Ethical Fashion Intern
"Being ethical doesn’t have to mean denying yourself the good things in life;
it simply means choosing to go about them in another way.
I’m Chloe Harris, and I’m an intern at ethical fashion company Ethics Girls.
Being passionate about fashion shouldn’t mean caring less about the world. Ethics Girls is a website that sells ethical fashion – everything is fairly-traded, ethically produced and organic. I’m an intern, so I have a broad range of responsibilities, which means that I don’t get bored! One of my key duties is uploading images of new fashion collections to our website.
As an intern my position is unpaid, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to get relevant experience that will help me to progress in the future. Plus, I love what I do so much that it doesn’t actually feel like work!
Tell us about your job – where do you work and what do you do?I work as an intern at Ethics Girls, an ethical fashion company. My role is on a part-time basis, so it allows me to work as a receptionist a few days a week to pay the rent. Being an intern means you get great experience within companies that you would not otherwise have the chance to work for at this early stage in your career. My responsibilities are diverse, allowing me to sample many different parts of the job, so it’s never boring!
My main duties involve the uploading of new collections to our website ready for customers to buy, researching ways to advertise and promote the company, chasing up suppliers and monitoring the completion of tasks, and organising volunteers and local events.
What inspired you to do what you do? How did you get into it, did you have a plan?I’ve always had a passion for fashion; I love being involved in such a creative and free process. After school I went straight into a foundation degree in Art & Design, and the plan was to follow it up with a degree in fashion and go from there. Although I loved my time on the course and learned a lot, I felt that I wanted to experience more and mature a bit before I started the career process. So, a friend and I flew off to Australia for 2 years where we travelled, worked any job we could find, joined in with communities and made friends, and finally flew home via some other countries. It was the best 2 years of my life – it wasn’t at all easy, but was totally rewarding and actually changed my direction in life, and in turn led to my position at Ethics Girls. I‘m still as much in love with fashion as I ever was, but alongside it, through my experience of so many different cultures, is now a real desire to promote and raise awareness of fair-trade. To care about fashion shouldn’t mean caring less about the world; it’s great for me to be able to take the things that I love and am passionate about, and combine them to inspire a change in the way the fashion industry works.
Why is your job meaningful? Both to you personally, and in how it benefits the wider world in terms of climate change and other environmental challenges.People, especially girls, love to shop! We love having nice things and seeing new fashions and feeling good about ourselves. That will never change, and it doesn’t have to, but what we can change is the process by which fashion is made and sold, and the way in which we shop. Ethics Girls is an online store selling a huge variety of everything a girl could wish for. It’s also, however, all fairly-traded and ethically produced, and completely organic. It provides an ethical and eco-friendly alternative for those who love fashion and who care about our world and where we are heading. It’s really about making a choice - being ethical doesn’t have to mean denying yourself the good things in life; it simply means choosing to go about them in another way.
Many jobs in this sector are very new, how long has your job existed?This truly is a very new industry, so many companies are relatively young and small. A lot of them are not able to take on more staff even if they wish to, or they simply don’t have the manpower to supervise an intern. However, things have already progressed and grown in the last 5-10 years and I believe that opportunities like these are only going to become more readily available.
What personal qualities do you think have got you where you are today?Being an intern and fighting your way into an industry that screams for a degree, and even then does not guarantee you a chance, means that you have to be persistent and not let yourself get disheartened. You need to be self-motivated and show initiative, and you cannot be afraid of hard work or putting in the hours - but equally you should not be afraid of making mistakes and of giving things a try, even if you don’t think you can do it!
What are the essential skills for your job?In an ever changing technical world, computer skills are essential (but, with schools including this more and more at an earlier stage, I don’t think it’s something for younger generations to worry about - chances are they will be helping the employers!). I’d say that creative flair alongside a bit of common business sense would also be essential.
What qualifications do you have? Are these typical for people in your role?I completed my GCSEs (all at A*-C) then did A-levels, focusing on a diverse and well-rounded portfolio rather than results, as I knew that’s what would get me onto the foundation degree, and from there onto the degree if I chose to do it. My portfolio consisted of a year studying Design & Technology, a year studying Photography, and a 2 year A-level in Art, plus GCSE work studying Fashion.
Whilst doing my foundation degree in Art & Design, I took evening classes and completed a Level 3 in Fashion & Photographic Make-up. This not only helped with projects at college, but also broadened my skill set even more, and showed that I was self-motivated.
Most people in my position do have a degree, and I have to admit there are more doors open to you if you have one. However, it seems to me that once you are in the door the process is the same; most people following this route generally have to start with internships or very small roles. So, although having a degree opens more doors, it certainly isn’t impossible for those who want to try a different route to succeed.
What do you think most helped you get where you are now?Learning to show myself off to my best advantage. Picking up little skills, experiences, and qualifications along the way to make me stand out from others. Being enthusiastic and passionate about what I want to do.
Please describe a typical working dayWhen I’m interning I work from home, so it tends to be an easy start to the day as I’m not much of a morning person! I check e-mails and prioritise tasks. I’m a big list person – it means that I don’t forget anything, and I get things done on time. Once I’ve got a rough target for the day, I make a start on what needs to be done first. Generally, there’s a new collection that requires images to be resized and uploaded to the website for customers to shop from. Sometimes images are missing or too small, so I chase suppliers up for anything that’s needed. I check and respond to our Facebook groups, do research, and upload new content to the groups. At the moment I’m organising an event, so I check the work log to see what needs doing, update it with what’s been completed, and chase up any loose ends. I’ll speak to my boss and update her on tasks, talk through ideas and begin new projects. Finally, there are always e-mails flying around between myself and the rest of the team – because we all work from home it’s the best way of keeping in touch.
What do you enjoy most and least about what you do?I love the diversity in what I do, and I love being on the front line and seeing new collections as they come in.
There are monotonous elements - as there are in all jobs. Sometimes the collections are enormous and the list of images that need resizing and uploading can seem endless.
Working from home is great, but at times it would be nice to see the people I e-mail every day.