How to work part time in the fashion industry as a freelancer

How to Work Part-Time in the Fashion Industry

Working in the fashion industry can feel like a dream. But the challenge is that most fashion design jobs are full-time, not part-time. 

And we’re not talking cushy comfortable 40hr full-time weeks. We’re talking grueling and demanding 60-80hr weeks. (Even though your salary is based on 40hrs. #eyeroll)

The long hours our industry demands make it tough to be a mom in fashion, travel, or just get some freedom and flexibility in your life.

In my decade + working in the fashion industry, I didn’t know any designers (or any employees – tech designers, patternmakers, product developers, etc) who had the luxury of working part-time. 

A lot of my colleagues got burnt out from the grind. It gets pretty toxic without time to take care of yourself or your family.

So, How Do You Work Part-Time in the Fashion Industry?

The answer is surprisingly simple. 

But it’s something most people don’t even know exists in our industry.

If you want to work part-time in fashion, don’t be an employee. Be a freelancer.

Now, I’m not talking about freelance temp jobs that are really “permalance” gigs in disguise like this:

Freelance Fashion Design Permalance Job

That puts you right back in a full-time role…without any benefits like insurance or sick leave. It’s actually more abusive than most actual full-time jobs.

I’m talking about true remote freelancing where you set your own schedule, work on a variety of projects you love, and have the flexibility to work where you want.

How to work part time in the fashion industry

Not only do you get to decide whether you work part-time or full-time (or some in between-time), there’s no income cap. Meaning you can make as much money as you want.

Now I realize I’m painting what sounds like a fantasy dream life here that seems too good to be true. I won’t lie that freelancing in fashion takes work (just like having a job or your own brand). 

But the possibilities as a fashion freelancer are limitless (and so is your flexibility).

Hear me out…

I worked as a fashion designer for 10+ years. Most of that time I was a freelancer where I earned $100k+ working part-time, just 20-30 hours a week.

But I’m just one person, and I live in the US, so maybe I got lucky…? 

So, Is it Possible to Work Part-Time as a Freelancer in Fashion (anywhere in the World)?

Back in 2016, after I’d been working as a part-time freelancer in the fashion industry for 7 years earning $100k+, I thought I was a unicorn with the work-life balance I had

I was doing projects I cared about, not whatever was dumped on my plate. I could travel whenever I wanted, instead of having to give 3 weeks notice just to take a Friday off. 

It was pure bliss, and I thought for sure I’d just gotten super lucky.

So I spent 2.5 years researching and testing to discover, firsthand, if it really was possible to work part-time as a freelancer in fashion (anywhere in the world).

I interviewed Successful Fashion Freelancers on my podcast, I coached aspiring freelancers, and then I created my premium program, Freelance Accelerator: from Surviving to Thriving (FAST) to reach more people.

Turns out, part-time (true remote) freelancing in fashion is verrrry much possible. 

With almost 500 students in FAST, we’ve seen freelancers with varying experience levels around the world CRUSH it. 

They love the flexible part-time schedule while still doing work they’re passionate about.

Like PKP, a mom in India who was done with the 9-5 grind when she had her son. After pursuing freelancing on her own without luck (and getting burnt by a client), she joined FAST.

“I wanted to not compromise with the time I had with my son. and at the same time did not want to give up on my career. After attending Heidi’s course, I started getting more projects and even took in other designers and kind of expanded my team. I love this life.”

PKP, freelance fashion designer, India

PKP gets to choose how much she works so she can have a more flexible schedule to hang out with her son. Even in a country like India, she’s making an amazing rate charging $150 for tech packs.

Then there’s Mari, a Puerto Rican living in NYC, who didn’t feel like enough of an “expert” but took the plunge to freelance and join FAST. She took on a ton of clients her first year and grew to $5k invoices.

fashion designer freelancer with large invoice

Then, she got pregnant and is over the moon excited about the luxury of a part-time flexible schedule. 

“My pace has massively slowed down since I got pregnant, and I cannot imagine going through my first trimester in the office. I’m looking forward to seeing how I will manage parenthood and freelancing! But so far, I’m excited about it! ”

Mari, freelance sweater designer, New York

Amy worked as a full-time inhouse fashion designer before she had her first child in 2019. She returned to work only to decide that 40hr+ weeks weren’t a good match with her new role as a mom.

So decided to pursue freelancing part-time. She joined FAST and within weeks, landed her first 2 clients for $2k+.

With spotty (or no) childcare throughout the pandemic, Amy continues with her part-time fashion design freelance role.

“I’ll get up at five and work for a few hours before he [my son] wakes up and I’m working at nap time and then work in the evening.”

Amy, freelance fashion designer, Washington

Fitting work into cracks of time during the day means she can earn money, do the work she loves, and be a present mom. #priceless

These SFFs are living their dream life of working in fashion, on their own terms. And it’s possible for you too.

No matter where you live.

No matter how much experience you have.

Even if you didn’t go to fashion school (or are still a student). 

Work part time as a fashion designer

But during my successful freelance career, I learned the hard way that figuring this stuff out on your own – getting clients, pricing and portfolios – was hard AF. 

(Which is why during my first year I earned a whopping $0. By year two, I’d tripled my salary and quickly got to $100k+…but the learning curve was steep.)

Freelancing Is the Best Way to Work Part-Time in Fashion

Stop hunting for another full-time fashion job where you’ll wither away in a toxic office working 60+ hours a week. Brands are inflexible, don’t care if you’re a parent with kids to care for, and sure AF don’t care if you want a better work-life balance.

The best way to find true happiness working part-time on your own terms is by freelancing in fashion.

Take control of your life and your future.



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