LCI Melbourne alumni Hannah Maybury

“It’s really important for me to remember that doing my best in the time frame I have is actually good enough.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that super impressive job? While the internet and social media may make us believe that our ideal job is just a pipe dream, believe it or not, the people who have these jobs were once in the same position, fantasizing about someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and great work events lies a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learned and what skills have proven invaluable in taking them from daydreaming about success to actually reaching the top of their industry?

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Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are making it big in their fields, about how they got their awesome jobs, exploring the highs and lows, the failures and the wins, and most importantly, the knowledge, the advice and the practical tips they have collected along the way.

This week we speak to Hannah Maybury, LCI Melbourne alumni, designer, filmmaker and illustrator. A self-taught seamstress and cinephile, Hannah dreamed of studying fashion but was nervous about being locked into a style. This led her to LCI Melbourne, where she graduated in December 2022 with a Bachelor of Design Arts (Fashion and Costume).

For Hannah, LCI Melbourne offered fashion and costuming, in addition to traditional and industry standard pattern making training and practices. Since graduating, she has taken on a range of different projects and clients, learning the all-important lessons about work-life balance and self-compassion. Read on to hear about her career so far.

What do you do and what is your official job title?

I’ll be honest: it varies from project to project and client to client, but generally I’m a freelance designer. This can be anything from fashion illustrations to fully custom clothing design and construction.

Take us back to when you first started. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start with an internship/entry-level role and move up the ladder? Tell us the story.

After high school, I immediately started my dream study of film and TV and specialized in making documentaries, with a minor in costume design. It wasn’t until three years later that I decided to hone my design skills.

The film industry in general is very competitive…let alone in Australia where it is not that well funded. Most jobs are not listed on the normal websites (if at all) and the pandemic has closed out many opportunities for me.

Since completing my first training, I have mainly worked as a costume designer for independent projects. I taught myself to sew in my teens using all the tools I had access to, but I always felt like there was some assumed knowledge in these tutorials that kept me from fully understanding pattern making and design.

Late one night during lockdown in Melbourne, I saw an advertisement for LCI Melbourne that intrigued me. I had considered studying fashion after my first course, but couldn’t find a program that suited me at the time. The other universities seemed so strict and I was nervous about being pigeonholed into a certain style or career.

I was excited that LCI Melbourne offered fashion and costuming alongside traditional and industry standard pattern making training and practices. The skills I learned at LCI Melbourne have helped enhance my resume and ability to bring designs to life from scratch, as well as interpret customer requests to create the clothing or costumes of their dreams.

What challenges/obstacles have you faced to get where you are today? Can you tell us one in particular?

The main challenge I have faced in all my endeavors is feeling good enough or worthy enough for these opportunities. I put my heart and soul into all my work because without it I feel like I don’t deserve it. But that has led to some pretty tough times, making my work-life balance extremely unhealthy.

I am my own worst critic. I have pushed myself so hard in the past – to the point of feeling unwell… Often all I can remember is the stress of the job, rather than my achievements. This is because I hold myself to standards that no one can honestly achieve.

What do you want people to know about your industry/role?

Currently I do everything myself… There are so many small details that go into the production of even one garment… people often only see the final result.

When I bring a client’s vision to life, this includes every step, including creating patterns, purchasing fabric and hardware samples, creating mock-ups and fittings, liaising, and making changes as requested (as well as) all the paperwork and invoices.

I do all of this while working a full-time job in retail so I can afford my studio and continue doing what I love. Last year, when I was working full-time as a designer and in retail, I was working 12- to 18-hour days.

What is the best thing about your role?

I really enjoy creating something special together with customers. It’s amazing what ideas people have when they’re not limited by preconceptions about pattern making or fashion industry standards. It is a big challenge for me to convert this into something wearable.

What would surprise people about your role?

I think people would be surprised at how flexible I am when it comes to the types of projects and designs I work on. They may see the work I create for my label and think I’ll fit them into that aesthetic, but I come from a background of collaborative environments and designing costumes for films with a variety of characters, ages and styles. I just want to create. Just because I have the skills doesn’t mean I always have the best ideas. I like it when people bring me something different or new to keep me on my toes.

What skills have served you well in your industry?

Surprisingly, my experience producing films and the associated paperwork really helped me create critical timelines and plan and coordinate photo shoots.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to one day step into a role like yours?

I’m known to be a perfectionist, and it’s very important (to me) to remember that doing my best in the time frame I have is actually good enough. It is important to get the product to the customer that he or she asked for. As your own boss you can make it as complicated or simple as you want. It’s important to communicate to customers how long you think something will take so they can have the right expectations.

How about a practical tip?

It’s okay to turn down a project or say no to something if it will sacrifice your mental health, make you overwork, or jeopardize other projects. The hustle culture is not always sustainable in the long term. I’m young and have a lot of great projects and work ahead of me – burning myself out now won’t help me achieve those goals.


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