I've finally decided to put up a FAQ page because I have gotten quite a few emails asking me for:
1. Career change advice
2. Business advice
3. Opinions and details of Kadomay Dressmaking and Design Centre, and
4. Raffles Design Institute
I've made a point to reply each and every one of these emails, and found that most of the questions raised are more or less the same. So, better I create an FAQ page. Here goes:
I'm quite happy to share if you're asking me for my views, experience, opinions. But please do your homework too! Some questions that you have can be easily answered by checking on the internet, or picking up the phone and making a few calls. If you're interested enough, you'll make the effort. ================================================================
Q: I am thinking of whether to sign up for the 9 months full time fashion design course conducted that you had been through. I was thinking if I should go for the full time course before I hit 30years old and have family. Hope you can give me some advice.
Q: I have a keen interest in fashion like you. I intend to quit my current job of 6 years to pursue fashion studies. I have no knowledge of dressmaking and sewing. What advice do you have for me?
A: If you have already made the decision to switch careers and go for further education, congratulations! But if you are asking me what I think you should do - I cannot help you decide if you should make the switch.
Each person has different appetite for risk, and has his/her own different personal circumstances and means. You should consider these factors when making your decision.
Here's are some of the questions I asked myself when I made mine: (at that point I had been working for 7 years)
+ Do you truly have a passion for fashion or are you just trying to get away from a job you don't enjoy?
+ Is your interest in fashion sustainable, and are you committed to seeing it through despite the sacrifices and opportunity costs involved?
+How much do you know about fashion design - have you done your research on what kind of education it entails, how much it will cost you, what the industry (that you will eventually be in) is like? If you haven't, how do you know you'll like it?
+ Is your family supportive of your decision? They may need to support you financially once you give up your job
+ Will you (or your close ones) be able to support yourself financially while you are studying? Your source of income will stop and you need to pay for your course fees.
+Do you have a plan for what you will do once your course ends? I knew I wanted to start a business because I needed to generate income after going without for close to a year and a half.
+ Also think about the opportunity cost of being away from your career for the duration of the course that you are planning on taking. You will definitely lag behind your peers in terms of career development if you do decide to return to your job after studying (let's say if the fashion route does not materialise for you, in the worst case scenario). Are you prepared for this?
+ Lastly, I feel that life is too short and I would rather try than not try at all.
Q: I want to set up an online shop selling XYZ. I have not registered a company. I don’t have a business plan, suppliers, partners or prototype yet. But I hope to have the shop up and running in 6 months’ to 1 year’s time. I'm emailing you because I need your advice. Any pitfalls I should avoid on this journey? Would you recommend a good web hoster, domain name register, ePayment / Credit Card payment company / shipping or delivery company? What about trademarks or patents and inventory control? What about customer service? What SSIC (Singapore Standard Industrial Classification ) code do I use?
A: If you plan to be an entrepreneur, please do your research. That's what entrepreneurs do. I did a lot of my research over the web, where information is free and readily available. You are the one in charge - you know your business best, so you're in the best position to decide what solutions will work for it.
The SSIC code is something that you need when registering a business. It's a categorisation of the type of business one runs. I can't help you choose this!!! This depends on the nature of your business and again, only you know best. If you have difficulty with the SSIC, you should approach the folks at bizfile. gov. sg to explain what you plan on doing and see if they can advise you.
My 2 cents worth about entrepreneurship in general:
Most importantly, whatever you choose to do, it should be something you truly love and are passionate about. It takes a lot of commitment to create and sustain a business, so you need to have an overwhelming desire to want to make it happen, no matter what. Many people start of with many ideas and enthusiasm, but give up for whatever reasons along the way.
To build this commitment, make sure that you dedicate some amount of time on a daily basis to developing your business idea. It can be doing research, checking out the competition, writing the business plan. Whatever. As long as you do something each day, that strengthens the commitment you make towards your business.
EDUCATIONAL ADVICE - DESIGN COURSES
On Kadomay Dressmaking & Fashion Design Training
60 Eu Tong Sen St #03-29 Furama Hotel Singapore 059804
Principal: Mdm Lydia Lee, Hp : 8183 4855 DID : 6221 3191 Fax: 6475 1672
** Mdm Lydia Lee is the principal of the school and her contact information is listed above. She's SUPER nice, very patient and knowledgeable and is the best person to answer your questions on Kadomay. Please contact her for any further questions. **
Q: What kind of courses are available and how much do they cost?
A: I took the sewing course. In this course, you will learn to draft patterns and sew garments from scratch. The sewing course does not cover fashion design. The school offers a separate design course, which I did not take.
Prices: $500+ for the Basic sewing course which is approximately 20 plus lessons. By the end of the course, you would have sewn several pieces of garments. I'm not sure if she still offers it, but when I was studying there, I was able to sign up for a block of 4 lessons, which enabled me to make the first garment in the syllabus, a A-line skirt.
