Fashion, Beauty Therapy and Hairdressing form the three main sections within this industry. There are many opportunities for college graduates and school leavers, ranging from the highly creative to the more business-orientated roles.
Fashion Designers understand that clothes are much more than protection from the elements. Clothes can make people feel confident or powerful. Or they can be comforting. Clothing can be an artistic expression - a projection of the image people want the world to see.
While good fashion design will probably never be equated with a cure for disease or a solution for world hunger, fashion can make a person feel better. Though some may say fashion is purely superficial, appearance can have profound effects personally and to the world at large. Whether you think of royalty or rock stars, you visualize their appearance and presentation. What people wear projects who they are, or who they want to be!
The elegant and often eccentric styles found on the runways of Paris and New York do not represent the full scope of Fashion Designers' work. In reality, there are a multitude of opportunities in fashion design, from sportswear, to children's clothes, to haute couture. If you can wear it, someone has designed it.
Work roles in the fashion industry:
‘Imagine having an exciting high-paying job as a professional model. Imagine walking down a runway at a designer fashion show, or having your photo taken for Vogue or your favorite magazine.’
This is the wording of an add taken from a modeling recruitment website. Unfortunately this is far from everyday reality. Modeling is hard work. In Ireland models are used at venues to promote products, at launch parties to advertise products and in print and TV.
Many Models however find that they need to supplement their income as work is rarely in constant supply. The career of a Model can be short lived lasting only 2 to 3 years as taste in looks and trends are constantly changing. Few Models can work their way up in the modeling world and be in constant demand. If all this is not enough to put you off and if you believe you have the self discipline, determination and good lucks then begin your career search by contacting a modeling agency.
Fashion Clothing Designer
To be a Fashion Designer you need to be creative, have an eye for detail and be willing to try something new. The Fashion Designers’ key function is to come up with new and unique ideas for a clothes line. They are also responsible for developing patterns and overseeing production. Fashion Designers either work in house for a clothes manufacturer, on company collections or are self-employed and work on individual designs. This is intensely competitive and to succeed, candidates need to build up an impressive portfolio.
Dressmakers / Seamstress
As a Seamstress you are responsible for the creation of the designer’s ideas. Dressmaking is a very creative job and once you are known in your field you can work as a freelance Dressmaker working at fashion shows and getting to try your hand at creating a range of deigns and styles. A fashion degree or fashion course is the best way to start for both jobs as it is the perfect opportunity to learn the necessary techniques as well as getting advice from people in the industry. Work experience placements are often part of a fashion degree and are a good way of getting some contacts that may prove to be useful at the end of your course.
The Fashion Buyer is responsible for bulk orders of the clothes you see in high street shops. You need to have an eye for what looks good, be confident and good with people as there are lots of meetings with suppliers. Fashion Buyers generally get to travel a lot and have the advantage of knowing what is going to be big next season before anyone else. Attending a fashion course is a good way to find out more about current fashion trends. Once you have graduated, most Fashion Buyers start in a junior position and are trained up to be a buyer. Work experience is also a good way to get in.
Fashion Marketing and PR
A PR Assistant/Manager is responsible for representing a fashion brand to the public. You have to be confident as there is lots of public contact and be able to work both independently and in a team as you will be working closely with the marketing department as well as working independently to answer press enquiries. Working in marketing and PR does have its advantages; not only are there lots of freebies up for grabs, but if you are working for a popular brand you may also be able to meet the current face of the brand you are representing. No specific degree is necessary as you will be trained up on the job but a proven interest in fashion and good communication skills will definitely help.
Retail Sales and Assistant/Manager
Fashion Retail workers keep the retail side of the fashion businesses going, developing relationships with customers and acting as a personal stylist for anyone who walks through the door. A Retail Marketing Assistant/Manager is responsible for how a brand is presented in the store through shop windows, the layout of the clothes within the shop and in company publications. It can be a creative role and if you are a good communicator with lots of ideas then this could be the job for you.
A fashion Salesperson is responsible for selling a fashion brand to shops. You need to be confident, persuasive, very good with people and able to meet strict deadlines. The advantages of working in fashion sales is that will have the opportunity to travel a lot and meet a variety of people. It can also be lots of fun working as a team to meet your targets.
Getting into the industry
Because fashion design is a highly competitive job market, education level can make the difference between otherwise equally qualified candidates. In fact, education makes you a more appealing job candidate in any field. However, no matter what fashion design college you attend or which kind of degree you get, you should expect to start in an entry-level fashion design position. As you gain experience in the field, your position and salary will increase.
