Fashion designer: Not Your Everyday Job series
Name: Joshua Roughley aka Rufflee
Job title: Head of company and designer for Rufflee Clothing Label
Time in occupation: Six months
First job: River Island sales assistant
Education: GCSEs and A Levels
Chloe: Designing clothes sounds like such a hefty, complicated role but what does it actually entail on an average working day?
Rufflee: Being both owner and designer for Rufflee, general day to day work starts with admin roles such as answering emails and arranging fashion shows and events in the morning. Later I work on designing and manufacturing my current and next season collection pieces to get them ready for shows, buyers and customers. By late afternoon I am generally taking orders and return to some more admin roles like setting up my studio for the next working day, and despatching orders. I try to stop working around 6pm but often find myself designing late into the night because I just love creating new and exciting pieces.
Chloe: If that was me I’d just be too tempted to wear everything I made! Being such a fashion lover do you tend to indulge yourself in your work and treat yourself to a new garment every so often?
Rufflee: Of course! I really like being able to make my own clothes and so often find myself wearing my products on the street. I often get people asking me where I bought what I’m wearing too so being able to say I made it myself really helps to promote my brand. I once had someone like my clothing so much they offered to buy it off my back on the street – and I let them. Luckily, it was summer so it wasn’t too cold walking around shirtless for a while!
Chloe: That’s brilliant! I’m not too sure I could get away with that though. As I’ve said, the title of ‘designer’ is quite a big one and just seems so daunting to get into, so where did it all begin for you and your brand?
Rufflee: Well, I’ve always been creative and loved constructing things. I originally wanted to be an architect but then thought it was too long of a process for me and I didn’t want to end up building houses at the end of it. So, I booked onto a course with graphic design at college but was the last to apply and thus was deferred to a textiles class. At first I really wasn’t best pleased as I never pictured having anything to do with making clothes; I just liked wearing them. That didn’t last long though and by the end of my first week I completely loved the course and was doing really well with both modules and competitions. By sticking at it is what got me to where I am today. It’s great to create, so I love what I do.
Chloe: By the sounds of things then this isn’t something you always wanted to do, but rather fell into it. What was the next step from studying textiles to owning your own label?
Rufflee: Well, I was told that if I didn’t carry on my education to university then I wouldn’t succeed, but I’m stubborn so when someone tells me I can’t do or be something I tend to go against the grain and push to prove them wrong. First, I worked with some of the leading retail brands like Topman, Topshop, River Island and Selfridges and managed to recognise seasonal trends, what sold, what didn’t, and what fabrics worked well for certain garments. That was my university. All the while I was perfecting my skills in my own time too, so it wasn’t easy and I still face challenges but I enjoy them and love to overcome a problem.
Chloe: That sounds great. University education isn’t a necessary component to a great career, as you’re proving. Rolling back the years before your brand, and before college, what was your big childhood ambition?
Rufflee: I wanted to design rollercoasters and skyscrapers; I wanted to make things that would catch people’s eye and thrill them, so it’s ironic that I have ended up doing that with my fashion pieces. Only the materials and the scales of things have changed.
Chloe: And, to finish what piece of career advice would you give to students?
Rufflee: Never let anyone or anything distract you or dishearten you when it comes to achieving your dreams. When I was 18 I had a tattoo done that states, ‘work like you don’t need the money – love like you’ve never been hurt – dance like there’s nobody watching – live like there’s no tomorrow’, and I think that’s a really important and permanent reminder to me to enjoy life and do what I love to do. We spend over a third of our lives at work, so why waste a third of your life doing something you don’t enjoy?
Photo: photologue_np / Flickr