Ella Blackwell

Fashion Designer

Having worked in women’s fashion for over a decade; Ella has worked in garment design, based in London, Amsterdam as well as travelling globally for development, research and production. Her current roles see her developing prints and fabric bases for the UK, Dutch and Spanish market. ‘I like to be productive with my creativity and have always wanted it be a career; following a commercial route has meant I can make a living out of my passion’.   

 

Ella has found it exciting channelling her creativity into Interiors when designing and building her own self-build house, with her family, in Kent.  

 

I was thrilled to be asked to work with a Womens charity, teaching two young women to learn fashion design and making skills. I was employed to bring the team together, which including two older volunteers from the community, build fashion skills, encourage confidence and empower the young apprentices with self-belief. The five of us stay in touch; we bridged the age and diversity gaps we arrived with.  

What made you want to go into your career path? 

 

As a young child I had an insatiable appetite for clothing; this eventually materialised into a degree in fashion and career in Women’s-Wear design.  

Did you always think you’d go into this career? How does it compare to how you thought it would be? 

Yes, I always wanted to be a dancer or a fashion designer. So far, I haven’t been disappointed, my career hasn’t felt like work. I often joke that I basically get paid to draw pictures! 

 
How was life at school?

My village primary school was small and nurturing, however I found secondary school difficult as I felt different. I found ‘my tribe’ at A-Level college and was able to be myself again, with confidence. 

How did you get into your career? 

I took 3 creative A-Levels and then went onto Art Foundation, in Brighton and then took a degree in Womens Wear design at Kingston University. I worked holidays, evenings and weekends, waitressing, to pay for university. I also managed to procure some work experience in Fashion houses during and after my degree. There's a lot of competition when working in the arts and you need to be keen, get experience in the industry and be prepared to work hard, from the bottom. 


What do you enjoy most about it?

I generally get to be creative every day and work collaboratively with a talented and diverse team, most of who aren't creatives but work in production, sales and logistics. I get to learn all the time.   


What are your ambitions?

In some ways I have met them but it would be ‘the-icing-on-the-cake’ to share my creativity and encourage others to believe they really can make a living out of their passion. I really enjoy the company and perspective of young-adults - this would be who I’d like to share my passion and knowledge with. 


 
Tell us a fun story about your work  

I once designed a shirt for a UK women's high-street label. It sold particularly well and the order was repeated several times. I knew there were 10’s of thousands of women out there that owned this shirt, however I didn’t see it once, until 5 years later, in India, on a man driving our taxi. 

To learn more about this mentor, and about mentoring and opportunities, please contact us at info@thesixteen.org.