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Interview: Kate Berry, founder of QHQ - the leading specialist consultancy in garment and textile technology in the United Kingdom.

Career in fashion is an important issue on FashionUnited. With this interview series, we would like to show how versatile the industry is and introduce the professionals who work in fashion. Recently, we have talked to Kate Berry who has told FashionUnited more about her role as Founding Director of QHQ - a specialist consultancy in garment and textile technology.

What does your typical workday look like?

My typical day starts with a brief strategy meeting, then I get into candidate interviews, and client and partner meetings. Later in the day, I dedicate time to keeping up to date with new technical developments, what’s going on in the industry and current technical trends. I keep in contact with many Universities and training providers and I’m always interested in where the demand for technical services will be next.

How does your workplace look like?

Very tidy…

What do you like most about your job?

Before setting up QHQ, I worked as a senior garment technologist for over 20 years - so I have both retail and manufacturing experience with leading high street brands such as Debenhams, Arcadia, Monsoon, and NV (now Next Sourcing). I draw on this knowledge every day when talking to clients and candidates and I enjoy keeping connected to the industry through our business. I have traveled a great deal throughout my career and I really enjoy living and working in Europe. The European fashion industry offers great opportunity for global travel and relocation and I hope this will continue in order to secure the industry’s future.

How many emails do you write per day?

Not too many - in fact as few as possible. I always try to speak to people personally.

What is necessary/important to work for QHQ?

I would say experience is key. This is what really sets our consultancy aside from others. We are a compact team with specialist expertise. Both myself and co-director/owner, Sally Blaxall are experienced garment technologists. Sally has 15 years’ experience at Marks and Spencer as a garment development technologist across womenswear, Autograph, homeware and lingerie. Jane Duncan, our Account Manager is also a Senior Garment Technologist in multi-product Womenswear, Childrenswear and Accessories with over 20 years’ experience for major brands including Tesco, Monsoon, Boden and Gap. I feel this gives us a depth understanding of the technical requirements of both retailers and their supplier base.

Did you always want to work in the fashion industry?

I always had an interest in the practical aspects of design and fashion. I finally decided when I did a post grad in Garment Technology at Leeds University that this was the side I wanted to get into. Also, I have a passion for travelling… Garment Technologist roles often involve travel to a manufacturing base - ideal for a travel fan. My first offshore role was in Australia in Retail and then I went on to a manufacturing role in India and from then on I was hooked.

Which piece is a Must-Have in every closet?

In the UK - a classic winter coat. My current favourite is from Boden.

Do you have any tips/recommendation for people who would like to work for QHQ? Is there a No-Go?

Our organic growth has been achieved through our reputation with returning clients, offering unmatched service levels and accommodating small niche brands through to major high street retailers. Strong working partnerships with our clients and consultants form an integral part of our business model. Our aim is to provide an exclusive service tailored to our clients’ needs and to deliver it with integrity. We are always open to new business clients and we are keen to meet candidates right through from junior garment technologists right up to senior / board level.

In terms of advice I would say that temps need to be flexible, adaptive, focussed and confident enough to be able to work at professional speed straight away without too much support.

I recommend they build up some experience first before starting on freelance career. Multi-product skills are always an advantage – and provide more opportunities. All rounders are always in need, as are candidates who are confident enough to apply their skills in any situation and negotiate at all levels.

This article was created in cooperation with QHQ Ltd.

Learn more about QHQ as an employer? Click here to see their job offers.