Freelance Pattern Cutter

180: How This Pattern Cutter Freelanced for Alexander McQueen (While Still in Fashion School)

Listen to the new podcast episode!

Here’s what you’ll find in today’s episode:

Imagine freelancing for one of the biggest names in the fashion industry while still in fashion school

If you’re thinking that’s impossible, then listen to today’s episode to hear how our guest, Jade Wei, a freelance pattern cutter, did just that – landing a freelance gig with Alexander McQueen!

From interning to launching her own brand, Jade opens up about the unique path she took in the fashion industry. Discover how she consistently attracts clients, raises her prices, and maintains her creative freedom. With an uplifting and inspiring perspective on life, Jade shares her insights into both the fashion world and the journey of finding your own passion. Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast or simply someone looking for a boost of motivation, this episode will leave you feeling inspired to embrace your own unique path and create a brand that makes a meaningful impact.


About Our Guest

Jade is a freelance designer based in London, specializing in 3D pattern-making, garment, and product development for brands with similar creative and world-view ethos.

Born in Taiwan, she moved to the UK at the age of 18 to pursue an education and a career in fashion. She studied at Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion with various technical qualifications in between.

With 17+ years of knowledge and experience in the fashion industry, she works for a range of luxury brands including Alexander McQueen, Theory, and ClothSurgeon as well as designing for independent designers, developing garments that have sold in retailers including Net-A-Porter, Mr. Porter, Selfridges, Liberty, and Harrods. Jade launched her own and ever-evolving brand and creative platform, ATELIER WCMF, to provide bespoke creations, freelance services with limited quantities of clothing and accessories.

She never stops learning and has recently begun to merge the digital and physical fashion worlds, using emerging technology to create advanced technical services for fashion brands, enhancing both the experience and sustainability for the client, as well as opening herself up to new markets in the digital world.

Connect with Jade:

Heidi [00:00:00]:

In this episode, I’m chatting with Jade Wei, a freelance fashion designer, pattern cutter, and one of my Fast students. Jade started her freelance career back in 2006 when she got the opportunity to freelance for Alexander McQueen while she was still finishing her degree at Central St. Martin’s. When she told me this, I was like, her entire career is inspiring and impressive. Jade has her own brand and she freelances a mix that she feels gives her the most creative freedom and life freedom. We talk about all sorts of things, from how she’s continued to get clients during her 17 year freelance career, how she’s raised her prices, and why she invested in Fast, my program on freelancing and fashion, even though she’d already established herself as a freelancer for over a decade. Jade’s view on the fashion industry, the world, and life in general is uplifting, inspiring, and magnetic. Whether you’re listening or watching, I really hope that you can hear or see how much we were both glowing during this fun conversation. Let’s get to it. Jade, welcome to the podcast. Please start out by giving everybody a quick intro about who you are and what you do in the fashion industry.

Jade Wei [00:01:10]:

I am a freelance designer and pattern maker. I guess that’s what you say because we call it pattern cutter in ah, okay.

Heidi [00:01:18]:

Pattern maker. Pattern cutter, okay.

Jade Wei [00:01:20]:

Yeah. And then I specializing contemporary functional, I would say human wear, but using 3D. Yeah. And then I also have my own brand, which I’m offering like capsule collection, but it’s only made to order, but also bespoke services for one of a kind pieces.

Heidi [00:01:42]:

Okay, yeah, very cool. And you’re in London?

Jade Wei [00:01:46]:

Yeah, I’m in London.

Heidi [00:01:47]:

You’re in London, okay. How long have you been there?

Jade Wei [00:01:49]:

I came to UK 2001 and I came to London for uni, like, 2003 years, 20 years anniversary.

Heidi [00:01:57]:

And you came from Taiwan. Taiwan.

Jade Wei [00:01:59]:

Yes, taiwan.

Heidi [00:02:00]:

So tell us about the start of your freelance career. When did that all kick off?

Jade Wei [00:02:06]:

Actually, because I went to Central Samaritan for my BA, like fashion design in women’s wear. And for that course, you can choose like three years or four years. And with the four years, like, the third year, you actually get to choose, like, they call it industrial placement year. So then I kind of choose the four year course. So on that year, I just start intern at some designer brand and then I think from there I started getting freelance jobs there.

Heidi [00:02:37]:

Wait, when was that?

Jade Wei [00:02:38]:


Heidi [00:02:39]:

Oh, wow.

Jade Wei [00:02:41]:


Heidi [00:02:41]:

I had no idea that it was that far back.

Jade Wei [00:02:45]:

Yeah, but it’s always been like it’s not like my full time job, like freelancing. It’s always on the side because I think since then I always have this I want to build my own brand. That’s why I come here to study fashion. And I always only have my own brand, so I guess freelancing is always on the side and in the Sense. It’s almost like, yeah, make good money, but then end up supporting my brand to build my brand. So, like, saving money from working for other brands and then saving up to get the funding, and then I can fund my own brand to start.

Heidi [00:03:19]:

Yeah. Okay.

Jade Wei [00:03:21]:

Yeah. So that was the beginning.

Heidi [00:03:22]:

That was the beginning back in 2006.

Jade Wei [00:03:25]:

Yeah. And I graduated 2007 from CSM. Yeah.

Heidi [00:03:30]:

But you just started getting clients like that last year of school. Talk to me about that. How did that actually work?

[00:03:37] Getting a Fashion Internship

Jade Wei [00:03:37]:

I did three months internship, I guess, that year. I just applied for so many internships. Actually, two, I think two. I went to Borough Aksu, and then Alexander McQueen. And then there are other independent designer I work for as well. And they just have their independent client they work with, or they like freelance designer themselves. I work with this Korean designer. She works for Chloe or even Celine and then all the big brands. So I will work with her on projects. But she’s a freelancer, so you’re freelancing.

Heidi [00:04:13]:

Freelancing for another freelancer.

Jade Wei [00:04:15]:

Yeah. And also, I think she inspired me to kind of like no. Yeah, you don’t have to work in other studio or work with one brand, like, full time. I think how it start is when I did internship at McQueen, when they stopped three months, it was three months. And they offered me a job. They said if I want to stay on, I was in women’s wear. And they offered me, do I want to kind of join their menswear team?

