Welcome to the June 2019 edition of the Career Inspo Blog!
This is a monthly interview with someone who has followed their passion, dreamed big and now has a successful and exciting career. Whether you are searching for your passion or looking for guidance and insight from those in your chosen industry, the Career Inspo blog will have something for everyone. After the success of the 2018 blog, I am so excited to be continuing the interviews through 2019 and I am sure this year’s line up will provide plenty of motivation and inspiration!
This month’s Career Inspo Interview is with James Castle. James is a British designer based in Berlin. Specialising in bespoke, made to measure clothing & bags, James launched his own label in 2010.
Sarah Ellis: Thank you for being this month’s Career Inspo feature! Please provide a summary of your business and what you do:
James Castle: I initially started making made to measure clothes and quickly diversified into making bags too. At first these were also made with certain people in mind, then I started offering them through an online shop in 2012. Most sales are now through the online store and third party retailers. I still make made to measure clothes where time allows and use real people as inspiration for my new designs.
SE: Why did you choose to pursue a career in fashion design?
J.C: Two weeks before I was due to start an engineering degree I got cold feet and dropped out before I had even started. Suddenly, with no idea what I wanted to do, I enrolled at an art college. It quite quickly became clear that I wanted to work in a design discipline, fashion felt the most natural to me.
SE: What was your route into this career?
J.C: After art school I completed a degree in Fashion at the university of Westminster. This also gave me the chance to work with designers across London. Early on I did a really wide range of different things, I wasn’t really sure where I was trying to go with it. Working in fashion PR gave me the opportunity to come to Berlin and only then did I have the confidence to start something by myself.
SE: What makes you jump out of bed in the morning to come to work?
J.C: The best days are always the ones where I get to create something new. There is an excitement associated with the design process. I am naturally quite inquisitive and really enjoy working out how something can function, and solving problems to bring ideas together.
SE: What have been your biggest challenges and learning curves? And what reignites your passion on the tough days?
J.C: Running a business that is predominantly online requires the constant seeking of attention to drive traffic. It isn’t something I am particularly comfortable with and being a fairly new marketplace means the picture is always evolving. When you think you fully understand something it is probably already too late, you have to keep yourself open to new ideas.
SE: What are the most memorable experiences in your career so far?
J.C: I still get a high every time I pass someone on the street carrying something I made. It is hard to explain why, but I put so much effort into making these pieces and it just brings me joy that someone has bought into that, it becomes part of their lives. I occasionally get emails with stories of the adventures people have been on with my bags, which I love, or photos of people clutching my bags at their weddings.
SE: What key strengths do you have that make you great at what you do?
J.C: A good mixture of creativity and persistence.
SE: Do you have a role model/mentor? If so, what have you learnt from them that has helped you in your career?
J.C: There isn’t one person, but there are so many things I have admired about people I have come across along the way.
SE: What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
J.C: Try as many things as you can and be prepared to say yes, even on the days you don’t want to. It becomes harder as you get older, the more experiences you have to draw from the better. Be as organized as possible.
JC: Pursue something you are really interested in, it is much easier to put in all the hard work if you also enjoy it.
Consider how any career will effect the rest of your life. Your personal aspirations need to be compatible with your professional life.
Be flexible. It might not always be part of the plan, but sometimes the leap of faith is the best decision you ever make.