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CLASS OF 2018: Charlotte goes from DMU grad to snow queen

Once apprehensive about moving away from home, Charlotte Purnell is now relocating to the Netherlands to kick-start her career with a leading lifestyle-clothing label.


Charlotte (right) pictured with friend Chelsea

After graduating with a First in Fashion Buying with Design from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) this week, Charlotte is jetting off to work at O’Neill, a brand known internationally for its performance water and snow sports apparel.

As a junior garment technician working in the snow department, Charlotte’s role will include looking at regulating size ranges and developing specification packs for new designs, as well as inspecting samples for fit and compliance with strict industry regulations.

Charlotte’s decision to move away from home and take a permanent position at O’Neill was made easier by the fact that she undertook a year-long placement with the company as part of her degree.


Behind the scenes of Charlotte's final collection photoshoot

The 22-year-old from Derbyshire said: “When I was looking for placements, I had just about gotten my head around the prospect of moving to London, so it never crossed my mind to look abroad.

“Accepting the placement was one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made, but I ended up absolutely loving it.

“I can’t wait to go back and work with the amazing team there, which felt like a family away from home.”

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During her placement year, Charlotte worked as a garment technician in womenswear, which she found both challenging and rewarding.

“At first, there were a lot of processes to learn and working with suppliers in Asia means there are communication and time difference barriers to overcome every day,” she said.

“I was also surprised by how rigorous their garment testing is. It’s so thorough and time-consuming, something you learn about at university but don’t fully understand until you’re in industry.”


Charlotte's DMU Degree Show stand

Charlotte praised the support she received from #DMUworks, a programme aimed at giving students the necessary skills and qualities that employers look for.

She said: “They helped me perfect my CV and cover letter, as well as giving me mock interviews. When I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere they cheered me on and kept believing in me.”

Learning about the O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a programme educating young people about the marine environment and turning plastics cleared from the ocean into fibres for some of its garments, had a big impact on Charlotte.

“Finding out about O’Neill’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) really helped me with my sourcing module and influenced my final-year collection,” she said.

“I became passionate about CSR and I worked closely with my tutors to come up with a capsule wardrobe collection which was made responsibly and with longevity in mind.”

Attending a DMU Open Day confirmed to Charlotte that she had picked the right university.

She said: “I absolutely love DMU. When I got on campus I just knew that it’s where I wanted to be. It’s important to feel happy in your place of study, as well as with the subject you’ve chosen.

“The course itself has been developed in response to the industry’s need for young technical talent and it really sets you up for it.

“You gain in-depth knowledge of different fibres, learn formulas for different dyes and so much more – all of which I enjoyed as it appealed to my mathematical nature.

“All of the lecturers are from the industry, so their experiences, combined with the curriculum and valuable #DMUglobal trips, prepare you well for your future career.”

Posted on Thursday 19th July 2018

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