Heidi [00:04:45]:


Jade Wei [00:04:47]:

Because I still have one more year to finish my BA. So I kind of didn’t take the job. And they just say, okay, what about freelancing?

Heidi [00:05:01]:

This is back in 2006 yes. For this major brand.

Jade Wei [00:05:08]:

Yeah, he was still there. So I was working with him in the Sense studio. Wow. Yeah.

Heidi [00:05:17]:

Some people are probably like, drooling. So you freelanced for Alexander McQueen while you were still in, like, what did that look like? Were you designing?

Jade Wei [00:05:28]:

I think when I was doing the internship there, I was helping with designing. They have a lot of embroidery or print or something like that. Or even I will hop on cutting table to help the pattern cutter to do show pieces and things like that, or even just sew up the show samples and things like that. So it just bits of everything, really, because it’s not a huge studio. Every part is in there. I think the freelance job is like, they would need some pieces for magazine and stuff for shoe, and then maybe there will be pieces. They just don’t have the capability to produce extra. So then I think because they know I can do the work, so they just say, okay, we got this tape hat. We give it to you, and then you can just go get the material. And then you do the pattern. You made a piece and then we’re going to send it to for example, at that time, was that Vogue Ol, like, magazine? They need this piece for shoes. Yeah.

Heidi [00:06:29]:

People would like people would kill for this.

Jade Wei [00:06:34]:

I guess that’s how I yeah. Before I know it, I was freelancing for projects already like that.

Heidi [00:06:40]:


Jade Wei [00:06:42]:


Heidi [00:06:43]:

And then was like the rest of your career just like that. Have you ever worked in house?

Jade Wei [00:06:48]:


Heidi [00:06:48]:


Jade Wei [00:06:49]:

Wow. Maybe my story is quite different. I never worked full time in any fashion houses. Always spring. Yeah. I guess I took a very different path from all my classmates, probably. I think majority of them, after they graduate, they just look for all the luxury big house. They want to be the creative director or just designer. And I think when it comes to freelancing, quite early on, I kind of realized I kind of more interested in the technical side. Yeah. Even I joined design, and some project I take on is design, but I like a mix like project. Yeah. I think naturally I just kind of somewhat very nerdy. I like to learn about how things work and how to put things together okay. Rather than if it’s just idea and it doesn’t come to light, I feel it’s just an idea. So for me, I need to kind of like I want to bring to life. So I’m always fascinating on the side how to make this work and how to make it better. Okay. And I guess that helped on my freelancing side, even as a pattern cutter, I guess, because my background is from design. So I think maybe that’s quite different from a lot of pattern cutter in some way because then I can read even people’s sketch and I can maybe because this is just from the feedback from people that I work with, they say because I can produce the pattern that match their vision and certain pattern color, even they technically capable. But what they produce maybe aesthetically just doesn’t match to what they imagine the designer had envisioned. Yeah. So I guess in the beginning when I kind of get a few work and then they always tell me, oh, they had this pattern color before, but it just didn’t work out. And that’s why.

Heidi [00:08:40]:

Okay, so you, like, having the training and the eye for design has actually been a massive asset to you as a pattern cutter?

Jade Wei [00:08:51]:

Yeah, I think because even during that year, I work with different designer. And then I guess you kind of train yourself to know what is the standard and what kind of thing they’re looking for, and then you’re just constantly looking at what is showing on the hard work. So you train your eye to see the line, see the cut, see the drape, I guess, rather than just see all flat only, I guess, really interesting. And I guess because I can drape, but I also do flat pattern cutting as well. Okay. So I guess all this kind of maybe help me to get more project in terms of when it comes to pattern cutting. And then normally it kind of continue. So it’s not like one project. And it stopped.

Heidi [00:09:31]:

Like you keep working with these clients. How long did you work with Alexander McQueen?

Jade Wei [00:09:36]:

I remember I think only a few months because then it’s my final year. I got too busy. I need to finish my alexander. McQueen.

Heidi [00:09:45]:

Who are you?

Jade Wei [00:09:47]:

I guess at that time we all think we got to finish our degree, right? I guess even maybe also because I’m coming from an Asian background, like qualification is more important than because that’s a long term thing job. You finish your course and then you can go apply again if you want to. I guess, yeah. So back then, maybe I was younger and then more know, not thinking that way. So I kind of just go on different.

Heidi [00:10:15]:

Okay, that’s okay. I love this story so much.

Jade Wei [00:10:18]:


[00:10:19] Expanding Technical Fashion Skills and Juggling Life

Heidi [00:10:19]:

So you got your internship for Alexander McQueen. They asked you to come on, you said no because you have school, they offered you financing, which feels like a dream. Then you finished your schooling. Then how did you start getting other clients?

Jade Wei [00:10:33]:

I think after that, because I continue to study until 2013 for different courses.

Heidi [00:10:41]:

Okay. Central st. Martin’s was your BA.

Jade Wei [00:10:44]:

Not my BA. Yeah, my master was in because actually when I graduated from BA, I got unconditional offer for Ma as well. But then I decided I want to take a different route. I want to go do some technical course instead of stay on the More design. Okay.

Heidi [00:11:06]:


Jade Wei [00:11:07]:

So I guess at that time, a lot of people do think I’m a bit like, what? You’re not going to go on the Ma like CSM women’s wear? Why? But in my head at that time, there’s also other factors. I guess I just found out my mom had cancer then as well. And then I have another very close family member, was really sick with Alzheimer’s. So I thought maybe let me take one year thinking what I’m going to do first. So I guess there it kind of take turn for me. And then I kind of want to learn technical as start. I went to LCF to learn production and tailoring. Yeah. And then I just kind of moved back to Cambridge and then commute for that course.

Heidi [00:11:52]:


Jade Wei [00:11:52]:

And then kind of learn all the technical thing and then kind of help out, which was my uncle. So then I was helping out and doing study at the same time.

Heidi [00:12:03]:

Is that in Taiwan?

