Jamie-Maree Shipton, Stylist and Creative Consultant
I am self-employed – that means I don’t work in one way. I think that this is a big advantage, given the current circumstances. I’m used to adapting on the regular: each client, magazine, brief, requires something different. And now, I have another different scenario to approach. It’s not always people coming to me, I’m also approaching people and chasing things I want.
Commercial work is the main source of income, for most creatives that’s the hard truth. It’s not always the creatively satisfying jobs that bring in the paychecks; there is often a taboo even talking about them. I get a lot of creative consulting work, which is convenient as my name rarely has to be visible on these, so I can retain my anonymity when I feel so inclined, and my own aesthetic and signature isn’t compromised.
I’m grateful that COVID-19 has not had an impact on my ability to be financially secure. From a young age, my parents instilled in me the utmost importance for having savings in order to have financial (and mental) security. But, I’m also well into my career to be able to have this. If you’re just starting out, it’s a very hard thing to build, and I feel for those fellow creatives. This also isn’t something I want to be spending my savings on, but I definitely will not be complaining!
The government’s agenda doesn’t seem too inclined to support freelancers. Overall, the support is minimal. The best network we seem to have is each other.
I’m always going going going (a side effect of this industry), so actually it’s nice to see my creative juices getting the time they need to reset and reignite. Sometimes doing this job can become a little second nature, and this has broken that cycle. It’s not being forced but, perhaps, pushed into a new direction. Maybe even a little 360 degrees back to what it was like when you first began, where you don’t have all the access and tools you need, and you have to rely on yourself to bring a project to life – even if it’s just at home!
We can all have our days when things get hard, and we can second guess, but if you’re seriously considering changing industries then perhaps this is not where you’re supposed to be. Life can be funny like that, sometimes things have to break for you to realise you don’t want to fix them, but start something new.
The human condition is predisposed to greed, people cant help but want more for less, and industries can be built upon this mentality. The fashion industry’s treatment of interns is a prime example of this. We expect the absolute most, and yet provide the bare minimum in return. No wage, no security, no expenses, just experience. Thus it’s important that the government impose restrictions and support this workforce like any other.
What we are seeing now is clients using COVID-19 as an excuse not to pay invoices that were already overdue. I have seen one large business returning unpaid invoice emails with: “please be patient and understanding with us,” the insensitivity in this response alone is infuriating. If you’re a business and you’re worried about your survival, think how the individual self-employed people feel, knowing that you hold their survival in their hands.
If you’re working, it should be giving you a livelihood, not costing you one. So I would love to see the infrastructure and law change to support this within the fashion industry, especially for the large freelance workforce that bolsters it.