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Texprint 2011: Sophie Steller selects the SPINEXPO travel award winners

7 July 2011 by TexSelect in Fashion, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

Travel and business go hand in hand, particularly in the fashion industry. One of Texprint’s key objectives is to present the work of its highly talented selected graduate textile designers to industry internationally. Through the generous sponsorship of fibre, yarn and knitted fabric show SPINEXPO, 10 of Texprint’s selected designers will be travelling to Shanghai September 6-8, 2011 to show their work at the exhibition.

Sophie Steller is brilliantly placed to choose the winners of this special travel prize. She is SPINEXPO’s head of creative development and runs a highly successful knitwear design studio. She has worked for leading companies including Arcadia and American Eagle Outfitters. Plus following her graduation from Winchester School of Art she took part in the Texprint programme herself in 1989. We find out from Sophie how Texprint helped her career; the value of supporting the next generation of designers; plus some tips for new graduates:

Texprint: What was it like taking part in the programme and what did you gain from it?

Sophie Steller: It was a very rewarding experience to have the opportunity to show my work again after I had graduated; it gave me something to aim for after I had left college. I picked up several contacts that lead to freelance work and a job opportunity so it was a very successful outcome for me. It gave me a boost and more confidence in what I was doing. I also received very good advice from the Texprint selection panel.

Why should industry be supporting the next generation of textile designers?

We have such a strong textile heritage in the UK, one of the best in the world and our design training is truly unique. For industry to survive internationally it needs innovators and new creative designers to move the boundaries and move us to the next level. UK-trained textile designers are some of the main key contributors to where the textile industry is going – it is vital this level of training is maintained.

What advice would you give someone graduating this year?

I think be as diverse and open minded as possible. Get started, it is much easier to get a job once in a job rather than waiting for the perfect opportunity. My first job which wasn't ideal but it led me quickly to my next at Arcadia which I loved and where I learnt so much. Your career spans a long time and we are constantly learning, the first challenge will lead you to the next.

What advice do you have for someone chosen to take part in Texprint this year?

Understand who you are and what you want to market yourself as, and then make sure you have the breadth of work to express that to people looking at your portfolio.

What aspect of your work today do you enjoy most?

Working with new ideas constantly, helping clients reach their goals and take their brands forward. I also love working with my team of designers as it allows me to be more creative and see more new ideas than I ever could have hoped.

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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