CLASS OF 2019: Next up for Millie, the sweet smell of success

Millie Neal’s distinctive style has kick-started her career with a multinational clothing, footwear and home products retailer.

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The Graphic Design (Illustration) student, who graduates from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) tomorrow, has already started working as a graduate designer at Next.

Her role within the homewares and beauty department involves designing for kids’ fragrances, including doing market research, creating mood boards and working with buyers and merchandisers.

“I’m really happy because I had a lot of anxiety about finishing university and not having a job,” said the 22-year-old from Kibworth Beauchamp in Leicestershire.

“Although the role means I have to adapt my style to fit the Next brand, I’m still encouraged to be playful, which I absolutely love. It’s brilliant.

“I’ve only been in post a few weeks, but I’ve been on a business trip for research purposes and I already feel like I’m part of the team.”

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Millie credits skills-based classes and her own attendance with giving her the tools to succeed in industry.

She said: “I’m so thankful that we were taught digital painting skills - knowing how to create digital textures has been really useful.

“Being in university a lot also helped me to develop a good bond with my tutors. They got to know me really well and that’s why they forwarded me the recruitment email from Next, because they knew it was a role well-suited to my personality and skills.”

Growing up in an artistic family, and with a grandfather who was a signwriter, Millie was always encouraged to be creative. “I’ve always loved calligraphy and experimenting with type, as well as collaging, which I do by scanning in magazine cuttings and digitally drawing over them,” she said.

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Millie embarked on DMU’s Art and Design (Foundation Studies) shortly after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

She said: “Being diagnosed at 18 turned my life upside down, but it also encouraged me to channel my creativity through personal projects.”

Among Millie’s final-year display at DMU’s Degree Show was a zine about living with her chronic condition, complete with accompanying merchandising.

“I wanted to create something which inspires people to take control of their diabetes, rather than letting the condition control their lives,” she said.

Millie’s other final-year highlights include working to live briefs set by industry experts and creating artwork for DMU’s Stephen Lawrence Research Centre.

She said: “Live briefs were a great way to learn how to stick to brand guidelines while still being creative. For the Stephen Lawrence project we worked with the Leicester Print Workshop to learn traditional letter press techniques, which is a valuable skill to have.

“DMU has definitely set me up for the future, but I’ll really miss the people. I made the best friends I could ever ask for on my course and my tutors gave me the best advice on both my works and personal issues.”

Posted on Friday 12th July 2019

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