Ah, redundancy. We meet again.
That was me last Autumn when I found myself in a familiar situation – my career, my identity, my lifestyle cut short once again by decisions out of my control, by budgets that couldn’t support me and by a misguided big wig who didn’t believe I could cut it. Yes, life threw me another redundancy sentence, but this time I embraced it, left my former job within a week and didn’t look back – only now to reflect and share what I learned.
The first time I was made redundant, I was one of fifty. We were a small, struggling start up and the owner decided to close up shop so everyone in the company was getting let go. That was scary. I didn’t know how to navigate the world without a job. For someone who likes to – has to be in control, not knowing what was next was nerve-wracking. But I did eventually find another job, the perfect job. It was for a cool, modern fashion brand and it was my dream role, working on editorial, art directing photoshoots, and when it finally became available, I leapt and poured my heart into every interview and assignment they threw at me and I got the offer!
The second time I was made redundant in my career, I had no fear. I had gone through the seven stages and came out the other end, so I knew in my bones that I would come out the other end again. I welcomed this redundancy with open arms, it was the break I needed but was too scared to take on my own. You see, my dream job had turned out to be a nightmare. I was indifferent with some of my co-workers, emotionally drained, wracked with anxiety, drowning in unachievable expectations. When I left, the first thing I did was finally switch off.
Invest in yourself.
I didn’t look for a new job straight away, I needed to nourish myself again and patch up my soul. It was still Summer so I spent a month soaking up rays in the park, reading my favourite magazines that I never had time to read, spending long sessions at the gym working out. I simply recalibrated. Sometimes what we all need is a moment, a breath and a chance to acknowledge ourselves. One of the most important lessons that I learned after being made redundant was the realisation that I had let my work make me miserable, I allowed it to consume my life and my weekends, I wore my despair and anxiety on my face, in my expressions. I learned never to do that again.
Be free and freelance.
I went freelance for 9 months mainly as a photoshoot stylist and was on the books at a commercial fashion studio. It had some bittersweet moments. On some days, I found myself dressing mannequins for eCommerce product shoots, when I used to be the one managing the person who dressed the mannequins for eCommerce product shoots. It truly felt like a step down, however, my experience directing shoots and working with stylists for a number of years meant that I tackled my quota with speed, I was comfortable in a set environment and I knew the styling tricks to get the best shot. All of this soon led me to plum shoots and being requested by photographers to work with them. I got sent to Germany for shoots, I got sent to Leicester to work with a big client – it was all great experience and put my transferrable skills to great use. Being free as a freelancer also meant that I had the luxury of going back home for seven weeks to New York City and to take up an online graphic design course on the days I wasn’t working. Stepping outside the 9-to-5 full time bubble helped me see there’s so much more out there if you’re willing to seek it and try it out.
Take a leap of faith.
I worked in the fashion industry for 8 years and it hadn’t dawned on me that I didn’t have to keep looking within this industry for work. In my down time, I realised a few things. I didn’t particularly like the irrelevant dramas over a dress, the constant competition with other fashion brands, or the drop-everything-we-must-launch-20%-off-on-the-web-right-now-we-are-down-10%-vs-last-week drill. I also shuddered when I thought of stepping into yet another fashion brand’s editorial team. I realised, I was done.
Jump to present time and I still work in creative, but now I look after creative branding for an events company. The role calls on my creative eye, my design skills, my project management skills, my presentation skills, but without the soul-crushing pressure that I thought was part and parcel of a great day’s work, but really was just the characteristics of your average fashion company.
There’s a saying that goes, “You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be”, and I have no regrets of where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, what I’ve gone through as it all led me to where I am now, and I’m happier than ever. In the time I was let go at my last full time role, I’ve made new friends through freelancing, I developed my technical design skills and I was able to spend quality time in New York with my family.
Redundancy can be life changing and it can be the best thing that happens to you. The biggest lesson from redundancy is that you learn to be resilient. Shine on.