqueness of the designing process that I like.

Is there anything that you don't like?
As a start-up you spread yourself quite thin, so you're not just creating your designs you also have to sell it and do everything else involved with running the business including the social media etc. This can be quite draining and stressful, as you want to concentrate on the designs and creating but you have to give a lot of your time to the business aspects.

Is there anything about being a designer you thought would be one way but turned out to be another?
Definitely! My business plan has changed a lot; originally my plan was to create unique luxury textiles for bridal wear and that was always the dream. As I have gone into designing and positioning myself in the market I have fallen into things completely different. My ideas and the influence of my designs have been the same but what it has ended up being for has changed.
Some of Rebecca's fabric designs from her Autumn / Winter 2017 collection.
What tips would you give to anyone who is in school now and is interested in becoming a designer?
One tip I would give is that if you are in school and you want to become a designer then network; I started networking when I was 15. When I was younger there was an organisation called Connexions and they used to run sessions with a lot of different activities during the summer; so if there are summer programs in your local community then throw yourself at those opportunities - I would get involved in anything relating to creativity. When I was 18 there was a project called Set Fashion Free which focused on African textiles and setting it free to become something that we can wear today. I did that when I was 18 and now I'm 23, so it was a while ago but the memory is something that I hold on to and it helps me keep my momentum going forward. In short, if you want to be a designer, focus on your dream and try and surround yourself with as many related things as possible. Also, if you have a career-focus already, don't think it's a bad thing to do a BTEC instead of A-Levels like everyone else.

What were your best and worst subjects in school?
The three I liked and gave my all to were English, Business Studies, and Art and Design. The subject that I couldn't stand and still to today doesn't make sense to me is Science.

What was your least favourite aspect of school in general?
For me the most challenging thing was being my own person. When you are young you have a tendency to fall into groups and friends; this can stop you from having your own identity because you just do what everyone else is doing to fit in. At the school I went to, everyone always had their own batch, and if you didn't have your own group or batch you weren't seen as anything. It's really about being able to stand alone and pursue what you want to do without thinking "oh this person is going to laugh at me because I am going to the library". So yeah, the most challenging part was standing alone and being my own person.

And the best aspect of school?
When I got to Year 10, my teacher who saw the amount of passion and dedication I was already showing for design brought in a teacher who was one of his friends to support me with one of the projects that I was doing. Little did I know then but she does print-designing which is what I do now, but above that, she's the print-designer for Calvin Klein. I didn't even know she was involved in textiles at the time because GCSE Art and Design didn't cover that, but making that connection was the best part for me because we are still in contact now.

What was the biggest thing that you took from your school experience?
Becoming independent and knowing what I want and being able to pursue it with the support of my teachers. This helped me cement what I wanted to do and I was confident because I had the support from the teachers going in.

Do you have any advice or tips about getting through school?
A lot of people used to say I was a slow learner and that I might not be able to do well in school. I was marked down as being dyslexic so I was always in the bottom set and wasn't the brightest. But what helped me build up my confidence was that I never stopped believing in myself. Things were hard and teachers often predicted low grades for me but I knew what I was aiming for. Being organised and keeping my circle small also helped me a lot. So the tips I have for people is be organised and keep your circle small.

Any parting remarks?
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is that you are able to write down your vision on paper and this gives you the ability to create your own legacy.

About the author:
Yusuf is one of the directors of South London Tutors, an organisation that provides affordable tuition to young people in the local community and offers services to help them with careers. Check out our website to for more information about what we do and the tutor services we offer.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

How to Start Winning at Your Studies

Dopamine - aaaah that sweet nectar that seems to be responsible for so many different things ranging from addiction, learning, success and varying destructive habits that almost certainly guarantee to keep us from our goal of success. It’s ironic that the role of dopamine is to help us learn new things and is almost definitely one of the key causes of procrastination.

When we experience a pleasurable sensation such as getting that Facebook or Instagram like, getting the heads up of what went down in the playground in the other day, having an epic killing spree in COD, watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones etc. (you get the general drift), the brain releases dopamine which reinforces this behaviour, making you want to do more of it. 

When you add that to the fact that we place more emphasis on rewards immediately available to us than rewards further in the future, this spells trouble for us in terms of getting essential revision done and staying on top of academic studies.

When you also factor in that a lot of us really don’t appreciate the need for that grade or the effect that it can have on our choices going forward in life, then not engaging with your studies is a logical response.

So that there is the challenge; what is the solution? How can we avoid the mind-numbing boredom and heavy sense of sleepiness that overcomes us every time we sit down to revise or start a piece of work?

Here are some things that can help: 

1. Take control of your destiny.

African parents love saying, “you think you are deceiving me, it's yourself you are deceiving - well done”. If you want to start winning at your studies you have to appreciate its relevance. While it is true that there are lots of options available to you if you don’t want to go down the academic route, there are a lot of options which become infinitely easier for you if you do.

Certain jobs require specific university degrees that ask for specific grades in certain subjects. If you want a career in one of these fields then doing well in those subjects is imperative.

At a more basic level it comes down to thinking about what it is you want to do. This can be quite scary and you may not come to a firm conclusion; that being said having solid academic grades gives you more options than if you don’t have good grades. The point to take home here is that no matter how young or old you are, at the end of the day regardless of the injustice of poor teachers and cruel circumstances, if you do well or not, you will have to live with it.

Sometimes just appreciating that by taking your studies by the scruff, you are taking control of your future and your destiny can make studying less of a repressive past-time.

2. Try and have fun.

Old Lady or Young Lady??

You may say that there is nothing fun about studying; sometimes life is all about perspective.

If you start to challenge yourself and your performance and compare it to how you have done in previous tests or compared to other people in your class. This can help add incentive to study sessions. Boxers often say they train hard to give them the confidence that they have trained harder than their opponent and so will be victorious. If you start with competing against your classmates you can then raise the level to try and be the best in your school, and if you achieve that, then the borough or even the country!

3.  Chunk it up

Smaller pieces of work add up
As we said at the beginning, we appreciate immediate victories over drawn-out affairs. So if we set ourselves smaller targets like finishing a particular topic or subsection of a full essay then we can reward ourselves just with the satisfaction of knowing that we have completed that stage of things. 

If you think of video games, they are never just one big stage or level, progressively getting through each stage is generally where the fun is at - so break it down into parts.

4. A little help from your friends

The tip I will finish with for now is to try and recruit your friends to your cause. Studying with your friends can make it feel less like hard work. This may not be actually sitting down to work together if that would be too much of a distraction but try and have performance leagues and compete against each other. Also help each other with explanations and motivation.

About the author:
Yusuf is one of the directors of South London Tutors, an organisation that provides affordable tuition to young people in the local community and offers services to help them with careers. Check out our website to for more information about what we do and the tutor services we offer.