FIVE things we learned from Emma J Shipley

by Joanne Wilcox
First-year BA (Hons) Textile Design student

Emma J Shipley inspired us all at her talk.  Graduating in 2008, she has since established her own company and worked with companies from the likes of Disney to Swarovski. She works with hand drawn techniques with a digital flare to create her unique designs.

But what were the top five things her visit taught us?


  1. At university make the most of industry briefs! – they are the perfect opportunity to get your designs out there at an early stage.
  2. Design Identity – make sure your name is attributed to your designs when working on commissions with companies.  This will help you to become known in the industry, helping you when trying to set up your own company if you desire.
  3. Be Proactive! – make sure you take the opportunities given to you and work for more opportunities.  It will help you to grow in the industry, along with your work.
  4. Knowledge comes with experience – don’t expect to know everything when you first start your career, the industry is different and there are things you will learn along the way, for example, fabric knowledge, how to start up a business, what factories to work with. This knowledge will gradually build up over time and is something that will grow with you to complement your qualifications, perhaps through trial and error but that’s okay!
  5. Learn from internships/work placements – even if you’re not working in part of the company you want to be, it’s still a very valuable experience! It will give you an insight into the business and allow you to work alongside professionals, learning from them and their experiences.  It can also help you to build up contacts in the industry.  When applying to a work placement, say why you want to go, but also what you can offer them. This will help you stand out from others and let the company see why it will be beneficial for them to take you on.


The Fashioning Futures lecture series are all about giving you an insight into industry, bringing you industry knowledge and building up networks within business.  What you take away from these lectures can be valuable to you when you leave university. I would definitely recommend them.

Find out more about BA (Hons) Textile Design at Birmingham City University.