A lot of people wonder, what does a freelance fashion designer do? The list is long, and it’s way more than just “design”! Whether you’re starting without experience or have been in the industry for years, you have a lot of options when it comes to deciding what to do as a fashion freelancer.
Now, you may read this list and be skeptical.
I often get questions like:
“How are you supposed to do technical things like pattern making or technical design remotely?”
“How is it possible to do fittings if you’re not onsite?”
“How can you just draw flats? Don’t you need to know the whole process?”
For the 10+ years I was a freelancer in fashion, I did all these things, so I know firsthand it’s possible.
But I realize I’m just one person. And it’s easy to think maybe I got lucky.
If you want to see some other real life examples of “what does a freelance fashion designer do,” let me introduce you to some Freelance Accelerator: from Surviving to Thriving (FAST) grads.
Alexandra is a freelance patternmaker in Pennsylvania. Despite dropping out of fashion school, after 5 years away from the fashion industry she managed to land a job as a production sewist and sample maker, and was soon designing collections. But the conditions were abusive and the pay was so low she had to work a second job.
So she broke free to pursue her love of patternmaking, and now makes more money in one day as a freelancer than she did in nearly two weeks at her full-time job.
“I love [freelancing] so much, I get to choose my projects and how much I want to work.”
Arya is a self-taught designer in India who had no industry experience and didn’t go to fashion school. While she’s developing her skills, she’s starting out with just ONE freelance service: fashion flats in Adobe Illustrator. She has a small, self-directed portfolio, and she already has multiple clients paying her $20 an hour!
“Within my first two months freelancing,] I already have 3 paying clients, and 3 more lined up! As I have not gone to [fashion] school and I don’t have any real industry experience, I have to work hard for more, and I will.”
Eleni lives in Greece and started freelancing with no real industry experience. She exclusively does tech packs, and she’s now making 3-4X the average full-time fashion designer salary in Greece, while working just a fraction of the hours (16-20 hours per week, when FT designers usually work well over 40!).
“When I get up in the morning and start to work I cannot believe that I am actually living what I was once dreaming about and this instantly makes me so happy!”
But before you get overwhelmed thinking about doing ALL these things…
There’s something you need to know about freelancing in fashion.
Unlike in a full-time job, you don’t have to DO it all or KNOW it all.
To be a Successful Fashion Freelancer, you just need ONE skill (even if you don’t have any experience).
Just tech packs.
Just product development.
Just ONE thing.
You got this, and you’re doing great.