When she discovered her love of fabric could be developed by studying, Cassie Byrne moved from Queensland to Melbourne and turned her passion into a profession.
After graduating from the Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design), now the Bachelor of Textiles (Design), Cassie was never going to settle for just any job. Instead, she made her own.
With the launch of her own label Variety Hour under her belt, a forthcoming solo exhibition and an impressive portfolio of client work for fashion brands including Kuwaii and The Ark Clothing Co, Cassie is a determined self-starter, proving it’s possible to pave a career in design.
“How to be a creative entrepreneur or designer-maker was embedded in me through the curriculum – it’s real life, lots of connections, lots of internships, lots of industry talks and opportunities to meet the maker. It was really encouraging.”
From how she divides her week and business to balance multiple projects, to the creative community she has come to cherish, Cassie steps us through a day in the life of a textile designer with a burgeoning career.
I am a creature of habit and have had the same routine for years. I wake up, make some toast and put on a pot of coffee before sitting in front of the TV and flicking between channels while reading the news on my phone. I have never been a morning person so I need time to take it easy and just stare for a while before I feel human enough to start work. That is one of the bonuses about working from home with no commute.
Even though I work from home, I’m strict with disassociating the two, so I always get ready and put on my work clothes. My motto is that I always have to be ready to leave the house – too many times I’ve been called into a meeting or something and I have been rushing to get ready.
I’ll open the door to the studio every day at nine. I plan each week meticulously, writing down everything I need to do before bundling tasks. Working in a creative field as a freelancer means weeks change constantly, but on a Sunday night I can pretty much plan for what is going to happen for the next seven days.
The morning is always the best time for me to work – I never look at emails, I just do the work straight away because I’m so happy and focused.
I might get to work on anything from patternmaking and toiling, painting up croquis or final pattern ideas and screen printing, to research and development for briefs and also my own collection.
I work between three different tiers in my business. A big one at the moment is working on a solo exhibition in June, and I give three days a week to that.
I dedicate two days a week to freelancing, which is my bread and butter. I just finished another collection for Kuwaii that took some time. I also do lots of work for The Ark Clothing Co and Nikel and Sole. I then have a few Australian and overseas clients that are just starting up so I am helping with their first collections.
For the two remaining days, I work on my own label, Variety Hour. I do everything: the textiles, the production, marketing, selling, everything except making as I have two seamstresses. At the moment I’m in the design phase for the next collection, but it also comes with a lot of correspondence and research.
My day is quite structured and split hourly because if it’s not, I can procrastinate. When you work for yourself there is no one there to push you, so you have to keep on top of everything.
Sometimes things don’t go exactly to plan, but I try not to carry over tasks to the next week. Because I have the exhibition, I have to be so focused.
I really think creatives are some of the most disciplined and organised people because they all have so much happening. They are never doing just one thing!
I usually make a good lunch at home, but sometimes I have to go to the post office to send out orders so I’ll get lunch out for a treat.
In the afternoon I’ll always be a little behind, but I keep going with the daily to-do and I’ll work through until the evening.
I’ll usually work through till seven, have dinner and then do something social. I might go to the dog park with my friends, go for a ride or go to a friend’s exhibition opening. I’m close with a lot of alumni, which is one of the greatest things I got from the degree.
I’ve started meditating before bed using an app called Headspace. With running a business, all the responsibility is on you and you have to make so many decisions – you learn to roll with the punches. Meditation is a new mechanism I use to relax and I think it’s working.
Acknowledgement of country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer
Acknowledgement of country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.