Journey's End | Emily - Winchester School of Art

By Issy Goode - 20:26

The next post I'm sharing is from the Journey's End series and revisits a lovely now-graduate who partook in my second round of interviews back in 2014. Then, Emily was sharing her experience of her first year at Winchester School of Art (WSA), which you can read about here, and now she's come to the end of her Fashion and Textile Design degree and has successfully made her first steps post-graduation into her dream career. 

Here's Emily's university story...

Have you enjoyed your time at university?
My time at university has been an amazing experience, as cliché as that sounds. I have definitely grown as an individual and as a designer, in first year I couldn’t even draft my own pattern and I’ve just made a six outfit final collection from scratch. I have also learned how to stand up for myself (which has helped in my design work too) and to trust my gut instinct, as 99% of the time it is probably right. I have made friends for life (again pardon my cliché). My housemates are three of the most wonderful and supportive people I have ever met.  

Do you have any regrets? 
Absolutely none. Unfortunately my Mum passed away last October and everyone expected me to drop out or to defer a year, but I knew it would be an insult to her memory if I had given up on my education & my dream of being a designer. Especially since she was the one who taught me how to sew. Plus, if I wasn’t going to graduate with my friends, then I probably wouldn’t bother going at all.

Is there something you wish you had done but never got the chance to?
I wish that I had tried harder to get an internship in my summer between second and third year. It was not for lack of trying, however, I was quickly deterred at the lack of responses so took the decision to work full time instead and do my Visual Merchandising training with White Stuff. Though, this was in hindsight the better option for me as I went into third year much more financially stable and with a clear idea of the direction I wanted my Final Major Project (FMP) to take.

What is the highlight of your university years?
Watching my collection walk at Future Feast. This is the WSA press show where 20 out of 52 students are selected to showcase their work. It finally all seemed worth it! All the sleepless nights and the 12-hour days in the studio, which became my second home. I was also lucky enough to have my portfolio shown at the British Fashion Council Portfolio Day and Graduate Fashion Week.
Here's a snippet of Emily's collection featured on Vogue! 
Do you feel you've changed over the years?
I have grown up at a spectacular rate, particularly in the last eight months, as I have had to develop an extremely adult approach to my life to get me though my final major project without having a complete breakdown. Nineteen year old me who moved into halls in September 2013 would never have thought that she would become the person I am today. 

Has your friendship group changed much?
It has definitely gotten smaller; I think that happened more so when we moved out of halls, as everyone split off into their houses and gradually started hanging out less. Though in third year I definitely got closer to my course mates, mainly cause we were spending so much time together as we were all in the studio all day every day!

What do you deem as your biggest achievements? 
Not dropping out after my mum passed away, keeping my job throughout second and third year, graduating with a first class honours and landing myself a job straight out of uni at a Menswear design company. 

Do you feel like going to uni has been worthwhile? 
Definitely. In the Fashion Industry you are rarely taken seriously without at least a BA in a relevant subject. However regardless of this studying full time has taught me so many skills, and I have had the chance to hone my craft without the pressures of learning on the job. You take more risks, as there is less at stake, because if you make a mistake there is time to fix it before the final hand in at the end of the semester. Also I am extremely lucky that I have some of the most supportive tutors, who have replied to my emails at all hours and dealt with my most indecisive moments spectacularly.  

What are your plans now? 
I have just moved three years worth of stuff back to my Dad’s house (which he is not happy about), and as I write this I am on the train to London to look for a place to live ahead of starting my new job at the end of July (which Emily has now started thanks to my staggered posts!). 

How do you feel about graduation day (which has also now happened already!)
I am extremely nervous! I am petrified I will fall over on the stage and I don’t have a dress yet (as a fashion student this is a massive deal). I’m also just wishing I didn’t have to go; it’s not going to be the graduation I had hoped for, as my Mum won’t be there. However, I know that I will definitely regret it if I don’t go, plus my dad would never forgive me, he is more excited than I am.   

What do you recall as your best night out? 
I’m not sure about best, but my favourite nights were always random Sunday evenings in the Black Boy (the weirdest/best pub in Winchester) where we would have a couple of ciders and play board games, before climbing (scrambling) up St Giles. 

How did Freshers' Week feel as a third year?
I wasn’t even really aware that freshers was even happening in third year because I was still working full time and frantically trying to get my summer project/report finished (last minute as always)!

How did your nights out change as uni progressed? 
More quiet pints in the pub, and drinks all cozied up in the living room watching films than crazy nights out. Mainly due to not having the time or the money to go out out, as being a fashion student is horrendously expensive.  

Would you do it all again?
In a heartbeat, though next time I wouldn’t leave basically all my sewing to the last week before garment hand in. I still don’t know how I got it all done but, by some miracle, I did.

What are your plans now? 
Move to London and sleep on Tegen’s sofa for the foreseeable future, whilst I try to find a more permanent living situation. 

What advice would you give to students going into their final year? 
To your best ability plan ahead whether it is an FMP or your dissertation, develop a routine (it will save your sanity) and allow yourself some “you” time (procrastination) every once in a while, you are only human after all.  

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