Job interview tips with Creative Talent Manager Laura Allcott

This week is Graduate Fashion Week, showcasing the best of the UK’s up and coming creative talent. There are hundreds of different career pathways for fashion design graduates, and hundreds more for young creatives with textiles, communication and fashion buying degrees.

Laura Allcott, Creative Talent Manager at Pentland Brands, spoke to Graduate Fashion Week about how taking on positions outside of fashion helped her develop transferrable skills. Here, she shares her day-to-day responsibilities at Pentland Brands, and her no-nonsense advice for any creative preparing for for job interviews.

Could you tell us a bit more about your title and role?

I’m a Creative Talent Manager at Pentland Brands. My role is to promote and bring together Pentland’s Creative Talent Community. 

I work with universities and organisations like Graduate Fashion Week to support emerging designers and add fresh new talent to our business through our Pentland Design Pool. Our Design Pool is made up some of the UK’s best design graduates who are contracted to work at Pentland Brands. Alongside managing talented graduates, I work across all of Pentland’s brands and sites to make sure our working environments are to the highest standards.

What does a normal day look like for you and your team?

No day is the same – it really depends on the project, but that’s half the fun!

My main responsibility is managing our Design Pool of graduate designers. Pentland Brands started a graduate Design Pool over ten years ago and we continue to select some of the best junior designers to join our business at events like GFW, New Designers and through university relationships.

My job is to support the new graduates and facilitate the work they’re briefed to carry out by the brands. Everything Design Pool graduates work on is used in the business and has live deadlines so there’s lots to do!

The Creative Talent Team is the front door for all things creative that come into Pentland Brands, so we never know what project might be next. For example, last summer we designed and installed a Berghaus ‘Time To Get Out’ exhibition at the London Design Biennale which took place in Somerset House. Over 35,000 people visited across three weeks which is real bucket list stuff!

How did you get into creative talent management?

Thanks to the belief of my boss, Katie Greenyer – Creative Talent & Network Director at Pentland Brands, who is also a GFW mentor.

Katie is someone that believes in people and provides every opportunity to progress. When the job came up, she gave me one of her trademark smiles, raised an eyebrow and said “I’ve had an idea… I think you would be great in this role!” Flattered, I instantly accepted, and it’s been a creative rollercoaster ever since.

I love what we do and the designers we support, so it really is job satisfaction at its best.H

What do you look for when finding a graduate for your talent pool? 

A good attitude, someone that shows initiative with a creative spark and energy.

We want new, fresh ideas coming from passionate, creative people who think outside the box and speak up.

Work ethic is essential. Being part of our Design Pool is a fantastic opportunity and I want to work with people that will soak up everything and make the most of every brief and opportunity to develop their talent.

Are there any techniques or methods that you’ve used throughout your career, that have helped you?

I don’t think I always had the confidence and belief in myself to know exactly where I wanted to be. However, in every role I’ve always tried to work hard, be helpful and communicate well. I haven’t had any expectations and I just wanted to do my best.

Five top tips for under-graduates and post-graduates?

  1. Don’t wear a suit to creative interviews, even if your mum insists. Be you! 
  2. Show your working – whether it’s sketchbooks, research or drawings, we want to see how you got to the finished idea. Ensure this is included in your portfolio, even if you scan sketchbook pages in.
  3. Keep yourself up to date with exhibitions, designer blogs and what’s going on in the industry. Stay inspired!
  4. Be confident when presenting your work. Don’t start with negatives and be kind to yourself. Before an interview, think of four positive points you want to include.
  5. Be prepared. Check the travel route to your interview, leave plenty of time to get there and aim to be 20 minutes early. Bring your laptop and make sure you’re ready to present your sketchbooks and anything else you can use to illustrate your talent. Breathe and smile. You might not be right for the role you interviewed for but you never know what could be coming up so always try to make a lasting impression.

You can read more from Graduate Fashion Week here.