Clare Weston, mum to 8-month-old baby Marley, is, among other things, a kidswear editor at fashion powerhouse, the global trend forecaster WGSN, which is seen as the authority on trend predications for the creative industries. So, Clare certainly knows a thing or two about what exciting things are in store, (two or more years ahead of time, to be exact), for our children’s wardrobes.
Working in the kids’ fashion industry myself (as style editor at Gurgle magazine), I was particularly intrigued to interview Clare, to find out how she got ahead in this, most competitive of industries. And, how she is finding her newest role, as a working mum. Clare has kindly shared lots and lots of advice, experiences and top tips – so, keep reading for plenty of encouragement and inspiration…
“I was never a confident designer until I found what I loved doing, and found a role in which not only were the team amazing but I was supported and championed. In turn you thrive in that kind of environment and I feel your confidence really grows as does your personal development.” – Clare Weston
How would you describe your job, and how much of your time does it take?
I work part time for global trend forecaster WGSN, working to deliver trends for the kidswear market, editorial and design. I also freelance, designing and consulting in kidswear. I’m currently on maternity leave from WGSN, but freelancing when time allows – normally at nighttime.
How did you reach the job position you are in now?
After finishing my degree in fashion, I worked within the industry. I worked for high street suppliers then for a surf wear brand based in France, along with freelance work filling the gaps where and when I could. I then found the WGSN role advertised, which was my dream role, and was very lucky to get the job.
Backstage at a kids’ fashion show, part of Clare’s day job at WGSN
What was your biggest setback, and how did you overcome it?
I’d say my biggest set back was when I decided I wanted to work in kids and youth fashion so I had to begin an internship after a number of years in the industry to gain more experience. I had to swallow my pride and virtually start again earning nothing. I had to hope that internship would take me further and it did. I think it’s so important to change direction and take a risk to ensure you are doing the right thing.
Did you ever feel held back in the workplace, because you are a woman? If so, how did you conquer that?
Within the fashion industry you are constantly trying to learn and become an expert in your field and it is a very challenging industry as there is so much competition.
A lot of women work in the fashion industry, and in kidswear especially, so I feel very lucky to be a part of this niche industry. A lot of those creative woman have the same concerns and battles, so I don’t feel alone in that respect. I guess the only time I have struggled is when I worked for a surf brand, which is extremely male dominated and I found I was constantly fighting for my position, to be respected and taken seriously. I decided to be game to learn to surf, to learn French and just do my best. These experiences all helped me to learn how to handle certain roles, and situations.
Clare and Marley – “…eight months in and I’m still trying to figure all of this out…”
How did you gain confidence within your working role?
I feel very strongly about this, as I was never a confident designer until I found what I loved doing, and found a role in which not only were the team amazing but I was supported and championed. In turn you thrive in that kind of environment and I feel your confidence really grows as does your personal development. I have never worked in such a healthy environment than in the WGSN kidswear team, where you are treated with respect and encouraged.
We have a great laugh and together we all bring something different to kidswear .. I’m very lucky to have been accepted into the WGSN family! I think you also gain confidence from travelling to events, meeting other designers and industry specialists in PR or editorial and become friends and learn from each other.
How have you found the transition to motherhood in terms of your role – how are you juggling career and baby?
That’s an interesting one.. eight months in and I’m still trying to figure all of this out but I am lucky that being a kids trend forcaster and designer just means that I try to fit this into mum life with baby. I’m interested in the way I buy baby wear, and obviously the cost and need of things for him, combined with the awareness of brands and small designers. I am trying to meet other creative women in my area who work in the same industry and support them and their businesses but also get to know others in a similar position. You soon realise you have no money, or time, but doing what I do forces me to make decisions.
I’m trying to combine the two I don’t want to keep it separate and I’m lucky that I’m in kidswear and feel having had a baby has given me a new perspective on how I approach the industry plus my career.
How are you finding maternity leave? Enjoying the time off or itching to get back to work?
I am enjoying maternity leave, of course, but it’s tough as I do miss working. You work so hard to get to a certain point and it then feels very strange to not be at work each day. I have tried hard to network and feel lucky that with social media that I can stay in the loop. I find I have a bit of time now to be on the otherside and have a slightly different view on kidswear, maybe a more real view, perhaps?! I am of course unsure how it is all going to work but hoping it just will.. Millions do it, everyday!
What would you say to women who are interested in starting a career in your industry?
I would advise to self develop and really get to know the industry in which you plan on being in. Knowledge is key, as is work experience. I think you have to be patient yet ambitious and always strive for what you really want. I have a blackboard in our kitchen with our yearly hopes and dreams and career is always a big one. I find that reminding yourself each day of what you wish for helps with focus.
Do you find it hard to switch off from trendspotting?
I can’t just dress Marley in an outfit. It’s important to me that he expresses my kidswear personality and, of course, his own. I try to have fun with his look and his nursery and I love to find new brands or vintage designs that I can of course afford. I’m constantly following brands on social media so still in the loop and aware of what is trending. I am constantly thinking trends but as we tend to work 2 years in advance I’m always thinking beyond what I see now but also seeing how we may have influenced trends today.
What are your three top tips for finding a career in fashion?
- Work experience
- Learning and developing as much as possible
- And research .. Know your subject and enjoy your subject. Although, sometimes a route you don’t think is ideal can lead you on to something even better, so being open minded and don’t restrict yourself is important.
How ambitious are you? Are you still striving for more success? How?
I’ve always been ambitious but my ambition has changed after having Marley as I need to adapt to accommodate him in to my life which is important to me. I want to be able to have a good balance as so many people do but it’s important I don’t loose who I was before baby came along.
What is your favourite/best social media tool?
Instagram. It’s visual and straight to the point. I feel so lucky to have met so many other industry people from connecting on Instagram, and to communicate with them. It’s a very personal way to express your life or work.
Read the other interviews in our ‘women inspiring women series
- Caroline Watson, stylist and bag designer, here
- Kids’ fashion designer Jessica Seaman, here
- Lifestyle PR guru Shosh Kazab, here
- Fashion and beauty blogger Danie Vanier, here
- Nutrition expert + lots more Yvonne Wake, here
- Writer and social media expert, Susie Verrill, here
Beautiful baby Marley in some of his cool threads