Creative Jobs in the Fashion Industry

Creative Jobs in the Fashion Industry: The Best Role You Didn’t Know Existed

When it comes to creative jobs in the fashion industry, most people think of things like design and trend forecasting. And at a glance, those are the obvious “creative” roles. You get to work with color, look for inspiration, and create new silhouettes

But you know what happens when you work in a creative job in the fashion industry? Season after season, many designers get bored. They’re working for the same brand, designing for the same customer, and collections blend together.

So even in the most creative roles in fashion, you may not stay fulfilled for long. Because a lot of designers get sick of after working on the same stuff year over year.

So, how do you keep yourself creatively challenged if your design job isn’t, well, doing the job?!

The Best Creative “Job” In Fashion You Didn’t Know Existed 

The best creative “job” in fashion that will keep you fulfilled infinitely is one that no one talks about. Because most people don’t even know it exists. Or if they do, they misunderstand its meaning and get sucked into an abusive role.

So, what is the best creative “job”? It’s actually not a “job” at all.

It’s a Career as a Successful Fashion Freelancer

Creative Jobs in the Fashion Industry: Freelancer

Now when I say “freelancer,” I don’t mean abusive “permalance” roles like these:

Freelance Fashion Design Permalance Job

This is what most fashion designers think of when they hear the word freelancing. That’s because the industry has trained us to think that a “temp job” is freelancing.

40 hour/week jobs where you’re committed to one brand full-time is not freelancing. It’s abusive and in many states, it’s illegal. You’re required to show up and act like an employee, but don’t get any of the benefits. When the project is over in 3 months, you’re unemployed again.

When I say “freelancer,” I mean true remote freelancing where you work with multiple clients, on your own terms, doing a variety of projects you love. And that’s where the creative “job” part gets a serious boost (as well as your paycheck).

As a Freelance Fashion Designer, You Get to Work on a Variety of Creative Projects (instead of the same “job” everyday)

As a true remote freelancer, you’re not “stuck” working on the same collections for the same brand season after season.

Sure, you’ll likely have long term clients that you work with for multiple seasons. But to keep flexing your creative muscle, you’ll also have other clients and different projects to work on. 

It’s a lot harder to get bored when you get to choose your projects, like Freelance Accelerator: from Surviving to Thriving (FAST) grad Alison.

“My favorite things [about freelancing] are setting my own schedule and being able to choose my clients so I work with people I enjoy on projects that I love doing!

Alison Hoenes, patternmaking, Missouri

The majority of our FAST students find the most fulfillment from working on projects they’re passionate about.

“I also really love being able to work on so many different types of projects with different clients. It never gets monotonous or boring! I feel that I’m always learning with freelancing, which you don’t always get to do when you’ve been at the same company for a long time.”

Sarah Ward, hosiery design, Canada

During my time inhouse, I was creatively stifled like a lot of designers who work for the same brand for a while. Even though I only worked as an employee for less than two years before I kicked off my decade-long freelance career, I was bored.

Beyond that, I was sick of the demanding schedule and toxic work environment.

Because something that most people don’t know about fashion is that many workplaces in the industry aren’t the most healthy.

No matter how creative the role is…

Working in-house in the fashion industry can be brutal AF.

Coworkers are backstabbing and competitive. Bosses are demanding and vicious. The workload bleeds into nights and weekends.

I lived and breathed this life for 1.5 short years during my time in a “creative” job as a fashion designer. Sure, I had chances to let my creative wheels spin. But my anxiety also spun…out of control.

Not only was I creatively unfulfilled, it was the most toxic time of my life.

(And if you think starting your own clothing line is the best creative “job” in fashion, think again.)

But I wasn’t ready to give up on the fashion industry. I did love the creative side of the job, and I knew there had to be a way to do it on my own terms.

So back in 2009, I decided to try freelancing. I had no idea what I was doing, how to land creative projects, set my pricing or present my portfolio. Which is why year 1, I made $0.

Literally nothing. Zero. Nada.

At that point, most people would give up. But I could feel my big break around the next corner. And it sure AF was.

Year two I tripled my full-time salary.

Year three, I hit $100k+.

Not only was I making serious cash working part-time (20-30 hours a week) on my own terms, I was getting to do the creative work I loved.

I got to choose what brands I worked with, and was free to fire clients that bored me (or I just didn’t like).

For a lot of freelancers I know, this empowerment is priceless.

Freelancing in fashion - walk away from clients

And for a lot of our FAST grads, like Mari, a sustainable knit sweater designer in NYC,  freelancing is the most fulfilling work of their career.

“It has ended up being the best work that I’ve done in my career so far. They see me as a professional and they really value my creative opinion. I’m proud of putting my work out there and I feel more fulfilled by it. Which is very nice because I wasn’t used to that in my full-time jobs.”

Mari Medina, knit sweater designer, New York

Stop Looking for the Best Creative “Job” In Fashion. Be a Freelancer Instead.

Like many fashion designers, you may not get long term creative fulfillment from a full-time job. Boredom can set in quickly after a couple seasons working on the same product line.

But as a fashion freelancer, you’ll have the best creative “job” out there doing a variety of projects you love (plus a much better work-life balance and higher earning potential).



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