1 year a go Austin went to the Meet the Manufacturer exhibition in search of employment, read his story 1 year on...
My names Austin, I’m Blue Badge Co’s Product Developer and Digital Designer. I’ll briefly give you a little bit of background information before we get into how I joined the Blue Badge Co. team. Just over 2 years ago, I completed a Masters Degree at the London College of Fashion specialising in Menswear. After graduating and working as an intern for various design houses in London, unpaid, and was finding it difficult to land a ‘paid’ job in London within the design sector. So, on my mission to find paid work I managed to get a job in TOPMAN’s flagship store on oxford street with the intention of finding a 'job job'. After my 6 month contract was up, without warning they laid me off. Just like that. I didn’t have much choice at this point not to move back to Bristol as I was sofa hopping between friends and it really wasn’t ideal. I moved back to Bristol and signed on while I was looking for a job, I landed my first interview after two weeks of applying to multiple roles. It was for a phone shop, they liked me and I was desperate for money so I took them up on the offer they gave me during the interview.
'Queen of shops!’
9-10 months passed and I had endured enough. I saw a advert on Facebook looking for people who could sew, I emailed the organiser, Kate, and I was arranged to volunteer the next day at Meet the Manufacturer for Mary Portas “Queen of shops!’. At 4am next morning I was on a coach heading for London, a home from home for me. I arrived in Hammersmith at 6.30am and couldn’t have felt more refreshed. I headed straight for the tube where I luckily still had money on my Oyster card from when I was living in London, it really felt like I hadn’t left and I was on a mission to find something more fulfilling.
I was greeted by Kate Hills, the event organiser, who was incredibly welcoming after my very early start that morning. She showed me around the event space and introduced me to the team I would be working alongside. Here is a promotional video explaining what the event is all about!
We were making dresses to be sold in Mary Portas’ Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children
After getting used to the sewing processes of the dress I was able to talk to passers by and give demonstrations of machinery which had been donated by AESewing for the show. I overheard Tom, Operations Manager from Blue Badge Co. talking to one of the other seamstresses and mentioning a studio based in Bristol, I immediately went over and introduced myself and luckily had a C.V to hand! After chatting about what we were doing on the stand and giving a brief introduction of what I had done, what experience I have etc. he said he’d give me a call. Back in Bristol, I arranged to meet Tom at the studio to see what Blue Badge Co. was all about. At the time they were based in Montpellier in a relatively small office space, Tom interviewed me and I was trialled as part of the manufacturing team for half a day. Luckily they liked what standard my sewing skills were like and I was taken on as a part time production assistant. My relationship with the company developed and soon I was showing them ways to be more efficient in the manufacturing of certain products. I helped the team with advice and tips in regards to the construction of new products and soon i was developing new products myself. Since I joined the company has moved to larger premises and grown into a Independent Lifestyle brand offering a vast array of products which are really exciting. Developing products and problem solving are a few of my favourite things to do.
Every day is a creative adventure
I say to my friends I never have a ‘typical day’ at work because every day is so different. I'm also involved with the marketing team discussing different approaches to the marketing and future campaigns for new product releases. I create the visual content for our social media channels Facebook Twitter as well as our Instagram account. It’s a really exciting process seeing the development of the business, and creating innovative products for it that serve a purpose while remaining pleasing on the eye, in a market full of dull clinical products.
So, this year I’m attending ‘Meet the Manufacturer’ researching other British manufacturers to aid Blue Badge Co.’s expanding product ranges. I’m really buzzing to see what new and exciting stands the show has to offer this year as we have some big ideas for some fabulously British made products.
I also got sent a wonderful note from Mary Portas herself :)
Watch this space - I’ll be writing a blog recapping this year's event too!