Earlier this year , I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah-Hayley Owen , a successful freelance journalist who is from the Cotswolds and now resides in the thriving Fashion Capital that is London. Sarah-Hayley takes the role of Fashion Consultant for Cheltenham Fashion Week, providing knowledge and experience of the industry that have already been very beneficial to CFW and will continue to be as we approach our Fashion Week next September. However, this is not the path that she originally carved for herself.
Above: Sarah–Hayley (and her gorgeous MAC lipstick colour!)
As a child Sarah Hayley’s main passion was singing. She trained as a professional Soprano with full intentions of pursuing a career in Music. However when realising her dream of attending a Conservatoire couldn’t start for a decade, in order to protect her voice, fashion and design took centre stage. Unfortunately during her A-Levels Sarah-Hayley was diagnosed with Glandular Fever which forced her to take over six months out of education and join a new school, completing her A-levels with a year group two years younger. Sarah-Hayley’s tenacious character lead her to complete A-levels in English, Art, Music, Media Studies and Textiles, a year after the her peers, receiving fantastic results which earned her a spot at City and Guilds of London Art School.
At City and Guilds Sarah-Hayley undertook a Foundation Degree in Art and Design. She then proceeded to study Fashion Womenswear with Textiles at the London College of Fashion, an unusual choice of degree for someone looking to work in journalism and the media. Sarah Hayley explains her choice by saying that she wanted to experience and gain knowledge of the true side of Fashion Design. Understanding the amount of effort that is put in to producing a high quality garment was something that was rarely portrayed in the media, until Sarah Hayley emerged with her innovative and unique style of journalism.
During her A Levels and at Uni, Sarah Hayley interned for a myriad of different newspapers and magazines, gaining a breadth of experience and expertise that many people of her age would not be able to comprehend. After graduating, her need to learn propelled her to London College of Communication, where she embarked on a Masters Degree in Print and Online Journalism. It was her time on this course that made Sarah-Hayley realise her desire to become a freelance journalist, and as a consequence, Sarah Hayley Freelance was formed. Providing a variety of services, that include Research and copy, Copywriting, Styling, Personal Shopping, Freelance PR, Imagery and Graphics, and Social Networking and Consultancy; Sarah Hayley Freelance has been a huge success, and the website boasts hits of over 3500 a day.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Sarah-Hayley, a transcription of which can be seen below:
1. How hard was it to adjust to a different career path after your illness?
It wasn’t difficult to adjust as I seemed to flow into my career. When I found out my training to be a Classical/Opera Singer would be put on hold for ten years I thought it would be useful to carve a career in something different as a fall-back plan, especially as performing is so competitive and many friends who were already in the industry were in and out of work every couple of months. When I became ill and moved schools, I found an increased love of art and design and realised I always wanted to be creative. Singing will always be something I love to do but fashion is my life. Overall I think the hardest part of the experience was firstly when I was ill and not able to be at school and then watching my friends leave for University while I was still at school.
2. Are you pleased with your choice of university or is there anywhere else you would have liked to go?
When I researched Universities and colleges, for my Art and Design Foundation, City and Guilds instantly jumped out. City and Guilds is a private Art College with similar qualities to my school, Kings. The intake for the year was smaller than the larger Universities and because of this I knew I would gain more tuition.
For my degree I looked towards the colleges that make up University of the Arts London. Both with renowned reputations in the fashion world the choice was between Central Saint Martin’s and London College of Fashion, I chose LCF because it is a dedicated Fashion college. I loved my time there and still miss it now; thankfully I still get to visit regularly.
3. What are the main differences between working for a newspaper or magazine and which of these inspired you to move in to freelance journalism?
If you are working in the Fashion department of a newspaper, the deadlines are up to the minute. Although elements of shoots and pages are planned ahead, newspapers have a priority on imminent fashion news. When you work for a magazine, the print deadlines are five to six months ahead, for example the next issue, December, would have been planned from June and sent to print late July.
My freelance plan was decided during the last stage of my degree and first year of my Masters. I have varied interests and don’t want to single any of them out. I enjoy styling, planning layouts and creating artwork for magazines as well as my love for writing. Being freelance allows me to participate in all of them and also work for lots of different titles.
4. What is your favourite part of working in the industry?
There are so many, but firstly it is the people! Although fashion has a reputation of being fierce – it’s not and doesn’t need to be. In this job I am inspired every day, whether by a designer, brand, someone working in the press department of a company or from a reader who has contacted me about an article I have written. Without all of these people I simply wouldn’t have a job!
Secondly, it’s Fashion Weeks; I feel so lucky to have a job where I get to travel and witness the excitement of a show. Sometimes I do pinch myself to believe it’s true!
5. What are the downsides of working in the industry?
Because I am freelance and my company operates on many different levels there is a huge amount of pressure to complete work to a multitude of deadlines. The hours can be from early morning to very late evening.
6. How hard was it to get in to London Fashion Week and what propelled you to keep trying?
London Fashion Week is a professional industry only event for press, sometimes bloggers and buyers. The press/bloggers report on the shows and buyers from all over the world attend to place orders for prestigious department stores and independent boutiques. If you work in these fields, I wouldn’t say it is difficult to attend.
7. What advice do you have for someone who is interested in working in the Fashion industry?
There are many different jobs working in the fashion industry. Be sure to finish your education, do your research on the career you want and don’t give up.
8. Are there any particular skills, qualifications or experiences that an employer looks for in a potential fashion journalist?
I wouldn’t say there is a preferred entry level as there are many different ways to enter the industry, whether like me from interning and completing a Foundation, Degree and Masters or whether you are self-taught, if you know your subject and have limitless determination I think everyone can succeed. I am so thankful I did a design degree, not only did I learn how to make clothes but also accessories, the business side of fashion and computer technology. Where skills are concerned it is better if you are organised and can time manage. I experience around 25 appointments a week with approximately 100 deadlines each month, my diary is my lifesaver.
9. Do you have any tips on landing an internship?
Never give up and always be polite. Plan your internship during a school/college holiday, at least 2 months ahead. If you don’t hear back from an email, write, if you don’t receive a letter, phone them. Persistence is the key.
10. What provoked you to become a stylist as well as a journalist, and what advice do you have for those who would like to get in to styling but don’t know how?
I have always worked as a stylist and found that both jobs went hand in hand. Internships in fashion departments will help you on the styling path; mention to the Fashion Director what you are most interested in when applying.
11. Who in the industry, whether a big name or someone lesser known, inspires you the most?
There are a multitude of inspiring people in my life. My fashion icon is Grace Kelly, her elegance and poise is unique. I admire Coco Chanel’s determination and vision immensely and I am also inspired by the incredible V&A Museum.
12. Are there any other areas of theindustry that you would like to expand in to in the future?
There are lots of exciting plans for the future but for now I am concentrating on Sarah-Hayley Freelance.
Above : A screenshot from Sarah Hayley’s impressive website.
With her innovative nature and charismatic personality, we are sure that Sarah Hayley will continue to thrive as a freelance journalist and stylist. Her knowledge of the industry will be of great use to CFW and I hope this article has inspired or educated you in some way!
In the coming months I look forward to writing about more inspirational people.
If you would like to learn more about Sarah-Hayley , or are interested in utilising one of her many services, either :
Visit her website : http://www.sarahhayleyfreelance.com/
Follow her on twitter : https://twitter.com/#!/xSarahHayleyx
Or Like the Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/SarahHayleyFL
Peace , Love and Louboutin’s
Teen Fashion Ambassador