The Beauty industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Ireland today. Beauty therapists provide a wide range of face and body treatments. A Beauty therapist is in fact a Beautician, Body therapist and Electrolysist all in one. Treatments are designed to improve skin care and condition, and the work includes a range of electrotherapy treatments for face and body, all designed to help improve facial and body conditions. All forms of aesthetic treatments promote a feeling of well-being - consequently, the practitioner must be caring, tactful, intelligent, have a well-groomed appearance, especially their hands, which need to be sensitive and supple.
Beauty Therapists may perform the following tasks:
- Carry out skin analysis and give advice about skin and body care
- Perform facial or body massage and figure analysis and advise on exercise programs and nutrition
- Use a variety of treatments and electrical equipment to treat skin and body conditions
A Make-up artist is an artist who creates makeup and prosthetics for theatrical, television, film and other similar productions including the modeling world. In some cases, the title of Make-up Artist can also include the responsibilities of hair and wig design as well.
Make-up artists are normally extremely well-paying jobs, especially in the modeling and photography world. This is due to the ability to display a face to its full potential as well as establish a working relationship with the actor or person being worked on.
Image consultants are specialists who combine all aspects of fashion, beauty and haircare into a single profession. They provide advice and expertise on all aspects of the way a person (or corporation) manages their public image. Image consultants and Make-up artists are mainly self-employed, but they may also be represented by an agency, or employed by a production company.
The growing interest in feeling fit and looking good has created a growth in opportunities for well-trained professionals. It is estimated that employment growth within the industry over the next 5 years will to be strong.
Once specialised, many practitioners develop their skills further into advanced techniques: as an Electrologist you can learn to remove thread veins and warts; as an Aromatherapist you can use essential oils and other aromatic compounds from plants for the purpose of affecting a person's mood or health. Other areas entered include Shiatsu, Reiki or Indian Head massage. Some therapists even move into other related areas such as marketing, sales and retailing.
Getting into the industry
Work experience in a beauty salon, or working as a Sales Assistant in a pharmacy or retail store can provide experience which may be an advantage to those ultimately wishing to work in this industry. It provides experience in dealing with the public and the opportunity to meet others in the industry, as well as a broad familiarity with beauty products.
Most people train by taking full-time courses at a college. Entrants can be anything from seventeen years old and upwards. There are a number of Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses on offer that provide good professional starting points into this sector. Numerous courses are also offered by private beauty training colleges throughout Ireland.
It takes about 2 years of training and study to complete the three main areas of Beautician, Body Therapy and Electrolysis. Courses and Colleges may specialize in various aspect of beauty.
There is no single examining body, so it is important that students ensure that their course leads to examinations approved by one of the following organisations:
- CIDESCO (Comite International d'Esthetiques et de Cosmetologie). This is a world-wide organization, and the qualification is accepted in 35 countries world-wide. All schools work to the same syllabus worldwide.
- CIBTAC (Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology), which is the examining body of the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC). All schools work to the same syllabus.
- ITEC (International Therapy Examination Council)
- IHBC (International Health & Beauty Council)
- VTCT (Vocational Training Charitable Trust )
- Edexcel BTEC and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
- City & Guilds
Hairdressers may be employed in women’s, men’s or unisex salons. They spend most of the day on their feet and are usually required to work flexible hours to fit in with salon hours of business. They have high level of public contact, so need to be well-presented with good communication skills.
A Hairdressers job may include the following tasks: shampoo, condition and rinse hair, cut hair using clippers, scissors or razors, provide services such as bleaching, conditioning, permanent waving, straightening and tinting, dry and style hair using brushes, combs and other equipment and advise clients on hair care.
There are many opportunities within the industry, and good Hairdressers are always in demand. The majority of Hairdressers are employed in hairdressing salons. Most salons employ between four and six people, although some salons employ a much larger numbers of Hairdressers. Most salons also employ apprentices.
There are many career paths available for qualified Hairdressers. Employment may be found as stylists for TV, film, theatre, or advertising agencies. Many Hairdressers set up their own business, enter into a partnership or teach hairdressing – usually after working in the industry for a number of years.
Getting into hairdressing
Hairdressing is a trade qualification, which means that there are formal requirements to become a qualified Hairdresser. Most salons will take on trainees for 3 or 4 years teaching them all the skills involved. There are numerous PLC hairdressing courses that tend to combine hairdressing with beauty therapy. Those who have a course of training done will need to spend less time working as apprentices on the job.