Freelance designer and creative pattern cutter, Isabella Stefanelli, offered students a wonderful insight into the benefits of being your own boss in the fashion industry when she visited the LCCA campus to deliver an industry talk.
Isabella was enthusiastic about her life as a freelance designer: “The benefit is that you are the owner of yourself, and this means you take on all the responsibility. You are not involved in the system of a single label - you have your own system that has to be flexible and adaptable. You have the chance to know more reality, more people and in that sense it helps you to put things in prospective.”
“Do not forget, this is a business, and so you need to protect yourself with a contract. Get surrounded by professional help.”
As a designer and pattern cutter, Isabella explained how these two roles merge together.
“Most of the time, I create while draping. I have worked a lot as a creative pattern cutter, offering this service to other designers, and in doing that, me and the designer walk a very fine line that is sometimes melted into one whole experience and product. Therefore I alternate between two roles, or fuse them together.”
Isabella was born into the tailoring business, and has worked around clothing all of her life; it was almost second nature for her to seek a career in the industry. Her big break came very soon after she graduated from university: “I sent my CV to a few brands, and my first job in the industry was in Milan. I did design part-time, fabric illustration for kids.”
Asked what advice she would give students looking to secure their first job, Isabella offers an optimistic outlook.
“I would not be worried about securing a job as a concept, but instead put all your passion into learning and to welcoming opportunities, fashion related or not. You will learn a lot through working. Never forget your objective.”
The only internship Isabella ever did was with her father’s tailoring company. During her time spent in Milan, internships weren’t as popular as they are nowadays and Isabella also worked as a waitress to pay her rent. She then went on to become a full-time bag and jewellery designer for two years.
She told LCCA students: “Do not be scared to try. Enjoy the challenge of change. Stay real. Do not be fooled by the myth.”
Isabella reminds students who are looking to find a placement or internship within the fashion industry to keep in mind that there are a lot of opportunities out there to try and find something that suits them.
“If you have talent and you are there and ready to help, you'll be noticed and possibly hired,” she reassured them.