Jade Wei [00:12:04]:

Your family is in Taiwan? Majority of my family are in Taiwan, but actually I have a very close uncle and auntie. They are in UK and they’re based in so at that time, then I just did that one year course for production in tailoring. And then that also learned more on the pattern cutting as well, especially in tailoring. So I guess that’s what I want to learn as well. And after that, I think it’s another postgraduate course, which is pattern design and garment technologist, which is where I learn about the Gerber system and also more pattern cutting. Yeah. And then is when I kind of do my Ma in LCF as well to do design management for the fashion industry.

Heidi [00:12:55]:


Jade Wei [00:12:55]:

Design, which at London College Fashion. Yeah. Because I guess at that time my mindset was I always wanted to have my brand. So let me just build skills that would help me to build a brand. So even my Ma, that course is designed for basically designers, they want to run business.

Heidi [00:13:14]:


Jade Wei [00:13:15]:

So they learn about fashion, branding or just marketing and even sustainability. So back in 2013, I already kind of like, wow, that was progressive. That’s part of my huge part of my Ma dissertation as well.

Heidi [00:13:34]:


Jade Wei [00:13:34]:

Like to build a brand which is sustainable. Yeah. So then that’s it. My study, I finished, like yeah, actually it’s end of 2012. I finished all my education, finished my Ma. And then I think then I kind of just prepare doing more freelancing on the side and then prepare to launch my brand. I think my brand finally launched in 2015 15.

Heidi [00:14:01]:


Jade Wei [00:14:01]:

And which was based off my dissertation, which is like a practical base, like a brand, which you do like a capsule collection, but only made to order, but then all the material or fabric will be locally sourced or that type of thing. Okay. But I guess my brand kind of like I think I wrote to you about. Yeah. It’s like an ever evolving brand. Since I launched it, I’ve already kind of relaunched it three times.

Heidi [00:14:31]:

I mean, it’s been eight years. A lot happens in eight years.

Jade Wei [00:14:34]:

Yeah. So I guess I constantly kind of reflect and just think what maybe I want to change a direction and what I feel more relevant at the point because I don’t believe stay in one vision and just for sure, going with a minor sleep. Because I think when I was younger, because I can’t say for everybody when I was younger, I go into fashion just because I have this passion. I have this dream I want to be this great fashion designer. But I guess as I get older, time kind of like and I learn more. And I just feel like if I want to do a brand, I wanted to not only mean something to me, but maybe kind of like do it better way that can have more impact on, I don’t know, people or even if it’s just a connection through the clothing or even the way I run business just through demonstration. This can work like this, I guess. I guess it’s very different from what I understand in the beginning. Wow, I want to have this brand just like all those brands. So I guess slowly I just developed my own understanding of what kind of brand I maybe want to and at the same time, because I love freelancing. So it’s kind of like I always do these two things at the same time.

Heidi [00:15:54]:

Yeah. Very complementary to each other.

Jade Wei [00:15:57]:

Yeah. And I love the freedom. Like, you can switch lane and then you can say it’s not focused, but because I also know there’s still the same goal. So for me, I wouldn’t say it’s not. Yeah. And also, I think since I found you, there’s a lot of things like you say it really kind of triggered me to think more on, okay, how can I kind of make these two maybe work together? Because so far I think, like, maybe financing just better. Yeah. Money wise, I think, for sure. Right.

Heidi [00:16:33]:

But I get I was like, sometimes feel bad. I’m like, you saw the article I shared last week. Maybe I don’t know. I try to talk realistically about having a brand. I’m not here to poo poo anyone’s dream, but you’re not going to get money.

Jade Wei [00:16:49]:

You are definitely on point. It’s not easy to make the same. I think it’s the time and effort to put in and the ratio of what you do is not the same. Not as the same as doing freelancing, I guess. But I think also we have to constantly thinking, but what do I want my life to be if I constantly just thinking, I just want to make money. I know that’s not going to make me happy because that just means I’m 100% doing freelancing. But then I lose any creativity expression for myself. And I kind of just feel like it’s a balance. Like, let’s say if I want to do 80 20 this year or I want to do 50 50. So I kind of like that fluidity and then that freedom, because I feel freedom is really important for me right from the beginning. Otherwise I would have just go to in house another brand. Yeah, in house. And I guess back then I just realized that’s not what I want to do very early.

Heidi [00:17:46]:


Jade Wei [00:17:47]:


[00:17:47]: Finding Freelance Clients and Acquiring Fashion Design Opportunities

Heidi [00:17:47]:

I have so many questions. I love your story so much. Okay, so I guess the most logical place is sort of like you said, you launched your brand, you finished your schooling in 2013, you launched your brand in 2015. You’ve iterated, it like three times, which is great. And what you can do when you’re doing capsule, like made to order, you have a lot more flexibility, which is awesome. And then you were like and I just was like having all these freelance clients on the side. And one year, if I want to go up to like 80% freelancing and 20% my brand, you’re painting quite a dream, which is amazing. But I want to know people out there listening are like, well, where are you getting these clients? How are you getting these clients? You seem to have your finger on this volume knob for freelancing. Like, let me just turn it up or turn it like I don’t think it’s ever quite that easy. But tell us, although I don’t know, you interned and then freelance for Alexander McQueen when you were still in college, so maybe you’re just a magic unicorn, but talk to us a little bit more about how you actually Jade, all this work with your freelancing clients from the beginning and even to where you are now.

Jade Wei [00:18:50]:

I think this is really interesting because I had to think about this before I come on as well. Yeah. How did I get these clients? Because I never pitch one time.

Heidi [00:19:01]:

Okay, but you probably knew I was going to dig into this. I was like, wait, how’d you make it happen?

Jade Wei [00:19:06]:

But I also want to pitch because I want to try to expand to not just in UK. We go back to how I got my clients right now. I think it’s from relationship like I built maybe just years ago and it will recommend it from someone else. It’s just always from someone I know, someone know what I do, and then someone worked with me before. So it’s almost like there’s already some kind of like social proof, some trust. Yeah. So certain project, I don’t even need to show portfolio, so I don’t actually have a portfolio.

Heidi [00:19:47]:

Yeah. Dear listener, this is not the first time I’ve heard this from freelancers. Once you get established, you do not need a portfolio, which is mind blowing to some people.

Jade Wei [00:19:58]:

Yeah, because I think I have a portfolio when I graduate, but that’s it.

