Let me take you on my fashion journey
I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Carley from Carley Johnson Fashion Connections, and I’m a fashion wholesale and brand launch expert. So the reason I’m doing this video today is to actually let you know a little bit more about me and the journey that I’ve been on and how I’ve managed to get to get to the point of running my own consultancy and publishing online courses.
So this video’s purpose is to encourage you that if you don’t know what your dream career is or if you’re not in your dream job right now, not to worry. I totally didn’t know what I wanted to do and only after trying, I realised that I did want to launch my own business.
So this is how my journey started.
Leeds College of Art & Design
My journey started at Leeds College of Art and Design where I chose to study textiles. I’ve always loved art and design and I was good at drawing. And so this led me to study textiles through going to a college, specifically focused on the arts. This opened my eyes and introduced me to new opportunities. Through attending Leeds College I entered competitions to gain my place at New Designers, a trade fair, and also to PV Premier Vision.
Both are really key trade fairs in fashion. And through going to these trade fairs, I actually managed to sell some of my designs to the likes of DKNY, Phillip Lim and also Diane Von Furstenberg. So through challenging myself and entering these competitions in which to show my work, I then managed to get an internship at DVF.
Diane Von Furstenbug (DVF)
The internship At DVF was one of the few. As I also completed internships in London during my studies, but this one was pretty spectacular! I managed to work for DVF in New York, in the print team. So through this experience, I learned hands-on, actually what it takes to be part of an NYC fashion show, of which I was present for in 2010. This was an amazing hands-on experience working in a design team. It also taught me how to talk with management, how to meet high expectations, amongst other experiences. It was fantastic!
I highly recommend internships to anyone that is currently in the studying process. Try to get an internship.
From working at DVF, I worked with two incredible designers, and actually, they put the next step in place for my career and introduced me to a design studio in London. So I moved back to England and started my next role.
The Design Collection Studio, London
I moved to London, and I started my very first design job working for a creative studio where I had a lot of freedom. I got to write my own briefs and I’ve got to sell my designs to many studios around the world, again at trade fairs. So this opened my eyes to the challenges of working in a studio and working at a fast-paced environment with very little money.
It was, um, challenging, let’s say. So from experiencing design firsthand, working in a very creative studio, I actually decided it wasn’t for me and I wanted to move into 9 to 5 job. I wanted the comfort and stability of working in a corporate environment.
So I actually chose to move into buying. I didn’t have a degree in buying and I had no previous experience in buying, but I chose to apply for different roles on the basis of my fashion knowledge.
"So I actually chose to move into buying. I didn't have a degree in buying and I had no previous experience in buying, but I chose to apply for different roles on the basis of my fashion knowledge."
DCK Concessions - Miss Selfridge
I took a career change and chose to start at the bottom as a BA. I worked for DCK concessions, which is a company that works in jewellery concessions around the UK.
Within DCK Concessions I was actually based in the Miss Selfridge team and diva was the name of the jewellery, but the brand was Miss Selfridge. This was a fantastic introduction to buying as this specific role wasn’t just about buying, but also product development. This meant that I still had a hands on role with the actual product itself. For example, when a sample came back and it wasn’t right, we’d actually fix it. We’d make it how we wanted it to look.
DCK Concession gave me an introduction to buying critical path and speaking to suppliers, along with the hands-on development. From there, I actually moved into apparel, as I’d always worked with textiles and that was my real passion. I loved working with fabrics, and I wanted to actually get back into clothing so I sidestepped into New Look.
New Look - London
New Look if you don’t know is a high street brand, and it is huge a brand selling globally and around the time I was there it had probably 800 stores. So New Look stepped up my buying knowledge as it was a huge corporation that was really fast-paced.
During my time at New Look I worked in a few departments. I worked in Label Loung where we dealt with outside brands. One of the brands that I got to work with, was Kelly Brook. I actually got to work with her first hand along with a designer, and we managed the process through to launch.
Aside from that, I moved into a department which catered to the plus-size customer. So again, this developed and strengthen my buying knowledge as I got to work with a different customer base which is purely based around body size. It broadened my horizons on different customer profiles, different trends and the way fabric fits the body. So it was a really good department to work in.
To progress my career to the next level, I was actually KPI to, to launch New Look onto ASOS. This was a challenge that my boss & I took at the time and the challenge was a success. It was at the very beginning of e-commerce booming in the UK and it was at the very beginning of when brands were looking to sell on different channels like ASOS.
Based on the success New Look then set up a wholesale division within the company. I started at the kind of the beginning of this team, and from this point, we then launched not only on ASOS, but actually on about 25 different channels.
During this time in this role, I onboarded a lot of partners, a lot of third-party platforms, and covered everything from the setup to the product selection, to working with manufacturers, to labeling. All the requirements that these platforms have.
It was a really, really challenging time where I learnt so much, it a career developing, a fantastic opportunity.
Let's pause for a moment
I want to highlight that I chose to move into this role in wholesale, it wasn’t a forced move. It was a choice. This is something that I really wanted to share with you to highlight that I’d moved from being a designer into being a buyer, and then I’d sidestepped again and moved into e-commerce, moving into sales, moving into wholesale.
I chose to take all of those steps, but specifically, more importantly, I saw an opportunity in e-commerce and I chose to progress my career and move into that field. It was filled with opportunity and possibility at the time.
So if you’re stuck at the moment deciding what you really want to do, I would advise you to take a step back and look at what you want to do, ask yourself what feels right, but also look at what’s happening in the world. Where are the opportunities? and what is going to be a good choice for your career and progression.
Forever New - Melbourne
I had got to a point in my life where I wanted to do something different so I moved to Australia. Upon moving to Australia, I gained a role at Forever New, another large business, and the role was gained based on a referral.
It is important that you move through your career and work at different brands. Why? because you build your reputation in the industry and gain recommendations.
I was employed at Forever New to launch their wholesale division, taking it from nothing to its current state today. It was a fantastic opportunity for me again developing and growing my career. During this role, I got the opportunity to bring all of my contacts that I’d made in the UK to Australia and to connect two worlds. At this time Australian e-commerce hadn’t boomed it was only in its infancy. Going to Australia when I did and being apart of the e-commerce growth was a smart decision I made that aided my career and progression.
Carley Johnson Fashion Connections
The next stage for me was deciding to go solo.
I wanted to feel the rewards and benefits that I had been getting through my work, that I been achieving for somebody else. It was now time to seek rewards for myself.
So I decided to set up my own consultancy and continued doing what I was always doing, working with brands launching them on e-commerce and growing them, but actually now doing it for myself.
So there you go. That’s my journey and I hope you have found it insightful and useful? You can see where my experience now comes from and the experience of the role that I’m doing as a consultant and also in my online fashion courses.
So if you are interested in launching your own fashion business please get in touch, I’d love to hear about your journey?
Enjoy the video and please send me any questions you might have. Thank you.