becoming a designer: Brandy of Baby Blackbird

August 26th, 2011

I am so happy to introduce you to our next guest in my Becoming a Designer series – her name is Brandy, and she runs the amazing kids style blog Baby Blackbird as well as doing product development freelance work. I love her story, because I think she has a great perspective of what it’s like to work in the fashion industry. 

I know you will absolutely love reading her story! Once you’re done, be sure to visit her blog, it’s one of my daily reads.

People are always very fascinated and intrigued as soon as I tell them I work in the Fashion Industry, then it quickly turns to confusion when I tell them what I actually do in the industry, I am a ‘Fashion Designer’ but I have worked as a Product Developer for the past 8 years….

I had been interested, OK maybe a little bit obsessed (my family would strongly disagree with the ‘little bit’) with clothes since I was teeny tiny. Started with changing my outfits several times a day, to dabbling in sewing (most of my sewing projects were presents, cause I was usually so tired of looking at whatever it was once I was done, that I had to give it away anyways), spending all my hard earned money on clothes (really, I worked to shop, not very smart). I always knew I needed to be immersed in a creative field but it really wasn’t till I graduated from High School (and my kind Aunt put the bug in my ear) that I realized Fashion was totally my creative language.

My husband and I packed up and moved across the country where I attended College, graduating from Fashion Design. College was a bit like Project Runway; everyone was over worked, stressed, lot’s of creative minds clashing, but whoa what an amazing 2 years of no sleep! I knew near the end of school after interning for an Indie designer that; the hands on, slaving away wasn’t really for me. While I loved working on the details (pattern drafting , cutting, sewing, prepping shows), my passion really lied with the creating, illustrating  and the other back end tiny details. I was super intrigued with retail, and the mass market of fashion, being creative but appealing to the masses, totally a skill I wanted to acquire.

My first job was with Canada’s largest retailer (well It was, it’s no longer owned by Canuck’s) I started as an Assistant Product Developer (paid my dues at the bottom).

Product Development is exactly as it sounds, you develop product, it’s designing while keeping the bigger picture in mind (sales, what’s on trend, what’s happening on the street, etc) along with all the business stuff (sourcing, tiny details of tech packs, selling to buyers, etc). That is the part most people get confused about, product what

I was lucky enough to work in many commodities (knits, sweaters, sleep, bottoms, swim, sport, underwear, etc) and genders and I learnt a TON. I grew and moved to another company, learning even more, and growing, and growing (I won’t bore you with all the details of my past lives).

Now I have two little kids, a husband and a blog, I also do freelance product development/consulting when possible and I have another fashionable side project I am working on with a couple other amazing bloggers (very excited about this one!). My full time job is my family, but my passion project is my blog/freelance/coming soon!. While I was pregnant with my daughter I started  my blog: Baby Blackbird, which is a fashion blog of sorts but on a miniature scale. I use my passion and experience in the world fashion and it sorta mixed with my love for my kids and bing bang boom, a kids’ fashion/family life and style obsessed blog (of sorts)!

Fashion is one of those things that will always be a pretty huge part of me, if I decide to go back to my ‘technical’ career in it or stay on my own passion projects . It is one of those slightly mysterious industries that a lot of people are always dreaming of working in. It’s fantastic, but it definitely requires a love, a pretty big passion and probably a small amount of crazy. It is way less dreamy and much more; working crazy hours, doing 20 million things at a time, while trying to be creative and sell your vision.

For those who want to start or have a true passion I would suggest talking to someone who is working or has worked in the industry (get the true picture), visit a college and speak to the instructors/students (see if school is the route for you). And be ready to work your booty off especially when you are just starting out. If you want to make it (whatever your personal definition of making it is) you need to be willing to do anything and to do it your best (even the smallest tasks), as doing everything your given well, and with a smile are what will help you to succeed and “make it” in this industry. Good Luck!

Becoming a Designer series by Megan Nielsen

5 Responses

  1. [...] please come over to Megan Nielsen Design Diary, I’m guest posting on how I started in the fashion [...]

  2. Melanie says:

    Brandy you are true inspiration. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

  3. Glorianna says:

    Hello! I want to start by saying I LOVE The Baby Blackbird blog! I discovered it just this summer from the blog, Stroller in the City. I have a VERY similar story- changing clothes several times a day, sewing barbie clothes and odd pieces, working and saving pennies to spend on the latest duds at Contempo Casuals, Foxmoor. I never wanted to be a designer, not sure why, but I love styling, merchandising and the selling and buying aspects. I attended the Academy of Art University in San Fran for a semester in their Fashion Merchandising program, but realized I could just work for Nordstrom or another department store or boutique and work my way up to be a buyer. I am now a Communication/PR major- and it is my passion. Ideally I would love to be selling, pitching, and representing designers and stores I love. I really love Baby Blackbird because you can see her passion for clothing funneled into her family and little people, extensions of her. Very fun, inspiring and positive! I started my Denver based fashion blog three years ago, and I’m not sure where it will go, but for now, it’s just a creative outlet. Great post!

  4. Kristin says:

    Such an inspirational post and as a mommy and ‘fashion designer’ myself, I related so so much! Great story and I wish you luck with all of your future projects!!

  5. Great post! Such an interesting feature to share :)

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