Sophie’s Guide to #Gradlyf

UTS Fashion grad SOPHIE CONNOLLY drops some advice on staying motivated, being way too persistent and turning being a chatterbox into a marketable skill.

Why fashion?

I picked fashion because when I was at school, I looked forward to textiles and honed my creativity in on it, with pretty amazing results. I was featured in the HSC exhibit and went from there!

Who or what motivates you?

My own motivation is my main push. I really believe in doing everything to the best of my ability. Creativity unfortunately isn’t always that cut and dry, so it’s always good to get out and be inspired by things like architecture and natural wear and tear to major cities: urban landscapes, stripped back walls, etc.

Within your fashion and textiles degree at UTS, you majored in PR – what lead you to this decision and how do you see this skill set informing or assisting your career?

I chose to sub-major in PR to give my creativity a bit of standing and theory behind the practice. The sub-major gave me a great standing in Communications, which is really relevant to where I work now. I’m such a chatterbox, so it was great to hone in on this skill in a professional manner, and strengthen it to become a career objective.

What kind of projects or programs were you involved with while studying, and how have these helped you advance in your career?

The fashion degree at UTS is always pushing you to go as far as you can. I was fortunate enough in my honours year project to have won the Swarovski grant, whereby Swarovski Crystal sponsor a student, who can pick/choose/create with crystal as a medium. It was very exciting, because as a student, crystal is often out of the budget. I enjoyed working with the reflections, light and shadow… it really opened up a whole new design medium for me, pushing my style further.

What’s your interning record like?

I did six internships while I studied fashion. I didn’t do them to get a role, as the fashion industry is notorious for not hiring from interns. I did them to help me work out what environment and skill set suited my personality best. It helped guide me, but definitely still learning while I’m working! I landed the positions by being persistent. I emailed companies and kept pursuing. At the end of the day, I don’t think many people would turn down free work, let alone a persistent young worker!

Your work is beautiful – something Swarovski recognised when they awarded you a scholarship in 2012 – from where do you draw your inspiration and ideas?

Inspiration for me very much comes from our environment or the past. The Art Deco era is a favourite, it’s a bit darker and richer than other eras in my mind, as well as distressed urban landscapes, Moroccan tarnished colours… maybe that’s my next collection right there!

The theme of this issue is ‘climax’ – what do you envision as the pinnacle of your career?

The pinnacle of my career – I actually think it will be in five years’ time! Young and spirited, I’m hoping to push and break boundaries now, so that in five years, I’m managing people and directing them on the processes.