“Tech has some great opportunities for creative people – and so many roles I’d never even heard of!”
Missy Yusuf, Fashion Designer (Misemi) and Freelance UX/UI Designer
Fashion design was always my thing when I was growing up. I knew that was where I wanted my career to be but my parents were pretty insistent on me studying something more ‘secure’ at university. They’re Nigerian and, like a lot of parents, they wanted me to get what they referred to as a stable job, such as being a doctor or a lawyer. The pair of them are biomedical scientists and work for the NHS, but science didn’t appeal to me at all. My compromise was to study architecture at university, as I sensed there would be some design and creativity involved so I might be able to get something out of it.
I completed the full three years of my degree – and I’m glad I gave it a go – but I didn’t enjoy it that much. It made me even more determined to get a job in fashion. I went on some evening courses to improve my sewing and to learn more about the business side of fashion, and then I launched my own clothing label (Misemi). It’s exciting and hard work, but a fashion label has a slow trajectory so however amazing your clothes may be, you still don’t know how they will be received. This job doesn’t make me enough money at the moment, so I have another job to do alongside it. Although this may eat into time to work on my clothing label, it brings in some extra funds which helps the business.
Previously I had been working in a vintage shop when we went into lockdown, but then suddenly I was at home, with no money, and realising that retail just wasn’t reliable as a side job in these circumstances. I felt a bit lost and couldn’t see how my life was going to work out, or what I was going to do. It was probably Twitter that led me to becoming a UX/UI Designer – someone had mentioned it and I didn’t have a clue what it was. I researched it and the role sounded like something I had the skills for: you need to be creative and imaginative, but also be able to work to a brief and deliver what a client needs. It’s a bit like architecture or fashion design in that way. Form and function must come together designed around a customer, although in this case, it’s a user and you’re designing website journeys and interfaces.
I did a UX/UI design course and I was completely hooked. I then wanted to know more so started watching videos on YouTube which meant that I got an insight into what a day in this role would actually be like. I’d advise anyone thinking about a specific job to do that – there’s loads of useful videos on YouTube. Internships and work experience are really helpful too; I did that for architecture and fashion design to try and understand the reality of working in the sectors. It doesn’t have to be expensive either; if they won’t pay you, perhaps just shadow the company for a day.
Balancing two different jobs is pretty full-on and I seem to be busy most of the time, but I do like the fact that I can shift between quite different tasks and worlds. One minute I’m sewing clothes and the next creating a user avatar to help me design a new website interface. I always make time for myself though – lockdown showed me that I need to slow down sometimes and just switch off, whether that’s hanging out with my friends or watching something a bit mindless on Netflix.
I never expected to be working in the tech sector alongside running a fashion business but it’s a brilliant place to find creative jobs. There are so many opportunities and loads of roles you’ve never even heard of but would actually love doing. You don’t really need a university degree to get a break either; lots of people just do online courses, bootcamps or apprenticeship schemes that give you the skills you need.
If you’re thinking of starting your own business it’s a good idea to have a stable job on the side and the tech industry is a fab place for opportunities like that. My other piece of advice is that planning is essential if you’re going to be an entrepreneur. As my dad says, you need a plan A, B and C. Read things online, take a course and do work experience. But then just be confident and go for it: don’t let fear stop you! My sister is 16 and she’s freaking out about her future, but I tell her she doesn’t have to know what she wants to do or make massive career decisions right now. Young people have loads of time to try different things and switch jobs, so just try things out and don’t worry too much about it.
Check out Missy’s clothing label and find out more about her business at misemi.co.uk.
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