Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?
When I began researching fashion schools in Canada, Ryerson was always mentioned as one of the only schools that offered a degree program for fashion. I felt that not only would I get the best education but I would also have access to industry contacts. Four years of education was also a good amount of time to learn about which area of the industry I wanted to work in and grow as a designer. It was really exciting to think about Mass Exodus as prior to Ryerson I never had the opportunity to participate in a fashion show. Ultimately, I felt that Ryerson would help prepare me for my career.
Tell us a little bit more about what you do as Fur Finisher at Four Seasons Fur?
I’m a design assistant at Four Seasons Fur. I work closely with the in house designer helping him with patterns, sewing, finishing fur garments and helping with customers. I also work with my own clients to produce their designs through pattern drafting, grading, working with the fur technicians and finishing final pieces.
How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today?
The academic experience at Ryerson helped provide me with basic design skills and made me value strict deadlines. Even though I’m not in school anymore I still have deadlines that I’m required to meet and incompletes aren’t an option. I feel more prepared now because of the workload I experienced at school in conjunction with internships. Fourth year was the best example of what we were to expect when working in the fashion industry. I’m really glad I produced my collection in fourth year because it helped me push myself creatively and also forced me to become more skilled and efficient in production. I also felt my internships were really important because I learnt so much on the job that I wouldn’t have been taught in school. My internship experience at Four Seasons Fur also helped me land my current job so it was beneficial from both an academic and career standpoint.
What led to your interest in working with fur?
A few of my friends were already interning at Four Seasons Fur and were really enjoying it. I went to visit them one day to experience what they had been raving about; I started helping and then it snowballed into an internship. My interest in fur grew as I interned with Four Seasons Fur. I realized it combined skills I already had from previous work experiences but it also offered new challenges as fur was a new material to me. I was also always interested in outerwear and fur is usually featured in outerwear so I felt it was a great skill to learn.
If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about your time at Ryerson Fashion?
If could go back in time I would take the fur class as my friend Jovalene had suggested. I could have had more time and experience to design a fur garment prior to my internship. It also would have been fun to enter the fur competitions because it’s a great opportunity to learn about the fur industry and to work with fur. I should have been more open to taking new learning opportunities.
What does a day in the life of Holly Seymour look like?
I start my day by saying good morning to my coworkers and discussing with my boss what urgently needs to be done. I usually have lots of pieces that require minor alterations or repairs. Other times my job for the day is to completely close a coat from start to finish; this process usually takes a day or so to complete. Sometimes my day will be broken up by helping with customers, answering the telephone and conducting meetings with my clients.
What do you find are the most enjoyable and challenging parts of your job and working with fur in particular?
The most enjoyable part of my job is that I get to handle fur all day and that it's mostly custom work. I always feel like I’m working on something new and not producing the same garment over and over again. A challenging part about my job is that I do a lot of repairs and alterations on furs and sometimes they’re really delicate to work on. This process can be time consuming which requires a bit of patience.
Do you have an area of expertise or research you want to grow and learn about?
Most of my work experience has been with smaller companies who don’t use computer aided design in production. Since taking the CAD courses at Ryerson I haven’t utilized those skills in the workplace nor have I experienced larger scale production. I would love to have the opportunity to gain more experience in these areas.
What is your favorite part about working in the Canadian Fashion industry?
My favorite part about working in the Canadian Fashion industry is that it's small and everyone knows everyone, so to speak. It's nice to run into people who you met in school such as fellow graduates, teachers and other industry professionals. You’re able to start building important connections as a student and carry them into your career.
What advice would you give a fashion student interested in working with fur design?
My advice for a student interested in working with fur would be to start researching brands that are currently using fur in their collections. Some of the brands are doing really innovative techniques with fur that make the material really fresh and exciting. Take the fur class when it's offered and try and challenge yourself by designing and pattern drafting a fur garment. Enter the competitions for fur because it gives you the opportunity to work with the material. Internships with furriers are also beneficial and interesting because you’re able to get hands on experience. As well, if you’re able to find an old fur coat look at how it has been sewn–maybe even open up the lining and look at the interior details. It will give a great insight into the type of work that goes into a fur garment.