How to become a clothing manufacturer: Ryan's story

Meet Ryan. He's 20 and is the founder of RivalKit. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"If you are passionate about your job, it won’t feel like work."

What inspired you to start up your own sportswear company?

I was the sports secretary at my university and I wasn't impressed with the sports kit or how long it took to arrive. I felt so strongly about it that I decided to start my own company and see how far I could go. I had no real interest in fashion or clothing until then.

What does your company do and what does a typical day involve for you?

We design and manufacture custom sportswear for universities, schools and other clubs. We then sell them through an e-commerce platform.

My day starts pretty early because we need to get information out to the factories for when they open. Things like product specifications, colours, sizes and designs. The rest of the day is spent doing other business admin like banking and liaising with clients.

What was your educational career path?

I’m Scottish, so I took National 5s in English, Maths, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geography and History. For my Highers, which are like A-levels, I did Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Geography. I then went on to university and studied Bio Technology.

Working in fashion is a random direction for me. It’s not something I could have predicted. I do use some of the skills from my Biology degree though. In manufacturing clothes, there are key steps that you have to go through from concept to the finished product, so every product we make is like a science experiment.

Communication is an important skill when you run your own business.

What are the main skills you use in your job?

When you are an entrepreneur, soft skills play a much bigger role. Communication is my strongest skill; I have to use phone apps for messaging a lot, send a lot of emails and make lots of phone calls.

I use time-keeping and leadership skills every day too and there’s also a project management aspect to my job so I need to be very organised.

Top tips

  • Running your own company is definitely a rollercoaster ride, but that’s what makes it fun.

  • Be passionate about what you’re doing, because if you are passionate about your job, it won’t feel like work.

  • Believe in yourself. People said that RivalKit would never do anything, then we went on to have our best year yet.

Ryan is the founder and owner of a clothing company. Working for yourself looks different for each person and each business. The salary and working hours when you own a business can vary enormously, but what's most important is you work hard and love what you do.

If you're interested in manufacturing clothes, like Ryan does, you will need skills similar to those of a garment technologist. They choose the right fabrics and designs for manufacturers to make clothes.

What to expect if you want to become a garment technologist

Garment technologist salary: from £16,000 to £30,000 per year Garment technologist working hours: 38 to 40 per week

What qualifications do you need to be a garment technologist?

Typical entry requirements: You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in Garment Technology or Fashion Design to become a garment technologist. You’ll usually need one or two A-levels (or equivalent) for a foundation degree or higher national diploma. You could start with a college course such as Level 3 Certificate in Fashion and Textiles before applying for a job as a garment technology assistant. You can find out more about working and training in garment technology through the British Fashion Council.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

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