Heidi [00:20:01]:

That’s it.

Jade Wei [00:20:02]:

But then also yeah in terms of pattern cutting portfolio I don’t even really have one I guess because normally it is through people I have worked with and they know my quality of work than if it’s from someone they know being recommended and they just kind of stray away. It’s like, yeah, that’s fine, because they will know the other person what they do as well. And if I’m capable of doing that work, they will know I can do the work for them too. I guess it’s just like this. So I think there’s some kind of like yeah, social proof is quite important, I guess. Yeah.

Heidi [00:20:35]:

Have you been conscious? And maybe it’s very natural for you, but how do you maintain relationships with all these people and keep in touch with these people? And I’m not saying like you talk to them five times a day and you’re best friends on text or something, but like, bigger picture, how do you keep in touch with all these? And so that when they have someone who could use your like they’re like, oh yeah, Jade, you’re top of yeah, like, what does that look like for you? And I imagine it’s something very natural.

Jade Wei [00:21:07]:

For you because I know you did an extra credit thing. I think some of it I already did. Basically, when the project finished, I’ll really thank them and just say it’s really been great. And if there’s something I feel they are interesting, I will share information. Or if they want some information, for example, soul thing, because I did my own brand. The first launch was kind of like I had to go to PV, all that. So I had experience of that. So I would share with people with that as well. And I guess just things like that. But I think also the most important thing is what kind of impression you left when you’re on the job. I think that’s really important.

Heidi [00:21:52]:

Okay, talk about that.

Jade Wei [00:21:53]:

Yeah. For example, I guess the Korean designer that I just mentioned work with all the big houses. Right? Yeah, I work with her even when I was a student. But then because I guess she know my work ethic and then also she enjoy working with me because with her, I have to be in house. I have to go to her studio.

Heidi [00:22:17]:


Jade Wei [00:22:18]:

So I guess my freelance is some of it definitely remote, but there will be some I have to kind of go to studio.

Heidi [00:22:24]:

Like you physically have to go there and do all the work there.

Jade Wei [00:22:27]:

Yes, because some designers not like 40.

Heidi [00:22:29]:

Hours a week regularly.

Jade Wei [00:22:31]:

Okay. You still have amount of time, maybe Monday to Thursday, monday to Friday. But then you got to be there every day, like for three months, something like that.

Heidi [00:22:41]:

Wait, it is that or it isn’t.

Jade Wei [00:22:42]:

It is.

Heidi [00:22:44]:

Okay. The permalance thing.

Jade Wei [00:22:47]:

Yes. So it has to be depends on project.

Heidi [00:22:50]:

Okay. So this is not majority.

Jade Wei [00:22:57]:

Yeah. Recently, definitely true remote. But in the beginning it wasn’t because I think maybe that helped too, because then people do kind of then I think people do have a little discharge when you kind of remote. If you’re in the same city, they will feel like, then why can’t you come in if you’re in the same city? They do have that mindset, I guess.

Heidi [00:23:15]:


Jade Wei [00:23:17]:

Especially, I guess in London. There’s so many people looking for jobs as well, I guess. And people do want to work with people. They get on. So I think it’s like what kind of impression you let when you’re on the job. Yeah, I think that’s quite important. Maybe like building that relationship. Because then next time she has similar project and she would think of me straight away.

Heidi [00:23:41]:


Jade Wei [00:23:42]:

So with her, I kind of would go back for because with her, I did a theory project with her.

Heidi [00:23:48]:

A theory?

Jade Wei [00:23:48]:

Basically. Yeah. Because they didn’t have any accessory like handbags. So I was helping the launch of their first series of handbags.

Heidi [00:23:59]:


Jade Wei [00:24:00]:

Yeah. So I was working with that designer. I’m the product developer in Pal and Cutter, and she’s a designer. So we just kind of team up and then do the whole launch for them, basically.

Heidi [00:24:12]:

And so you were working in studio with her, but she was remote. You guys were not remote.

Jade Wei [00:24:18]:

But she still needs to go into meetings and stuff like that. And sometimes even she could go fly to Milan or even for the weekend. Just for a meeting. Yeah. So things like that. But then on the other parent colleague thing, I think is remote because once the Trust is built, because the work, they just know your quality of work, they don’t need you to be there to check on you. Is she a hard worker? Is she going to like is she.

Heidi [00:24:48]:

Really doing it, or am I going to get the pattern?

Jade Wei [00:24:52]:

Yeah, so it is like that, the trust, I think it got a big bill first to have return project, things like that. And I even recommend because I think people don’t want to recommend someone they not like totally. Yeah. People are happy with.

Heidi [00:25:10]:

Yeah. But once you said you prove your work ethic and you show how amazing you are, it’s a no brainer to hire you again. It’s a no brainer to recommend you to other brands or people. So you get this job and then this job and then this client, and then that leads to that recommendation. It kind of just goes.

Jade Wei [00:25:29]:

Yeah. And I think also because when I launched my brand, I actually did both Men’s and Woman’s. I did both capsule collection. Okay. And I think one of my clients right now, basically is because he saw my collection and he know I did my own patterns. I did everything myself. He knows that. So then later on, he just approached me to help him with his brand pattern, basically.

Heidi [00:25:56]:

Where did he see your stuff?

Jade Wei [00:25:57]:

Just online, like when I launched online. And I think we do have a connection. We have quite a lot of common friends.

Heidi [00:26:07]:


Jade Wei [00:26:07]:

But then we don’t know each other. And even within the common friend, there’s no work connection. It’s just friends.

Heidi [00:26:15]:

Oh, it’s nothing to do with the fashion industry.

Jade Wei [00:26:18]:

It’s just friends. Yeah. But he’s doing his own brand as well. But we have no connection on work level. He just judged by what I can do. And then he just approached me and say, are you interested in helping me? And then we kind of started. Yeah. 2019, I think, and now it’s ongoing. Yeah.

Heidi [00:26:40]:


Jade Wei [00:26:41]:


[00:26:42]: Learning Technical Skills and Continuous Learning

Heidi [00:26:42]:

Okay, so I need to know. I need to know, right. You joined fast in August 2021. What inspired you to join? I feel like you had everything figured out or have everything I mean, I don’t think I have idea your backstory.

