Since graduating from BA Printed Textiles in 2007, Samantha Warren has been designing prints for a number of Britain’s favourite high street stores, from Marks & Spencer to Dorothy Perkins and Monsoon. Having gone full-time with her label last year, Samantha is now supplying independent boutiques and prestigious museums so we want to know what her advice is for other budding designers.
What drove you to a career in this area?
I was really interested in design from a young age. I remember as a child I used to collect printed sweet wrappers and wrapping paper and I loved to draw. I loved art at school. I chose it as an extra curricula activity and continued to study it through to A levels. I've always had a passion for art and design, especially textiles, fashion, architecture and interiors.
What do you love about what you do?
As well as being genuinely interested in and passionate about it, I find drawing and designing really relaxing. I love to experiment with prints and colour and look at different ways that they can be used as designs. I love finding inspiration from galleries, travelling and following design related social media channels
What made you choose to study BA Printed Textiles at Middlesex?
Originally I applied for fashion courses, but it was while I was in the process of looking that I came across the Printed Textile course at Middlesex. I visited the Open Day and realised it was exactly what I wanted to do.
How did you get your first career break?
House of Fraser employed me after university which gave me the confidence to pursue a design career in the fashion industry.
Working with such a big company really helped me to get to grips with the industry and how everything works in practice, as well as giving me great experience in dealing with a variety of people.
I was then offered the only Marks and Spencer Graduate Scheme place, which was my first contracted design job
The next big hurdle after that was giving up work and going full time in my own business in August last year. I got my first wholesale order with Anthropologie and that gave me the confidence and drive to really push my label.
How did you find the transition from designing for high street shops to being your own boss?
Designing for the High St disciplined my design schedule and taught me how to translate trends into design collections. My longest full time in house job was for M&S which was just over 18 months. While I loved it and it was a great experience, I found it really hard to be in the same environment every day. I knew I loved researching and designing and that I needed flexibility in my role and the freedom to explore my personal inspirations and work in inspiring environments. With this in mind, I was able to implement my own way of working and create my own business.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Being accepted onto the M&S graduate Scheme really paved the way for my career to flourish. Having Anthropologie place a wholesale order was pretty monumental and also being stocked in prestigious Museums such as the Fashion and Textile Museum and the British Museum
Any advice for budding designers?
Being in London and pursuing a career in design is very difficult as it's so competitive and the design industry can be brutal, so if you want to make it you need to be motivated and stay positive and true to yourself.
Stay active – attend workshops, conferences, exhibitions, share your knowledge, research, and notice what your competitors and what new students are doing.
Don't underestimate the power of networking. It isn't about handing out business cards, it's about showing interest in others' work, talking through ideas and sharing your passions. It's exciting. Most importantly, enjoy yourself.
See more of Samantha's work at www.samanthawarren.co.uk