Vogue Knitting magazine editor Trisha Malcolm laid out a perfectly-organized, step-by-step process full of self-reflective questions a list of roadblocks to foresee to a room full of aspiring knit- and crochet-wear designers in the Chicago Room at the Palmer House Hilton on the first day of Vogue Knitting LIVE in Chicago. In addition to telling her audience what to do, Malcolm laid out several examples of what not to do based on the previous mistakes of people submitting their work to her publications in ways which could potentially blacklist a designer from the industry.
"Number one: never miss a deadline." Malcolm was already over halfway through her presentation when she was still stressing sentiments such as this one, giving insight into the level of professionalism expected by designers submitting their work for publication. Malcolm broke her presentation down into an easy-to-understand, eager-to-follow format complete with slides that made universal sense. Her no-judgment approach allowed the audience to ponder their own futures with a more open mind, from the beginning segment of "Is this a viable career?" to "The value of 'free.'"
Malcolm encouraged students to be practical without squelching their own dreams, asking them to ponder, "Can you afford to do this job as a knitting designer and still afford to eat three times a day?" Her seventeen years working at Vogue Knitting in her position came into play when discussing the length of time a designer may be considered for a particular submission. "I have tons of plastic bins in my office, and all of them have designs that may be used in the future." She also reminded her audience that this is not a high-paying industry; when one student asked how many designers had a positive Profit-and-Loss statement, she replied, "I don't know if I can answer that; it would depend on how you define 'designer.'"
The lecture was balanced with snippets of the horror stories which come with a history of encountering the occasional sub-par submission. Malcolm mentioned previous submissions which arrive smelling like cigarette smoke, designers who do not return all of the unused yarn with their finished project, designers who submitted items for photo shoots two days beforehand which were incomplete, and even submissions which had to be ripped out and re-seamed before they could reasonably be photographed.
Students asked questions relating to the industry, such as how long designers should wait before their submission was considered "rejected," and which areas of knitting were passing fancies versus a sure bet. "Babies are always a good choice; people will always have babies," said Malcolm, to the chuckle of the audience.
At the end of the step-by-step presentation, Malcolm asked the audience if any of the budding designers had been published. One student raised her hand, sharing that she had been published in a magazine and that Lion Brand Yarn had just purchased two of her designs the previous week. "Congratulations!" said Malcolm. The rest of the audience was equally supportive, congratulating the student and applauding her.
"You create your own legacy." Trisha Malcolm sent several dozen students on their way to doing just that on day one of Vogue Knitting LIVE Chicago.
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