Katrina Benina - BA (Hons) Fashion Accessory Design 2017
I was looking for a London-based institution with a good reputation in fashion, prestigious alumni and high employability rates - Ravensbourne matched those criteria.
I first found out about the institution looking at the ‘Best Fashion Schools’ rankings on fashionista.com
. I was attracted by the innovative building and open-plan layout. The fashion accessory design course seemed to be innovation driven; I had heard modern technologies were a big part of the course and I was eager to see what I could create. The course seemed open-minded about all types of accessories, which was great as I didn’t have a clear idea of what kind of accessories interested me most at that stage.
London was an obvious choice because it is one of the world's most creative fashion capitals and many of my favourite brands are based here. I’m originally from Latvia and had been learning English at school. I thought it would be easier to move to an English speaking country and I felt like living and studying in London could open up new opportunities.
I worked as a design intern at Sophia Webster as part of my year two placement. Ravensbourne’s careers’ team was very helpful with portfolio preparation and I was able to secure an internship at one of my all-time favourite accessory brands, Sophia Webster. The most memorable part of the experience was the chance to participate in a fashion week presentation. I got an insight into the whole process: designing a collection, producing complimentary clothing, decorating the venue, dressing models and enjoying the event itself. Everyone was passionate about their roles which was really inspiring.
My placement gave me the chance to test my existing skills and gain new ones while getting industry experience. I started my third year ready to create my final collection and feeling much more confident about my abilities. I was also selected for Graduate Fashion Week to show my collection on the catwalk. It was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life because I had to present my work to a professional panel and get industry feedback about the collection I had been working on for almost a year. The panel helped me to get a better understanding of how my work fitted in with the industry.
Currently I’m working at Kurt Geiger. It started out as in internship shortly after I finished my studies, but I have been working hard and have been promoted to a permanent design assistant role. I am working on the accessory team designing bags, small leather goods, scarves and other accessories. I spend a lot of time using Adobe Illustrator to create designs, colour-ups and spec sheets. I also communicate with suppliers, attend meetings and complete other tasks that come up during the day. The most exciting part of my job is receiving samples from the factory and seeing how our designs have been realised.
A lot of the software the company works with is available to Ravensbourne students for free. Having tutorials on them when I was studying has been a great help. Proficiency in Adobe software is something that all design companies are looking for and Ravensbourne pushes students to be prepared for that.
Try to make use of the collaborative setup Ravensbourne promotes. Since working in the industry I have learnt the benefits of working in a team, sharing tasks, knowledge and ideas. Find someone to take great pictures or make a professional film about your collection; seek branding and website design advice; ask product design student for intricate technical solutions; pair your accessories with fashion students’ garments... Successful collaboration can do wonders and help you gain contacts which will be useful in your professional career.