Working Abroad

Five years ago I was a Lingerie Designer for a UK based garment supplier. Every season we went through the familiar process of competitive shopping, sketching, sourcing and presenting ranges to our customers. It was seasonally chaotic which is normal in the Fashion industry but we all worked hard and did a fab job.

Despite this I knew I wasn’t pushing myself or gaining any new skills. My position in the company had stagnated and the UK economy wasn’t healthy at that time forcing the company I worked for to make redundancies. Although I had managed to escape these redundancies, I felt anything but relieved and knew I needed to re-think things.

To boost my motivation I began looking at other UK suppliers hoping that an amazing opportunity would arise and help me make a decision. I also enquired about internal transfers but nothing seemed to quench this thirst I had for learning and experiencing something different.

That summer at a music festival I was reunited with a good friend, a Fashion Designer who had moved to Shanghai for work. Her life sounded incredible, from morning swims on rooftop pools to sourcing trips at open air markets. She had a new confidence, the kind that comes with conquering the unknown. She was regularly travelling and meeting a diverse mix of people, her network was growing and she spoke with a positive career outlook. Of course my friend had taken on long hours and more responsibility but it seemed like a manageable balance. It inspired me and I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of working abroad.

On returning home from the festival I made contact with other friends that had moved abroad, I spoke to my family about my idea and with their full support I started to hatch a plan.

I made a list based on all the conversations I’d had with various people and I landed on these goals:

  • I wanted to work at a company where impending redundancy wasn’t always a major issue (difficult in the Fashion industry!)
  • I wanted to see more of the world and learn about other cultures
  • I wanted to take on more responsibility, learn new things and push myself at work
  • I wanted to build an international network
  • I wanted to work for a global organisation where I could learn about trends and consumers on a global level

All these things led to one conclusion, I definitely wanted to move abroad. I just needed to make it happen next!

Whether you are undecided on a career break, going travelling, moving to a new state or moving away from your home country the best tips I would give anyone are these:

  • Use your Network

Speak to friends/colleagues in a similar position as this helps you build a picture of what you want through the eyes of somebody you know and respect

  • Make sure important people are behind you

You will need as much support as possible so having your partner and parents behind you will give you more confidence in your decision making

  • Make a list

Make a list of things that inspire you. Are you a person that likes green space or bustling markets? Cocktails and parties or pints in the pub? Museums or rock climbing?

Next list out what gets you down. It could be commuting long distances, not seeing your kids enough, not having time to yourself? Write down everything and let your mind wander. You will be surprised at what comes out.

Somewhere in between that list of what inspires you and what gets you down could be some initial ideas, some goals and some dreams that will help keep you motivated.

I personally believe anything is possible once you have made a decision and you have a goal in your sights!

Do you have any experiences to share? Leave a comment

Rachel Higginbottom is a Freelance Fashion Designer currently living in Dusseldorf Germany. She has lived and worked abroad in the Fashion Industry for the last 5 years.

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