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Breaking into the industry

by gbaf mag

By Kelly Collins, Head of Creative at Swyft (www.swyfthome.com), talks through how she broke into the industry, and what’s changed since the Coronavirus pandemic.

Can you give some detail about your day-to-day life as Head of Creative at Swyft?

No two days are the same, which I love. I usually have a rough plan each day, but that’s often thrown out of the window by mid-morning.  I spend a lot of time organising and managing product photoshoots. I source locations, work on the styling, moodboard creation and accessorising, and book models. I also plan all the logistics – co-ordinating third party couriers and the warehouse team to ensure everything arrives to shoot promptly.  I work closely with our Marketing Team on storyboarding and social media, and proof style-focused content for blog or emails. I also project manage and pitch new ideas to our PR team, alongside collaborations with social media influencers.

How has your role changed during the pandemic?

Initially, a section of my role was to design and manage trade shows globally. Obviously this is no longer possible, and as such, I had to adapt to the “new normal” and slightly change focus. Swyft is a very new company so brand exposure and recognition is incredibly important, I now spend a lot of time thinking of new and innovative ways to get Swyft in front of as many eyes and ears as possible. In this new, Covid world, that mainly includes coming up with creative digital ideas.

Did you experience any struggles getting into the industry and how did you overcome them?

As many designers will tell you, it’s a very competitive industry. I definitely struggled to find my feet when I moved from a small design firm in Hertfordshire to a larger company in London. I’d recommend dipping your toe into different areas of the industry and work out where you fit best. There are so many different areas of expertise to try your hand at. If a job doesn’t work out, that’s okay; you can only learn from it. Don’t be disheartened.

I’d advise you to make sure to stay in contact with colleagues. Although it’s a big industry, it is a small world. You are more than likely to bump into familiar faces, and you never know when you might need to call upon them. I’d also say that it’s very easy to get pigeon-holed into one area of design. Move around to different sides of the industry: Commercial (such as hotels and restaurants), office design, bespoke furniture, styling. Try as many as you possibly can and see what you enjoy most.

What are your top tips for other women trying to get into the interiors industry?

  1. Network, network, network!
    Firstly, create a little black book of inspiring women in the industry. There is nothing better than getting advice and guidance from women you look up to. I never stop adding amazing women into my life and surrounding yourself with inspirational women is something I am a great advocate of. Two new inspiring women in my life are Fleur Ward, who runs her own interior design business and has recently launched her own wallpaper brand, and Lisa Norris, who owns a beautiful art gallery in Fulham.

  2. Be aware of what’s going on around you
    The industry is so fast paced with new and innovative designs, product launches and more, that it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse. Make sure to get subscriptions to editorials like Architectural Digest and Wallpaper. Keep an eye on Pinterest, Instagram and websites like Dezeen.

  3. Keep up with technology
    There are many CAD programs that are used across the industry; including AutoCAD, SketchUp, Solidworks, 3DS Max, Revit. Have a look at what programs are used in the industry direction you want to go into. There and many courses available, be it online or with a College or University.

Be self aware
The design industry is all about people – clients, suppliers and colleagues – who you have to work with on a daily basis. Building a good rapport with them is extremely important. You never know when you may need to call on someone. Work hard, stay positive and stay passionate.

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