When you meet Ruth Connolly, you see virtually immediately why she’s on the fast track to success in the competitive world of Fashion Design. Articulate, focussed and incredibly talented are just three descriptions that immediately spring to mind. If you want to be impressed, really impressed, take a look at her portfolio blog.
Now on a year out from a four year BA degree course in Textiles at Loughborough University, Ruth’s clocking up some incredible work experience. She explained, “It’s been a really exciting year. I did two and a half months at the Design Company Tom Cody in the summer and learnt loads about hand-printing techniques; I then spent three months from September working for a design studio called Fusion in Copenhagen where I was producing 20 prints a week that were then sold by the company’s sales reps to all sorts of fashion houses, like River Island for example. I’ve just had an interview at Alexander McQueen and am still waiting to see if they’re going to give me an internship, and I’m off to H&M in Sweden in February where I’ll be working as a Print Design Assistant for three months.
“I then did a month’s work experience back in the Art & Design Department at Reigate in January, followed by a three month stint working as a design assistant in the “Ladies’ Everyday” department at H&M in Sweden. So it’s been a really productive year!”
Ruth achieved top grades at Reigate College, when she left in July 2012. She gained a Double * Distinction on her BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Art & Design (Fashion) – the equivalent to two A*s at A Level, an A in Dance, a B in English Literature & Language, and an A for her Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) that she choreographed a dance performance for.
Having been at Reigate School she said about her career choices, “I thought I would do Art A Level but when I came to one of the College Open Events, I got talking to one of the Fashion and Textiles teachers and I realised straight away that that’s what I wanted to do. I liked the idea of being able to apply my creative abilities to something that might lead directly to a career. I’ve been dancing since the age of four and before coming to College I thought that’s what I’d probably end up doing as a job. Dance is still a big part of my life and I still dance competitively at uni, but Textiles is definitely my main focus now.
I got offered places at both Glasgow School of Art and Falmouth to study Textiles but when I went to Loughborough I knew it was just a better fit for me. I didn’t do a Foundation Year first because I already knew I wanted to concentrate on Textiles, plus the BTEC Diploma gave me a great overall grounding in Art and Design so there didn’t seem much point.
In my first year at Loughborough we looked at Print Design, Weave and Multi-media and I got to create my first Design Collection. I then went on to specialise in Print Design in my second year, and worked with both Digital Printing and Screen Printing. The university has all sorts of brilliant contacts that I’ve tapped into on my year in industry.”
Ruth hopes to ultimately work for a high fashion company. After gaining experience as a print designer she’d like to either run her own company as a designer of fashion garments (which would involve doing a Masters Degree in Fashion Design first) or work as a team leader in concept design. She added,” Head of Art at Reigate, Emma Owen was a constant source of support and inspiration to me while at College. I think she might laugh if she knew that I also quite like the idea of teaching as well. She used to tell me I’d make a great teacher while I was still at College!’
Left Reigate College: 2012