Ravensbourne University London
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Sophie Dark

Course: BA (Hons) Fashion Accessory Design

Year of Graduation: 2017


I chose Ravensbourne as its fashion accessory design course is one of the few which focuses on developing business skills alongside the creative aspect. I was always interested in leatherwork and knew I needed to find a design course based around fashion accessories rather than just fashion. I was looking to study in London so I could stay close to home; London is where I always wanted to grow my own business, so it made sense to learn and network here as much as I could.

The ‘Couture In Orbit’ show at the Science Museum was a significant achievement as it was the first time I had showcased work outside of Ravensbourne. I collaborated with fashion students as well as students on the MA Wearable Futures course. I learnt so much from them; they are still contacts that I can rely on today. The fashion students were more traditional in their designs, while the MA students focused on different aspects of technology, so there was a wealth of experience to learn from. I created a 3D necklace and vacuum-formed helmet. My pieces were highly conceptual; being a space project there was room to do something different. I was grateful for the opportunity and it pushed me to learn how to use 3D software, which was something I was uncomfortable with before. After the event I had the opportunity to chat with industry professionals, which was a great way to learn about the importance of networking in my future professional development.

My tutors had a strong influence on my designs during the concept development stages as they encouraged me to be sensitive with what I hoped to relay. They helped me understand how to be sensitive in the design process when focusing on real life issues. During the production stages the prototyping team were also very hands on and supportive. They were always available to help me with the production of my designs and give me great advice on what was realistic and achievable.

I have been working as an assistant designer at Leathertrove in Richmond for a few years now. It’s a family business and I was keen to work somewhere smaller and less commercial. They create small leather goods, such as makeup bags, tote bags and heavy duty rucksacks. It was important to me to be hands-on with my work and learn about the day-to-day business as well as the creative side. My time there has been crucial to my growth as a handbag designer and I have learnt a lot about working with different types of leather, pattern-cutting and using industrial machinery.

Currently, I am developing ideas for my own leather accessories business. I decided to progress the idea at the start of this year, as I had been debating it during my time at Ravensbourne. I have managed to get some great people on board with the skills needed to develop my business. The most challenging aspect is gaining the right funding to develop my ideas, as well as being strict with deadlines so the business develops as planned.  

Learning skills at Ravensbourne like how to approach the design process of creating a range has been a great advantage. The fashion course also helped me to be able to look at a lineup critically, keep a collection in sync while retaining unique standalone features and develop my time management skills.

If I could give one piece of advice to current students I would tell them to find their own niche in the industry. Your work will be more appealing if you have a distinct approach to design and you will have a better chance of finding work in the area that best suits your individual talents, passions and experience. Also try to find a healthy balance between work and rest. If you can develop that discipline during your studies, it is a helpful skill to carry through your future jobs and will make you more productive overall.

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