All the classes are part time classes. If you're a foreigner thinking of coming to singapore as a full time student, this will not be possible with Kadomay because they do not take in full time foreign students (i.e. they cannot apply for a foreign student visa for you).
Q: In the sewing class, is draping included?
A: No, draping is not included in the course syllabus. However, if you are interested in learning it, you can approach Lydia who might be able to arrange something special for you.
Q: What schedules do they offer?
A: The great thing about Kadomay is the flexible schedule. Basically you go down on any of the slots that suits your schedule and at your own pace. So it all depends on you how fast or slow you want to complete the course. Lydia usually has between 6 - 8 students per class all of them at different stages. She will rotate between students and split her time teaching each one. Please refer to http://fashioncherry.com/about.php for the class slots.
Q: I've no knowledge of dressmaking and sewing, and I want to quit my job to do fashion design. Do you recommend that I should attend such school before entering a school like Raffles?
A: I would highly recommend that you go for a course at Kadomay before you decide to give up your job, since you have no experience or knowledge of sewing or dressmaking. This way, you can try and see if you really do have an enduring passion and interest for the subject. Fashion Design is not just about design solely, it is also a very technical subject, so you have to be comfortable with memorising stuff, calculations etc. Some of my coursemates dropped out of Raffles because they realised that they hated sewing and the technical aspects such as drafting, which are key subjects.
Also, from a cost perspective, Kadomay courses start from couple hundred dollars and can be done part time. A course at Raffles is in the tens of thousands and is full time.
Q: I'm a guy who's interested in sewing. Are there any guys attending Kadomay?
A: Yes! There are guys who attend, but the number is significantly less than the ladies!
On Raffles Design Institute
99 Beach Road, Singapore 189701, Tel: (65) 63385288, Fax: (65) 63380306
Q: I saw that you went to Raffles Design for a 9-months course. I went to the website and noticed that they offered a full-time 3 year course. Was the course you took full-time/part-time? And is it a condensed version of the full-time course that is currently offered?
A:The fashion design course listed on Raffles Design's website is the Degree programme, which is 3 years. There is also the Diploma in Fashion Design which is a 2 year programme. I took the full time Certificate in Fashion Design, which is 9 months long. The course coverage is similar. I share the same classes as the diploma students - just that I stopped after 9 months and they continued for 2 years. If they want to progress to take a degree, they do an additional year's work. Just call the school and ask them for the details.
Q: What kind of skills would you need to get into the course? I really do hope that drawing skills is not a pre-requsite because I can't draw to save my life!
A: There are no prerequisites for the Fashion Design course besides 6 O levels or something like that (check with the school). I don't think that should be a problem. No prerequisite in drawing. I can't draw well either. Although you will definitely have to learn to draw in the course of your study - the teachers will make you draw ALOT! As long as you practise, you can definitely improve and meet the required standard.
Q: How does the Raffles Design Institute course differ from the Kadomay course?
A: Kadomay is part time and students who go there pick up dressmaking as a hobby, and it's less stressful - there's no teaching on design, just drafting and sewing. Raffles Design prepares you for the industry with a very intensive course that emphasises technical skills. It's very structured, and the classes cover design, drawing, textile industry standards, sewing, drafting, etc. It's very, very different. There's also the course fees - Kadomay will cost you a few thousand dollars (to complete all levels). A course at Raffles is in the tens of thousands.
My 2cents on fashion design education in Singapore:
Again, I cannot emphasise how important it is to research all your options before you decide on any particular school. You're going to be spending a substantial sum of money investing in your education so you do your job and find out more before you make a decision. I spent time going through the various school websites, visiting the schools, speaking to their education counsellors and finding out what they had to offer before I made my decision. My primary reason for chosing Raffles Design was that it had the shortest course which was what I wanted. Each person has his own specific priorities and interests with education, so it's best to do more research and see which one fits your needs best.
For example, if cost is a consideration, Raffles Design is a private school so there are no government subsidies available to its students. I believe there are substantial subsidies for local students at NAFA and LaSalle (if you have not studied at a govt. polytechnic or university before).
Q. Do you have any recommendations for sewing machines? Should I start getting my own sewing machine right away?
A: I use a Juki Industrial Sewing machine, and I also own an Elna domestic sewing machine. My serger/overlocker is from Pfaff. Industrial machines which are used in garment factories and fashion design schools are for serious sewers (you need lots of practice to handle them too) and costs close to $1000 for a new one. If you are sewing as a hobby, a domestic sewing machine will suffice, which you can get for below $500 at Elna. Pffaf is great, very solid (made in Germany) but substantially more expensive. If you go to Kadomay, machines are available there for students' use so you don't have to buy one for the course.