Jade Wei [00:27:02]:

Yeah, I think I joined 2021 August, but that year I was really busy with the older, like with my sur launch of the hat and mask of your own brand.

Heidi [00:27:14]:


Jade Wei [00:27:15]:

Yeah. So I was really busy with the order until and also bespoke like orders and things like that. So I didn’t really start the course till 2022, March. So basically last year.

Heidi [00:27:27]:

Okay, so a little year ago.

Jade Wei [00:27:29]:

But before that, I was already following you, like, 2017 to learn. I want to learn how to use yes, 2017. And then I start paying for your master class or Illustrator.

Heidi [00:27:48]:


Jade Wei [00:27:48]:

Because even I went to all these fancy school, I didn’t learn any of that.

Heidi [00:27:54]:


Jade Wei [00:27:55]:

And then I always do sketching and even technical drawing. I always hand draw. Okay. But then I get to a point there was this freelance project I had to do, like, design project. And I just kind of think, I think I really need to do this now. And I think that’s, like, probably in 2017. Yeah, around the same time. And I thought, okay, let me go on YouTube and then kind of learn something, maybe. And see, because with Illustrator, I keep digging in and out because I feel haven’t found someone can teach me. The way I feel is like, this is efficient. It’s not too much stuff around. And I don’t need to know what I don’t need to know. I don’t need to know what the things I need to know. You are the person that I first found on YouTube because I was looking for this thing. How do I do this? And you have this, like, two minutes or something. Video straight away. Give me the answer I need. And then I found out first, and then later on, I see you show up in Zoe Holmes.

Heidi [00:29:01]:

We did a collaboration a long time.

Jade Wei [00:29:02]:

Ago, and I thought, this can’t be incident. I feel like I need to follow you more and see what’s going on with you, because I feel like your technical knowledge on the AI is what I need to learn then. So I just stray on and then go on your website and then kind of see the course you have. I just say, okay, I know what she has on YouTube. I know she will have great course. So I just and then and then that yeah, for my own brand, I start exploring. I want to do production in Taiwan, so I did that. In between, I want to learn how to do Tepa. And you again, a then it’s like every course you have out there. I bought every course, but at the same time, I feel, yeah, I’m so grateful because you did this during COVID as well. So many live I think I bought some on the price you offer, but then later on when there’s that special price, I kind of just bought the rest of it. And then later on, I feel like, okay, you focus on freelancing. And I know that’s my thing too. And then I join all the weekly training that you have. And every time I feel there’s so much useful information, and I always get inspired just that week, even just listen to some tips you give and. Things, I just feel like, okay, I want to get on this course to Sew. I know I’m doing it, but at the same time, maybe not at the scale you’re talking about. I can get clients, but I’m always not comfortable. Certain conversations, like you say, the pricing, what kind of strategy you can use to kind of raise up your price, or when there’s situation people want to ask for more. And then how do you I feel like, yeah, you provide a lot of this, which maybe I dealt with it in the past, but I feel like, yeah, you gave me more tools for that and I kind of want to learn. Yeah, so I think that’s great. And also I think last year I decided I really want to dive in this 3D. So I just really full time learning CLO to want to make the transition to do pattern in CLO. And then I kind of go into this all the 3D world, actually, so more than glow. I kind of learned substance 3D, Alexander, even DA 3D, because I’m kind of really intrigued by the digital fashion as well. So I guess I’m kind of at the beginning exploring that, just kind of see what it can happen even for freelancing as well. So I guess you open up a lot of them even more, like yeah, I think it’s just like before even I’m doing it. But like I said, I always feel really alone because I don’t have any other friends doing freelancing like me. A lot of my friends, they’re having their own brand as well, but they’re not freelancing. So I always feel like, okay, so on that side, how can I make it better? Because I’m someone like I always want to kind of be better. And Noah, I don’t want to just make money because I can do something. I want to make money because I feel that value is for whoever is paying as well as I feel I’m doing a good job because that also is a value for myself too.

Heidi [00:32:19]:

Yeah, totally.

Jade Wei [00:32:21]:

Yeah. So I guess it’s always learning. So I guess yeah, that’s my thing.

Heidi [00:32:25]:

Wow. Okay, so you mentioned the weekly calls. Are you talking about the live coaching calls inside fast?

Jade Wei [00:32:32]:

No, because the one you do free for other people even when they know.

Heidi [00:32:38]:

But I don’t do those every week. That’s not weekly.

Jade Wei [00:32:40]:

No, but it’s like a one week.

Heidi [00:32:42]:

Normally you’re talking about freelance week, the event.

Jade Wei [00:32:44]:

Yeah. Okay, got you.

Heidi [00:32:45]:

Sorry. No.

Jade Wei [00:32:47]:

Okay, got you.

Heidi [00:32:48]:

Yeah, freelance week, the event itself. Okay, understand.

Jade Wei [00:32:51]:

Because I think you do probably twice a year or something like that.

Heidi [00:32:55]:

It depends on the year, but yes, a couple of times.

Jade Wei [00:32:57]:

Yeah. So then I feel that’s like a reminder for me. Okay. Yeah. And then I kind of finished the course last year, I guess. And then I feel like that was March, and then you did one in August. I think last year. And then that’s when I kind of also there’s like this you did some power, the freelance power pack. Yes, and I bought that too, because I need to get things going as well. So I just like, whatever you offer, I’m just on it because I know whatever you have to offer, it always so much value in it.

Heidi [00:33:34]:


Jade Wei [00:33:35]:

And then also, it’s like a prompt for me to kind of get back on certain things maybe I missed even consider redo a whole course. That’s going to take a while. Right. But then when you offer something like that, it kind of will remind me, oh, maybe there’s certain part I can still make it. I don’t need to kind of redo the whole course again. I just need to kind of know which part I can maybe try to fine tune it a little bit more or focus on if I want to change my pricing or change my service or even my niche. Because I think the good thing about freelancing is you can change your niche.

Heidi [00:34:12]:


Jade Wei [00:34:12]:

I feel like because even for me, like I say, when I’m freelancing, it’s not every project is the same. Majority are pattern cutting because that’s what, at the moment, from my experience, what people are willing to pay for the service more than paying for design.

