Francesca Valorsa’s relationship with FAD goes back to 2007, when she took part in Fashion Futures. Since then she has studied Fashion Design at Ravensbourne University, specialising in womenswear, worked as a FAD volunteer, taken part in its INTOFashion programme and now works as a technician in the fashion department at the University of East London.
During her time with the INTOFashion programme, Francesca attended workshops on personal branding and on fabrics, taking away valuable knowledge from both. “The branding workshop was good for me at the time, especially because I was about to interview for my job,” she says. “It really made a difference because I spoke to Della Nelson, former Head of Design at Very.co.uk, who led the workshop. She went through my CV and made me realise the experience I had was relevant. It was as much a confidence boost as anything else.”
Following the workshop, Della was matched with Francesca as her mentor, and the two conversed regularly, particularly about the upcoming job interview. “I had a couple of phone calls before the interview where she prepped me, and helped me sort out what I needed to tell people,” Francesca explains. “It was really useful.”
After a panel interview with the course leader for fashion, technical managers and HR, Francesca secured her job at the university in March and has been working there since. “The best thing you can do is research where you want to work,” Francesca advises. “A lot of people think they have, but when they arrive and the interviewer asks ‘who are we?’, they don’t know how to answer. I’ve also found it helps to approach an interview as something that’s as much an interview for you as it is for them, to figure out if it’s a team you want to be a part of.”
While Francesca enjoys the job she’s in now, given that it involves a lot of problem solving, encouraging of independent work and technical responsibility with machinery, the process in getting that job wasn’t without its challenges. “[Before that I was] freelancing as a seamstress for different people,” she explains. “I wasn’t feeling particularly good about it, and there were lots of gaps in work. I volunteered with FAD for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. Doing it made me seriously consider what I wanted to do career-wise and pursuing the technician job was a good place to start.”
Looking back now, Francesca is full of advice she’s keen to share with other budding fashion creatives. “Talk to other people because we’re all in the same boat when we’ve graduated,” she says. “Find people like Maria, Joanne or someone who’s already in the industry and has more experience that you can talk to.” Francesca also mentions the importance of keeping up with your craft. “If you have interests outside of work that helps,” she continues. “Keep up with your own practice if you can. That can be difficult but even if it’s just making stuff for yourself, it’s important.”
Looking back on her time with FAD in 2007, Francesca mentions how she can “still remember the people from industry that came in to talk about what they do and their route into it. Without FAD I probably would have still gone on to study fashion but I think it informs so much of your process, even subconsciously. Just the conversations you have, the people you’re meeting, as a student it’s a great experience.”