In the Woo Hot Seat this week, we have fashion designer Robyn Heald.
I remember the butterflies I got when I first saw Robyn’s creations at Graduate Fashion Week. I knew from that moment, she would go on to do amazing things.
There, she was spotted by talent scouts from Abercrombie & Fitch, who jetted her off to work in their headquarters in Ohio, USA. Then, she was head-hunted by our British equivalent, Jack Wills, designing everything from jumpers to underpants (we can only imagine the fit model sessions) and has recently embarked on her next exciting venture.
Now embracing the best of both worlds – life in the city and the beach – Robyn lives in the bustling and super-trendy delights of East London, and commutes to the idyllic shores of Salcombe in Devon, to design the womenswear offering for nautical-inspired leisurewear company Quba & Co.
Read all about Robyn’s journey as a fashion designer, what inspires her and being on location at Quba & Co’s AW14 photoshoot (and meet Wilbur the whale too!) Ahoy, sailor.
Where the dream began
I am a northern girl at heart, but right now East London is my home. I have always loved fashion and being creative. I decided it would be my career at a very young age when I watched my cousins’ graduate fashion show in London at the age of 11. From then on I wanted to be just like her! After graduating from Leeds University with a first-class honours degree in fashion design, I was headhunted for my first job by Abercrombie & Fitch in Ohio, USA. This was a fantastic experience and I learnt a lot – fast! When I moved back to the UK, I took the job with Jack Wills and within six months I had met my boyfriend James, who I am marrying next year 🙂
Is very vintage inspired, I love the 50s in particular and find the silhouettes from that era suit my curvy figure the best. I wear a lot of floral prints and love to mix and match unexpected patterns together [which is very on trend this season] and I am a big fan of heels, I don’t quite feel right without them!
Why I love my job
My biggest passion is knitwear, I love designing it, making it – whether by hand or machine – and coming up with new patterns. I also love having the freedom that I am given to design the product that I like. Plus it’s really satisfying to see your work in store and the customer buying it!
How I got my job
I took textiles and art A-levels, then did a fashion design BA degree at the Leeds University. The best experience I got during this, was a year’s work placement at River Island. It really helped me to get better at my job for when I graduated. It can be hard to find work in fashion if you don’t have any previous experience.
Advice to aspiring fashion designers
You have to really want it. Be passionate about what you are doing, if not you will quickly loose enthusiasm for it. Also, never be afraid to ask people for help, make good contacts and ask them for work experience. When I was younger, the contacts that I made in fashion really helped me to gain my experience, and has got me to where I am today. I always try to help fashion graduates and students when I can.
My first job ever
Painting Henna tattoos on tourists under the ‘Big One’ roller coaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Not for the faint hearted…
When I’m not working, I’m doing…
CRAFT! I never stop making things and usually have about five projects on the go at one time. This can be anything from a quilt I am making for a friends wedding present, to a jumper I am knitting for myself. I love to knit, crochet, sew, quilt and pattern cut, and my home is filled with projects that I have done over the years. I have made everything from quilts, cushions and jumpers.
Where I get my inspiration
Pinterest is my favourite place to look for inspiration at the moment. But I love getting out to local markets too – Borough Market, Chatsworth Road, Spitalfields and Brick Lane are amazing.
My favourite blogs
All-time favourite designer
Paul Smith. He takes inspiration from the most unexpected things!
My style crush
Apart from Sarah Woo [aww thank you, Robyn! ♥ ] and Audrey Hepburn.
You can find me shopping
A 1960s wool coat from eBay. It’s pure Scottish wool and in an amazing black and white herringbone pattern. It’s beautiful and the warmest coat I own! It only cost £40.
Key staples for SS14
Flat shoes (to my horror!) double denim, monochrome, patterns and prints.
What we have to look to for AW14
Trend-wise Quba is very much a lifestyle brand, focusing on activities such as outdoor sailing, so we don’t tend to follow trends too closely. It’s about keeping our product classic. Although, I’m always on the look out for nautical trends; classic navy and white stripes.
On location at Quba & Co AW14 shoot
I was so excited for my first photoshoot with Quba. I chose the direction for hair and make up, and of course, I got to do the styling too! Our model was gorgeous, as were the locations. We went to beautiful beaches on the south coast of Devon, keeping true to our British nautical heritage.
Top three pieces (chosen by Sarah Woo)
Cool fact: these are made from previously-used boat sails, making every jacket completely unique.
Top style tip (back to Robyn)
Anything goes! People worry too much about whether garments match and what goes together. If you like it, wear it!
Best advice I ever received
Nothing worth while is ever easy.
Favourite experience so far
My boyfriend proposing to me in a beautiful little park filled with daffodils in my home town.