Heidi [00:34:26]:

Totally. You can make a lot more money.

Jade Wei [00:34:28]:

Exactly. So I think at times I would choose technical project rather than design based off that because we only have certain time and if I want to design, maybe I want to design for my own brand. If I want to make money, maybe I’ll do the technical thing that yeah, exactly.

Heidi [00:34:46]:

So talk a little bit about I mean, you’ve mentioned a couple of things. You’ve mentioned, like, learning strategies to negotiate your rates or raise your price or something. It sounds like maybe a little bit more on the business side of things or even just getting prompted to be like, oh, I can adjust my niche or something, or start going out and pitching and stuff.

Jade Wei [00:35:07]:


[00:35:08]: Pricing Strategies for Freelance Fashion Design

Heidi [00:35:08]:

Can you talk about how you’ve I mean, you just explained how you’ve been focusing more on pattern cutting as a freelancer because that’s where you can get the most bang for your bucks and you have more time to focus on your brand. But what about the pricing thing? I’d love to hear you talk a little bit about the pricing component. Have you used some of the strategies to raise your price slowly over the years or raise them with existing clients?

Jade Wei [00:35:28]:

Okay, let’s hear I think before you I already do that. Every year I will kind of raise I think when I started even a student, that’s like a 20 pound an hour or something. I’m saying like in British pound, I don’t know what’s in us. So like 20 pound an hour or something like that. And every year I probably just see where my skills that I might just add like five pound more every year. And then I think slowly I kind of more comfortable going to project price now. Especially this year, I decided I want to implement three D and digital pattern as well. So then that’s a completely different thing to what people are used to. Just the normal pattern cutting price per hour, that type of thing. And also when it’s involving in digital pattern or 3D sampling, that’s a different thing because there are clients, they want just digital pattern, but they also are clients, they want digital pattern, but they still want a hard card to get cut out print because maybe their factory is still using cards. It’s all this. So I guess then I kind of start thinking maybe it jade more sense to kind of do different price package for different needs rather than just always hourly. Because I think as a brand owner, I also understand sometimes they do need to know what the budget for the whole thing to get done, for sure. So I guess slowly I kind of wanted to maybe kind of be better at pricing as a package rather than hourly. Unless it’s something outside of the scope of what we kind of agree on or they want extra thing just because they finally want it or suddenly want it.

Heidi [00:37:17]:

Then you can just add it on as hourly pricing as a flat rate.

Jade Wei [00:37:22]:

Yeah. So I think before I kind of changed the price, I actually hit to like 50 pounds an hour for pattern cutting. But I think beyond that, people are a bit more like, oh, does it really cost that much to do pattern? Because when you tell them hourly, the next question is always how long? Then?

Heidi [00:37:43]:


Jade Wei [00:37:46]:

But literally they just want to know how much to get these things done, right?

Heidi [00:37:49]:


Jade Wei [00:37:50]:

So I guess ultimately it just makes more sense for me to do project price.

Heidi [00:37:56]:

I’m a big proponent of project based or retainer or something like that. But it’s complicated when you’re first starting to figure that out. Hourly is much easier as the freelancer is concerned. It’s much easier to manage when you’re first starting.

Jade Wei [00:38:10]:

Yeah. Because you kind of don’t know how long it would take you.

Heidi [00:38:13]:


Jade Wei [00:38:14]:

So you have to try and kind of just project.

Heidi [00:38:20]:

Oh, go ahead. Sorry.

Jade Wei [00:38:21]:

Yeah, now I switched project now. Yeah.

Heidi [00:38:23]:

How’s that going?

Jade Wei [00:38:24]:

I think it’s good so far. Yeah. But I’m still waiting on certain approval for the project to go ahead. So, let’s see.

Heidi [00:38:33]:

Oh, is this like a brand new switch?

Jade Wei [00:38:35]:

Yeah, because I changed the pricing and also provide new services. I don’t do manual pattern cutting anymore. I decided I want to go full on digital, but I can provide them with cars or pattern. But then in terms of me doing the work, I’m kind of fully digital now.

Heidi [00:38:53]:

Fully digital?

Jade Wei [00:38:54]:

Yeah. Because then I want to eye in the grading service and also fitting okay, because I’m really interested in the whole development partner. Because doing pattern is fun. But sometimes when you pass out that pattern, if you don’t follow along, maybe the product is still not going to turn out right. Because maybe, I don’t know, they don’t have tape out even. You have a good pattern. Someone saw it wrong just like that. So I’m kind of interested in kind of like help brand to kind of go from they need a pattern but let’s help them to get to the sample and then it’s the other end. Depends on project. I might take it but I might not. But I kind of want to make sure they definitely have the right sample to go into the next stage.

Heidi [00:39:40]:

Yeah, for sure. Wow. I love your story. It’s amazing. It’s really unique.

Jade Wei [00:39:48]:

Yeah, it’s really unique because I think from people that I go to school with yeah. Majority of people have very different paths from me. Either have their own brand or working for a very big name in house. But it’s full time. But I guess over time I just have to think like what would I prefer? And I guess yeah, over the years I’m just very happy. Like my choice I never regret like yeah, maybe I could have go, is this not me? I guess I’m quite comfortable with I constantly ask my own myself question like what my success should be. It’s not just about money or financial because I do feel like life is about life success and that’s health is one. And I think also relationship, family, all that. I think only when every aspect is kind of balanced, then you can truly be happy. And I do feel like yeah, especially when I was young, like career or especially when you’re in fashion. I have done that. Like working like nonstop into 04:00 in the morning and then 4 hours sleep straight away back in the studio. I have done all that. So I guess I have the experience to then feel, make a choice, I don’t want that anymore. And then I kind of just find my own path, I guess. Because it’s inevitable if you’re in any brand and there’s always fashion show, there’s always some kind of deadline and if you in house, you’re part of a team. You can’t kind of say I’m going to go home and so on. You can’t. You just can’t. But if it’s freelance, I guess when there’s busy time yeah, you got to work a bit more but at the same time it’s still within your own schedule. So I like that freedom which also is a boundary, right? Yeah, you do put a boundary between your own life and work. So yeah, I think the older I get, I do find that super important for me.

