Meet Maz: What it’s really like being a Fashion Designer
There are few people I know who are more stylish than this woman. She’s the kind of person who can throw on a T-shirt and look like she’s ready for a fashion show. She has a style that is just so relaxed but polished and put together at the same time, how is that even possible? With her arms covered in tattoos, her long black hair and her laid back style that just comes naturally to her, you can see why she chose a career in fashion.
This woman oozes confidence and knows how to pull an outfit together for any occasion. After eight years in the fashion industry working high pressured jobs, she recently launched her own image consultancy. If your closet is feeling a little outdated, you probably need her to come and help you detox your old style and fill it with items that you love and pieces that suit you and your body.
What is your job / what field are you in?
I just left my full-time career as a Senior Fashion Designer for a large design centre where manufacture clothing for most of the South African retailers. I have decided to reflect on what would make me happy and how to combine those two things. My two great passions are helping people and fashion – so how do you bring those together? That is how The Image Consultant was born. I launched my Image consultancy on 9 April, and I kept my rates quite affordable so that it is not a luxury – more of an investment in yourself and your own confidence. I am so excited to put my skills and my experience to good use.
Do you need a qualification for it? If yes, what and how long does it take?
For the most part, yes you do. There are a number of institutions across South Africa that offer courses. I studied for three years and received my NQ4, national diploma in fashion design and garment technology. At the same time I also got my international diploma which was also for three years – creative design and garment construction. These courses are extremely expensive, but there are also a few short courses that people can do. In the end, talent and passion matters most. If I could do it all over again, I would rather have studied for a BBA, or something a bit more “substantial” and do fashion design as a short course.
How did you get into it?
It is something I have always wanted to do. It has always been a passion of mine. When I was in high school I won a number of fashion design competitions which kind of paved the way for me. I actually wanted to study law, but it was not exciting enough for me!
How long have you been doing this?
I have actively been working in the fashion industry for about 9-years now.
Do you remember when you first started? Tell us a bit about that.
I was very lucky with my first job. It was at Naartjie Kids and the owner, Anne Eales, took a massive chance on me. She mentored me and nurtured my talent. It was a very creative environment and a learned a hell of a lot.
Do you work for yourself or for a company or organisation?
I have always worked for a company. It took a lot of positive energy, late nights of pouring over the numbers and even more convincing from my husband to break free and start my own thing.
What’s an average day like for you at work?
MANIC. People have this preconceived notion that fashion is such a glamorous industry, filled with parties, catwalks and champagne. It cannot be further away from the truth. I used to start work at 7:20am, check my e-mails (because I work with suppliers from all over the world, I usually woke up to 90-120 e-mails in my inbox), I set out our priorities for the day and then started managing deadlines for my teams. I would sketch out the garments, I sourced the fabrics, trims, managed the sample set and their priorities for the day. I fitted every single garment that comes off the line and make sure it is perfect and that all measurements were up to spec before sending it to my clients. Meetings, phone calls, trend analysis, crisis management, costings and sales took up the rest of my day.
Now it is largely dependant on my clients and their needs and my days are broken into consultations, styling gigs and personal shopping trips while keeping up to date with sales and trends. It is such an interesting and constant evolving industry – there is never a dull moment. A large portion of my day is also taken up by my blog, which also contributes to a large portion of my self-employed salary!
What has been the most memorable moment for you in your career?
When I was given the amazing opportunity to showcase my 3rd year-range alongside Gavin Rajah at the Trinny & Susanna (What Not To Wear) fashion show. Also, the first time I was head-hunted and had two major fashion companies fight over me was pretty awesome, as shallow as that may seem!
What moment would you like to forget?
There are many. The fashion industry is not easy, it is not for everyone. I think the worst was when I worked for a company where my boss tried to force me to resign for being pregnant, me “getting fat and moving too slow” during my pregnancy was a huge issue for him. It turned into a big ugly battle with labour lawyers getting involved. I left for my maternity leave and never returned.
If you could live your life over, would you still do this?
Most probably not… Not if I knew what I know now. It is not a family friendly career… I would have still been in fashion, but I would have made very different choices.
What are some of the biggest challenges about this field?
Long hours and high stress levels. Difficult to move up and grow career-wise and limited jobs. With my image consultancy, it is hard to make people understand that it is not as big an expense as they would think it to be, and that it is so much more than discussing outfit choices. It is about working on your inner confidence and bringing out your best style! Simplifying life and making a lasting impression.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into this field?
Forget what you saw on Devil Wears Prada. Go job shadow someone for a month, and if you still want to do this – by all means go for it. Don’t waste your time studying for a 4th year, and start working, interning and gaining experience as early as possible. Anything extra you do (like graphic design) will push your salary potential up – so learn as much as you can. Research the companies you apply for, READ your contract, never sign a restraint of trade. Contracts are negotiable.
Bio: Mariza “Maz” Halliday
Hi! I’m Maz…
I live on a beautiful farm in Cape Town, South Africa with my husband and our two gorgeous (and challenging) kids – Mikayla (7) and Knox (3).
I have over 8 years of experience actively working in the South African fashion industry as a merchandiser, trend analyst and fashion designer for some of the country’s leading retailers and boutiques, I decided to use the knowledge and experience gained to help my clients reach their full potential – authentically.
As a fashion designer, I got to create clothing that made women feel good about themselves – but within limit. I always had to limit myself to budget, guidelines, etc and after a while – I was just not happy with the turn the industry was taking. I want to make all women feel beautiful – not just those who can fit into the smallest size jeans. I want to make you feel amazing about yourself. With my image consultancy, I can finally do just that!
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