While many manufacturing sectors are perceived as male dominated, others, like fashion and textile manufacturing, have a distinctly female profile. Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8 TM talks to one of Made in GB’s ‘30 Under 30’ manufacturing champions about her work and the diversity of roles available in a variety of manufacturing sectors.
TM: What is your role and what are the main responsibilities?
I am a trainee designer at David Nieper, a UK-based manufacturer of lingerie, knitwear and clothing for women. I help design the company’s nightwear range. My main role within the design room is to work to the current designing season and produce a nightwear range that appeals to professional women. As well as design, I also help analyse buying trends, source and order fabrics and trims, and help out on photography shoots.
TM: What personal characteristics help you in your role?
My colleagues say that I am polite, patient and friendly. We all work closely as David Nieper is a family firm with 230 staff, so these characteristics really help.
TM: What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Analysing the sales figures of the garments I have designed is fascinating. It’s a great feeling to know that I have managed to understand the customer and produce something she wants.
TM: What do you consider to be your biggest personal success at the company so far?
Just how much I’ve learnt so far. I’m in a role that I really enjoy with lots of responsibility and variety. The fashion industry is very competitive, so I’m really happy to be employed in such a key design role and in a company that designs and manufactures everything in the UK.
TM: What first attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I wanted a role in the fashion manufacturing industry so that I could design wearable garments. Although it’s the design side that I find the most enjoyable, it is interesting to see what else is involved in achieving a successful range and to work alongside people in different jobs, including seamstresses and pattern cutters. Many of them have decades of experience and have helped develop my skills.
TM: How do you think best to get more young people interested in manufacturing?
The best way to get young people interested in manufacturing is for companies to open their doors so that young people can get hands-on experience. At David Nieper we run design competitions for local school children to help them get interested in careers in fashion and manufacturing at a really early age, and more than a 100 pupils visited the factory and design workshops earlier this year. In every industry, there is a range of jobs that need to be done to create and deliver the end product, and each job is as important as the next. When people visit, they are always amazed by the range of job opportunities, from design, manufacture, customer services, photography, graphics and even all the mailing done right here in Derbyshire.
TM: Do you think it is important to address gender balance in the UK’s manufacturing industry?
Although the manufacturing industry may be perceived as a male dominated arena, fashion is seen as more of a women’s industry. However, after working in the industry I know that it is mixed. Here, there are lots of job roles filled by both males and females. No one should be put off entering an industry because it is perceived as either male or female dominated.If you have the skills to do a job to a high standard, gender shouldn’t matter.