Heidi [00:41:48]:

Yeah, that’s amazing. Yeah, the freedom component, I mean just having the freedom to make the choice if you want to work till 04:00 a.m. On it, that’s your choice when you’re in the office.

Jade Wei [00:42:03]:

Don’t get me wrong, in my twenty s I love it. Totally.

Heidi [00:42:07]:

Sure. And then you go out early, happy hour still and have a couple of drinks and then still get up after 2 hours of sleep and can do it all. Yeah. Because I think you and I are very similar age and you get exhausted.

Jade Wei [00:42:20]:

After a while and I feel like yeah, my twenty s and part of my 30s are that. But then going to late 30 I kind of just have a different mindset about what kind of life I want even I’m in fashion but I don’t have to live like that.

Heidi [00:42:38]:

And like you said, you get to pursue your own brand which is this really important component and part of your life I feel like it’s like part of your being to do this.

Jade Wei [00:42:50]:

I think it’s an extension of what I really do because I do sew even freelancing. It is very one to one. So I think even for my brand I doing this kind of bespoke service to kind of have a client come to me say they have this dream garment. They want me to help them to kind of design and create. I feel it’s the same thing me doing a freelance project for any brand. It’s just because those may be going to production but that is like me producing just one off garment for that.

Heidi [00:43:26]:

It’s an arrangement though.

Jade Wei [00:43:28]:

Yeah. And also I think I feel more connected to my work in the sense that I do feel like the things that’s been produced, I know actually who is wearing that and that person, they maybe have different kind of connection to that garment.

Heidi [00:43:43]:


Jade Wei [00:43:43]:

And that’s very different from when I produce a pattern or tech pack for brand. But I actually don’t know at the end who bought that design at the end and how much they actually like it and how long they’re going to wear it, how often they’re going to so it’s just all these things constantly. I will be thinking a better way to kind of produce, what kind of work I kind of put my time and effort to produce. I kind of quite mindful in that. So I guess even nowadays when I choose freelance project I always want to work with brand that I feel maybe we have similar aesthetic and then even like a worldview we have the same we believe in the same thing maybe.

Heidi [00:44:25]:

Yeah, like same values and ethics and stuff.

Jade Wei [00:44:27]:

Yeah, exactly.

Heidi [00:44:28]:

Wow, your journey is really inspiring. Go ahead.

Jade Wei [00:44:37]:

Yeah, but I kind of want to maybe there are a lot of people out there, they do kind of fighting about whether go to fashion school or not. And I think, from my experience, I do think there’s no what’s better or worse. Because each journey I think you can always learn something and you will gain different things. Because, let’s say, yeah, maybe I don’t learn as much technical things from fashion school because even pattern cutting, I have to constantly learn from books or even going to class to learn from this particular pattern cutter from the school because they don’t really have like unless it’s the other technical course. I go to the design school. They don’t teach you all the technical side. Okay. But it’s the connection you make with your classmates. Then you get the network. Right. So if you go to those kind of school right, so that’s the benefit there. You meet people, that kind of people. Then you have a network there. But if you’re learning on your own, let’s say just on YouTube, I think you can just learn as much as you want if you are a very disciplined person and you can kind of found the right mentor even online to follow yourself. Thank you. I think you can learn just as much as going to school as well. So I feel like don’t need to kind of worry too much about the qualification or I think you really need to spend time and effort to build your skill, your craft. I think that’s the important thing.

Heidi [00:46:06]:

Yeah. And no matter where that knowledge comes from, it might come some from school, some from books.

Jade Wei [00:46:11]:

Yeah, exactly.

Heidi [00:46:12]:

Some from working collaboratively with other people.

Jade Wei [00:46:14]:

Finding a mentor, watching YouTube.

Heidi [00:46:17]:

It’s a well rounded thing. And then at the end of the day yeah. You have to put the effort in to attain those skills wherever they’re coming from.

Jade Wei [00:46:23]:

Yeah. Because you can never stop learning because there’s just so much because even I do pattern for so many years, there’s still so much I can learn. Even just from transition from manual pattern coloring to digital is a whole new thing. But at the same time, if learning something, you feel it can up your skill, why not, right? You just got to kind of like put the time and effort in. Yeah.

[00:46:47]:  Exploring Cloud-Based Solutions and Benefits of 3D Fashion

Heidi [00:46:47]:

I want to just touch really quickly on the conversation that you and I had before we hit record about you because you were talking about how you’ve taught yourself, Clo3d, but the decision to get there was kind of interesting. Do you remember what I’m talking about?

Jade Wei [00:47:04]:

You know? No, but basically you just said like.

Heidi [00:47:10]:

You saw it in the market and.

Jade Wei [00:47:12]:

You were like, is that the one.

Heidi [00:47:14]:

I want to learn? Talk a little bit about that.

Jade Wei [00:47:16]:

I saw it very early on, but I didn’t feel it was ready for me to jump in to learn all those things because I feel they would kind of have upgrade version and I kind of want to wait till things are more ready than I kind of like, because even I start learning fully like last year. Since then there’s so many new things and so many new functions. And then if I learned that before, but this is new now.

Heidi [00:47:45]:

Probably a whole different software from like three years ago. Yeah, exactly.

Jade Wei [00:47:49]:

I don’t know, but I feel like now yeah, I do feel like last year, I felt it was the right time for me to kind of like, okay, let me maybe even just stop what I’m doing fully in for a couple of months and see, because I want to dive in to see what it can do as well. Because there’s so many YouTube out there to teach you. But at the same time, only you know what you need to be able to create. What you need to create. Right? Yeah, I know what I need for pattern, for brands. But can Cloud provide me all the tools and all the capability that I’m kind of manually can do? Can they give me that? And I kind of spend time to kind of dig that in a bit to see like, okay, then I feel like, okay, I think maybe it’s there. So let me just start learning. And I think with continuous new version, I think, okay, I think I made the right investment to learn. Good, because I feel like, yeah, it’s ready. And also just the grading and also to be able to visualize the 3D garment. I feel that’s a huge thing for a lot of brands and a lot of startup designers because they just don’t have as much technical knowledge, like how the finishing should be. But with 3D sample, you can really explain so many things to them just by showing them. Otherwise they have to wait otherwise they have to wait till the sample and then say, oh, can this be? But with 3D sample, you can already discuss that at that stage and change the pattern and reduce the sample. Because I really do feel like there’s too much unnecessary sample making before it even goes to production.

