How I Got My Job: Emma Manley, Creative Director At Manley

At just 28, Emma Manley's brand is already stocked in Arnotts, across Ireland and abroad. We found out the secrets to her success.

Emma Manley

1. How did Manley come about?

After a year-long internship with Alexander McQueen in London, I began designing in my spare time. It was mostly just to get the creative juices going, but that quickly turned into making a capsule collection. A year later I moved the label home to Dublin to really make a go of things. Four years on, Manley’s stocked throughout Ireland and in Egypt. Not bad for a label that started in a basement flat in London, right!?

Name: Emma Manley
From: Dublin
Age: 28
Owns: Manley

Job Title: Creative director @ Manley
Studied: Foundation – Colaiste Ide; Diploma – Grafton Acadamy
Twitter: @emmamanley @manley

2. Did you always want to work in this area?

My mum was a fashion designer so I grew up surrounded by fashion and creativity. I always loved it, but didn’t see it as being a career until a little later on. In school I changed between wanting to be a chef or a special needs teacher. Then the fashion bug really caught hold of me in my teens and once it caught, it just wouldn’t let go!

The more experience that you have, the better. It all counts. Even if it’s a job you hate.

3. Did your previous experience help you?

100%. My time working as a style advisor in Topshop taught me what it is that women really want when it comes to their wardrobes. My interning days taught me about hard graft and what it takes to succeed. Every retail job I had throughout college taught me something. The more experience you have, the better. It all counts – even if it’s a job you hate.

4. What does a typical day look like in your job?

Every day’s different. Each season starts with sketching, researching and in general just getting inspired and creating a vision for the season ahead. It then quickly turns in to pattern drafting and trips to fabric houses in Milan to source that season’s fabrics. Once the collection has been sampled, it’s straight into lookbook and campaign shoots and then we’re off to London or Paris to take part in trade shows to sell, sell, sell. We’ll catch a week off – and then it starts all over again.

5. What challenges have you experienced?

Plenty, believe me! As a start-up label, every day brings new challenges. Starting off as a one-man band meant the buck stopped with me for everything, and that’s a lot of pressure to take. I was designing a collection for the following season while trying to sell this season’s collection, doing accounting, production, embellishment, PR; you name it, I had to do it. I always had a big vision for Manley, and what it would grow to become, so I went full throttle at it.

6. How have you dealt with challenges?

Dealing with challenges head on is the only way to go. You can shy away from them and pretend they’re not there, but at the end of the day, they won’t go away and they’ll only damage your business. Sometimes I don’t have the right skill set to overcome challenges, so I’ll find a person who does. There is always a way, it’s just a matter of finding it.

7. What have been some career highlights?

This year it was definitely seeing Manley launch in Arnotts. It’s something I had wanted for a long time so actually seeing the Manley womenswear line and the Manley Jewellery collection in store was a dream come true.

The key to my success has been the three Ps: Passion, patience and persistence.

8. What’s the best bit about your job?

Being my own boss, even though it’s as frightening as it is rewarding. I’m probably more tough on myself than any boss would be, but I push myself as much as I can because I want to be the best that I can be.

9. And the drawbacks?

Not being able to switch off. I’m pretty sure anyone who started their own business suffers from this – it’s part and parcel of the job really. Meditation is on my list of to-dos, maybe that will help?!

10. What’s been the key to your success?

What I like to call the three Ps. That’s passion, patience and persistence.

11. What advice would you give anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Having a fashion label really is a labour of love. You need to be head over heels about it to make it work. For me, interning was my real education. My 18 months between VPL in New York and Alexander McQueen in London taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Its on-the-ground experience, getting your hands dirty and really seeing if this is what you want. That, and being passionate about what you do, really is half the battle.

Psst! Check out Emma’s Style CV in the May issue of the mag. Out 15th April, bbz!