Fashion design or making money?

I have my heart set on majoring in fashion design but my mom says I should focus on a more stable profession. 

It’s not either/or, says our elder. You can do both!


Dear EWC

I’ve been having a tough time lately. I’ve been dreaming since I was 10 years old about going to Central Michigan University and to major in fashion design and development. i still have my heart set on doing that but when I’ve talked to my mom about it, she told me that that degree is stupid and doesn’t make any money. I’m torn between majoring in fashion or just listening to my mom and doing something else that makes more money.


Cairnie replies

I can understand you’re being torn between respecting and listening to your mom, and following your dreams. Let’s look at your decision from several angles.

You are right, and your mom is right. I say that because there are several important factors to consider when making important decisions like this one. And you’ve already started to identify them.

It is invaluable to be able to support yourself as an adult, so you do want to find a way to spend your working hours at a job/profession/hobby that can earn enough money to support you and the life you want to create for yourself. I can understand that your mom recognizes that fashion is a fickle, unpredictable profession, and she likely worries that such instability can be a source of stress and challenge. I believe that she loves you and wants a solid life for you.

At the same time, I believe that we should follow our heart’s passions whenever possible (and safely). So I’m wondering if your situation is not “either/or” but rather “yes/both.” Here’s what I’m thinking about possible options:

Is it possible to pursue a degree that leads to a job with a good salary for you, and you can pursue fashion design as an avocation? Maybe designing on the side until you may get recognized?

Is it possible to double major in design and education, with a fallback of teaching design while you pursue creating your own lines?

Is it possible to major in business, open up your own clothing store, and include some of your own designs in the store while gaining a following?

Is it possible to major in journalism and become a fashion writer? Or a fashion photographer? Or a fashion set designer? Or designing costumes for community theater?

Is it possible while in college to intern, work/study, be mentored by a fashion designer and get expert feedback about whether or not you have the talent, or to discover other fashion-related careers you would also be interested in?

What I’m suggesting is to explore ways to immerse yourself in the world of fashion while having a Plan B, that is, a way to use your talent tangentially – teaching, writing, mentoring, etc. so you can earn a salary and pursue designing fashion evenings/weekends/spare time?

The idea is to make connections, build skills and graduate from college with the ability to earn money to support yourself. How you do this, and how you spend your remaining time is up to you. I believe that it’s important to spend our adult years in ways that give our lives meaning and feel productive. There are so many ways to accomplish that. And how we earn our living can be completely separate from what we do that feels productive or makes our heart sing.

My main advice is that this decision is not either/or. Consider ways to both pursue being in the fashion world while at the same time having other options. Your day job does not have to define who you are. At the same time, it is important to be able to earn money to be independent and allow yourself to pursue your other dreams.

Good luck! Think creatively. I see many pathways for meeting your fashion goals while earning a living. I hope you do, too!

Article #: 450856

Category: Career

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