Heidi [00:49:38]:

It’s a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of waste. A lot.

Jade Wei [00:49:42]:

Yeah. So just even on sustainability side, I just feel like, yeah, if I can convince one more brand to adopt this, I feel it’s somehow I’m doing something good.

Heidi [00:49:53]:


Jade Wei [00:49:55]:

So I guess that’s my mission maybe this year to kind of convert some of my clients to kind of adopt this. Just don’t use don’t do drafting from Petal because even just alter a little piece, you just have to cut a whole new piece to do a new pattern. And it’s just so much paper as I don’t know, I feel like over the years, if I’m thinking about how much paper I waste, I just feel.

Heidi [00:50:26]:

Like it’s a lot.

Jade Wei [00:50:27]:

I don’t feel too yeah.

Heidi [00:50:30]:

Yeah. Oh, my gosh. Jade, when I invited you to come on the podcast, I really had no whew the breadth of our conversation, it’s been really inspiring and really fun to get to hear your whole story and your journey. You’ve done so many amazing things and you are an amazing human being. I’m really grateful that we had this chance to chat.

Jade Wei [00:50:55]:

Thank you for having me.

Heidi [00:50:56]:

Yeah. First, where can everybody find you and connect with you online?

Jade Wei [00:51:00]:

I think I can go on my website or Instagram. My website is like atelier

Heidi [00:51:10]:


Jade Wei [00:51:10]:

Or instagram like the brand atelier WCMF. Or you can connect me personally. It’s Jade. And then underscore way. W-E-I and underscore s perfect.

Heidi [00:51:25]:

And we will link to all that in the show notes. Yeah, of course. I’d love to ask you the question that I ask everybody. At the end, you’re laughing because you know it’s coming. What is one thing that people never ask you about being a freelancer that you wish they would?

Jade Wei [00:51:41]:

I think I never wished anybody asked me question because I just shy away from when people focus on me. I really don’t like it.

Heidi [00:51:49]:

Well, you did great on this interview.

Jade Wei [00:51:51]:

Thank you.

Heidi [00:51:51]:

Podcast, then it was all about you.

Jade Wei [00:51:54]:

Yeah, I know. Maybe that’s why I kind of hide for a long time, because I feel like, yeah, I think by nature I’m not very outgoing, but if I connect with someone, I can openly share.

Heidi [00:52:09]:


Jade Wei [00:52:10]:

But generally I’m not someone like to talk about me. So when you say, like, what would I wish people ask me questions? No, I don’t wish they ask me any question. Just don’t ask anything. Okay.

Heidi [00:52:20]:

I mean, that could be your answer.

Jade Wei [00:52:21]:

If you but I think my answer would be then I constantly ask myself questions.

Heidi [00:52:29]:


Jade Wei [00:52:30]:

Always it’s more about what’s my long term goal? I will always thinking about long term rather than short term. I think I think in fashion, a lot of people maybe when they get busy, when there’s a deadline and it’s about business so often I think people kind of lose the bigger picture at times.

Heidi [00:52:52]:


Jade Wei [00:52:52]:

So I think for me, I constantly ask myself, like, what am I doing this for? Or things I do, can they actually have any positive impact to anyone? Like this kind of thing? And if I question it, then I will kind of look into it and then kind of reflect and then kind of think, so what? Can I make it better? Then maybe it can have positive impact and have positive connection with people. I guess so. I guess that’s how I always kind of do when I kind of want to change my service or even change my own brand, like the direction or even this season I want to offer because at the moment on the website, I’m offering, like hat and mask. But that was actually just small project I do during COVID Before that, it’s always about clothing.

Heidi [00:53:38]:


Jade Wei [00:53:38]:

And then I think after I learned three D, I don’t want to do clothing the same way. I want to straightaway adopt three D to kind of even implement into my own design process or even create any piece that my brand offer. So I think it’s like constantly reflect and constantly try to improve even myself. Because I feel if I’m a better version of myself, whatever I do is better for people that I connect with or else I’m doing. Yeah, exactly. I guess. Asking questions for yourself, I guess. Yeah.

Heidi [00:54:12]:

What’s the bigger picture? Goal. Yeah. And I mean, it sounds like you’re like, how does this ultimately trickle out into the rest of the world and affect other people? I mean, you mentioned earlier the thing with the bespoke work that you do with individual clients and how there’s something I don’t think you said magical, but to me it sounded like a little more magical with that.

Jade Wei [00:54:33]:


Heidi [00:54:33]:

Because you get to see and hear and know about this garment and the end user and it’s getting worn and loved.

Jade Wei [00:54:41]:

Yeah. Because even part of that is like some of the project, we would even upcycle a piece of their own and they still love that piece, but the fit, they don’t love it anymore. So we would just upcycle that into a new garment that being designed and then kind of like yeah, just kind of become a new piece for this client’s wardrobe and it give a new life. And I just feel for that person, they’re just like, so happy because maybe that piece of clothing has some memory. They wear it to somewhere, but they just know because the fit or whatever other reason, they won’t wear that as that again. But if you kind of upcycle it, there’s some piece of that still going to the new piece. And I just feel there’s some yeah, I think a lot of brands are doing great, like doing upcycle, but I feel there’s so many possibility people or even brands can kind of try to explore, to kind of just being creative, I guess.

Heidi [00:55:38]:


Jade Wei [00:55:39]:

You don’t have to run a brand like every other big brand because then what’s the fun enough, right?

Heidi [00:55:45]:

Yeah. I love it. Thank you so much for coming on and talking about yourself and your phenomenal story, despite the fact that you don’t like the spotlight. I’m very grateful. And dear listener, I hope you’re as grateful and as excited about this conversation as I have been the whole time. It’s really been lovely.

Jade Wei [00:56:06]:

Thank you. I really enjoyed it, but.


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