Friday Interview with Liz Rodgers
Freelance childrenswear designer, Liz Rodgers, talks fashion, the Far East and parenting three children.
Working from a cosy office in her lovingly refurbished 1930s home, Liz Rodgers exerts an impressive influence over children’s fashion trends, from babies and toddlers to tweens and teens. With 20 years’ experience working in the fashion industry in Hong Kong and the U.K, Liz now lives and works in the North East, creating in-demand designs for global clothing brands.
Lots of people dream about working in fashion but not many people make it. What was your route into the industry and how did you find your niche as a childrenswear designer?
I was always very arty at school, and knew I wanted to pursue a career in a creative field, but wasn’t really sure what exactly. Although I was always interested in fashion, I never thought of myself as the ‘fashion type’ as I’ve never really been interested in haute couture high-end fashion.
After completing a degree at the University of Northumbria studying Three-Dimensional Design, I took a City and Guilds course in fashion. This gave me a really broad understanding of the fashion industry from design, to pattern-cutting and grading, right through to production techniques.
After initially designing women’s fashion for high street brands, I got the opportunity to work for a design bureau specialising in childrenswear. This was a revelation, and was so much more fun than designing ladieswear that I never looked back!
And what do you actually do on a day-to-day basis? Is it all fashion shows and fabulousness like we see in films?
The great thing about being a fashion designer is the opportunity to travel. Being paid to explore all the major international fashion cities, from New York, to Paris and Tokyo to search for the next big fashion trends is a real privilege, and always a delight.
However, this is something I do less and less now due to having the responsibly of being a mum and wanting to be there for my kids. My day-to-day work schedule is far from glamorous!
After the general bedlam of trying to get three kids to school on time, I usually start the working day with a coffee and a sigh of relief! Having been freelance for about 15 years now, I generally have a few projects on the go, and so there’s a lot of time spent in front of my computer.
My initial ideas can come from anywhere and anything. Sometimes an old photo can inspire a whole range, or something I’ve heard on the radio, or just a random thought I’ve had whilst out walking my dog.
From there, I’ll create mood boards and colours palettes, and then onto garment, print and graphic design. Once I get an idea in my head, there’s no stopping me, and I’ll quite often work well into the night without even realising the time.
You spent a lot of time working in Hong Kong. Tyne and Wear is a far cry from the Far East. What brought you back to the UK?
Working in Hong Kong was amazing. I loved the fast pace of life and the fact that is was so different to the UK, but eventually, the pull of home was too much. After falling head over heels in love with my partner, who is originally from Hong Kong but lived in the North East, I was destined to return.
Your designs look so familiar. I feel like I’ve got some of these in my daughter’s wardrobe already! Presumably, your designs are on hangers in all the big high street stores?
It’s quite possible you do! I freelance for a number of high street brands, including Next, Marks and Spencer, George etc. It’s always a real thrill when you spot one of your own designs whilst you’re out and about.
I’m guessing that being a mum has inspired a lot of your work over the years. How do you manage motherhood alongside such a successful freelance career?
To be honest, it can be tricky! Over the last 6 months, trying to home school three young children, whilst trying to keep on top of work has been tough. Teaching by day, and working by night has resulted in a sharp rise in my coffee intake!
But on the flipside, I think having kids myself means I have the ability to see the process from both a fashion designer’s point of view as well as a mum, which gives me a much clearer insight as to what the customer is looking for.
Plus my kids keep me sane and often come up with great ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of myself.
Help HLN readers get ahead of the game… What are your predictions for the next big trends in kidswear?
I think with what kids, (and the world in general) has been though over the last 6 months, we’re going to see an influx of positivity, bright colours, and lots of fun for children’s clothes. Encouraging and uplifting slogans empowering self-confidence, and more of an inclusive world feel are all important messages that are needed right now, and the feeling that we’re all in this together is really key. So expect to see lots of ‘bright happy fashion’!
Libby Marks is a freelance content writer, copywriter and marketing consultant based in Newcastle. Libby works with busy marketers and business owners, helping them attract and engage customers with high-quality written content. She specialises in writing search-optimised blog posts, articles, ebooks and guides, helping websites gain visibility and visitors: www.writeontyne.com