Celebrating International Women's Day with Bella Towse
As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, we spoke to illustrator and Hatcham College alumnae Bella Towse about her experiences in the design industry and as a woman.
What did you do after leaving Hatcham College?
I did a BA (Hons) degree in Fashion Design with Marketing at Central St. Martins. As part of my degree I had a work placement year at Alexander McQueen design studio and a graphic design agency, Design Bridge, in London. I also went to NYC to work in the photographer, Platon's, studio and the Paul Smith press office. While I was at college, I worked part-time at London College of Fashion as well as in events. After that, I was offered a junior role at a graphic design studio and loved it so much that I stayed in the industry. It has been 10 years now! And throughout all of this time I've been a freelance Illustrator too working for clients like Taylor Swift, Jamie Oliver and Havana Club Rum. I now have my own small-biz selling my own range of illustrated products via Etsy.
Was there a particular teacher who inspired you?
My backbone had to be Mr Farrow who was our head of form for the whole 7 years I was at Hatcham College - I think he became a principal! He was always good fun and very supportive.
What piece of advice about their future would you give to a pupil?
I've heard it time and time again that the encouragement of a single teacher can really nurture your passion for a subject, but I also strongly believe that even if a teacher isn't especially encouraging of your prospects in an industry that doesn't mean you can't excel in it. Your career is yours to make and passion can get you a long way. Be prepared to forge your own path as you might find that amazing mentor further down your career path. I found mine after I graduated college!
What does the theme #ChoosetoChallenge mean to you?
Being in the creative industries, for me, where I choose to challenge the status quo to inspire my agencies designers’ to make the most creative and interesting work for the world and for our clients to be brave with the design route they choose from unexpected new product innovation all the way through to making bold moves in sustainability.
What do you think are the most important issues for young women to challenge?
Recognition and to be valued. A lot of 'women's work' in life and the workplace goes unnoticed – COVID-19 has put women in the workplace globally back 32 years so we've got a long journey ahead to get that back and excel again. I'm lucky that I work in an agency that has a great ratio of men to women and many men around me respect my opinion. Although I am surrounded by strong female colleagues, I know the design industry as a whole is still very male-dominated.
If you could describe yourself in 3 words what would they be?
Open. Eccentric. Cheeky.