I first met Holly back at GFW in the girls toilets. She was wetting her hair which seemed slightly odd but turns out she was modelling quite a few of the shows. Since then I’ve followed her on Instagram and have been watching her journey. I managed to interrupt her busy schedule to see where she’s at right now.
Name: Holly Symmons
Occupation: Model, Visual Merchandiser, Stylist
Tell us a bit about yourself? (Background, hobbies, interests)
“I am an absolute busy body and try not to take life too seriously. I dedicate myself to my work and trying to have as much fun as I can. My close friends and relatives say I live in ‘Hollyland‘ and I’m deffo Phoebe from Friends aha. I find interest in so many different things; I spent a lot of my time dancing, reading and drawing. I used to play drums and would spend a lot of time searching for new music and going to gigs. My parents are very musically talented and had their own band called ‘Dog Bite;’ the name came about from an actual real like experience funnily enough. I’m a fashion conscious individual and a typical girly girl with a bit of a tomboy attitude. I’ll drink a pint, go watch the rugby and even have a go at shooting zombies on the Xbox (except for the fact I’m not very good and my grenades end up going anywhere except at the horde of zombies trying to eat me).”
Have you always been into fashion?
“I was a bit of a tomboy up until the age of 16/17. I loved sports and spent most of my time at dance classes; I did Irish dancing, ballet, modern and jazz 3 or 4 times a week and was in all the after school sport teams. My interest in Fashion really developed when I started working for Monsoon at the age of 18; I wanted to understand the fashion world more and step out of my comfort zone of jeans and tee’s. I wanted to be more involved with the fashion industry so I took a temp sales assistant job at Monsoon.”
Did you go to college/uni and if so what did you study, how was the experience?
“After I completed my A-levels in: theatre studies, dance and fine art, I then went on to do an Art foundation for a year. In all honesty, I had no idea what I wanted to do but I knew I was good at drawing so I thought I would pursue a career in some form of art. At this point I was at college and wasn’t working so I just did dance, sports and worked on completing my foundation year. I then went on to apply to do a BA Honours in illustration at university; I got two unconditional offers at the two universities of my choice. However, my head said one thing and my heart said another, so I ended up taking a job at Monsoon and differed my place at uni for a year.”
How did you end up modelling at GFW? (Graduate Fashion Week) What was that experience like?
“I was creative stylist at Topshop for a few years and my work colleague studied fashion at uni. We were both creative stylists at Topshop and became really good friends. I used to give her advice and support while she was completing her final year at uni. She’s an extremely talented designer, we spent a lot of time just talking about fashion and work and she asked me to model her collection. I have a lot of tattoos and we both decided that it would be unconventional to have an art heavy, covered tattoo model walking the catwalk. Her collection is very unique and we felt that my tattoos would almost become a feature to her lace and glue collection. The whole process took months in and out of studios, rehearsals etc. The whole experience was so exciting! Going from one of the models for her portfolio work to modelling her final pieces for GFW. This exposure gave me the opportunity to model for two other designers as well so that was very exciting. It was an absolutely overwhelming experience; me and the girls I modeled next to became really good friends. We went through the whole process together from taking photos in a freezing cold car park to Walking GFW and being featured in British Vogue. BTS of the catwalk show was quite crazy. Its mad how everyone is frantically trying to change into their outfits with your appointed dresser trying to dress you whilst running over to hair and make up; also, someone will be calling your name through a crowd of models to get you to line up. This will happen while you are probably half naked, all modesty goes out the window lol; there’s no time for being a prude, it’s absolutely crazy BTS but somehow it works! It’s brilliant!”
How did you get into styling and visual merchandising?
“After deciding to decline my offer at uni and take a gamble with fashion, I worked my way up from sales assistant to full time. I then spoke to my manager and with the passion and drive I became the store window dresser which was a job I really loved. With my new role I became good friends with the area visual merchandisers who later advised me that if I wanted a career within this field it would be beneficial to have managerial experience on my CV. I worked my way up to Floor Manager, then Assistant Manager and after a few years, I then landed a position as store VM in Monsoon Stratford. Taking a slight step backwards to step forward, I worked For the company for 5 years and loved my job as it allowed me to develop my creative flare and challenged me to think outside the box. Once I had exhausted my position at Monsoon I decided I needed a new challenge and landed myself a job as a store VM in one of the Topshop Flagship stores in London. After two years and with much anticipation and determination I was offered a position as creative stylist in my Flagship Topshop store and I honestly can say I loved it.”
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into styling or visual merchandising?
“I would just say that sometimes starting from the bottom and working your way up is the best way. Once you have your foot in the door, start building work relationships and put yourself out there. Make sure you take lots of pictures; social media is a really good way to get your portfolio noticed. Take any opportunity to do free lance or unpaid work and get solid strong pictures together. Be selective what you post up and try and have your own individual theme, for example, if you use Instagram filters stick with one so that you have your own stamp on your work and post regularly at the busiest intervals.”
By Destiny Crawford-Corri