My Career: The Style Ignite sisters share their best business advice
17th Jul 2022
Jane and Ruth Flanagan are the powerhouse sister duo behind Style Ignite Studio, an Irish knitwear brand bringing stylish, sustainable fashion to the fore. Here they talk all things business, fashion and career.
Did you always want to work in fashion? When we were younger, we always envisaged ourselves working in fashion or being designers. Art was my strongest subject in school and I loved dressing up so I thought to myself, I could be a fashion designer someday.
In college, I studied… textile design, specialising in print
My first real job was…I’ve been working since the age of 14, but my first professional job was as an assistant food stylist when I was 25. I used to work on photoshoots for cookbooks and food campaigns, it was a really exciting job and every day was so different.
The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was…to have patience! Coming out of art college, most students are expected to do a number of internships and work for free for a period of time before getting a real job. It was a really tough time for myself and my college friends as we did internships in the most expensive and competitive cities like London and New York, it was cutthroat. We were working bar jobs in the evenings or at the weekends to survive. But it all paid off for us in time.
My main responsibility in work is to… as my day job, I lead design in the lingerie and accessories department in Dunnes Stores. My main responsibility is to feed the colour and fashion trends from each season to the buying teams and we work together as a team to create each range
The biggest risk I have taken in my career so far is… it was probably starting up our brand, Style Ignite Studio. We put all of our savings into it and we were dealing with a supplier halfway across the world who we had never met face to face, only through video call. It was also during the thick of the pandemic so really anything could have happened. Luckily, it worked out!
I wake up at…6.30am to start work at 8am.
The first thing I do every morning is… do some floor stretches, do my skincare routine, get dressed and go straight to work.
I can’t go to work without… my Fitbit, I liked to track all of my steps.
I travel to work by… foot! It’s great getting a walk in before I start my day.
I start my working day at… 8am. I like to start early so I have a longer evening, especially during the summer months
The first thing I do at work is… check my emails and get a coffee.
I usually spend the first portion of the day… I spend the morning getting back on emails and saving down market research.
I break for lunch at… 12.30pm and usually have a big salad for lunch followed by a tea or coffee with some dark chocolate.
The most useful business tool I use every day is… my most useful tools in work are my design software – Photoshop and Illustrator. I use them every single day.
I save time by… writing a list of the things I need to get done that day. It keeps me focused
I rarely get through my working day without…coffee and chocolate!
The best part of my day is… designing!
I usually end my day at… 5pm, unless there are some deadlines that I need to stay back to work on.
I switch off from work by… we never really switch off to be honest!
I often prepare for tomorrow by… getting a good night’s sleep. I try to get to bed by 10.30pm each night so I feel rested for the day ahead.
After a long work week, I destress by… having a Tanqueray and slim line tonic.
If you want to get into my line of work, my advice is to… take the time to create a professional portfolio of your best college work and go abroad to get experience working in the industry. Reach out to any connections you might have and just talk to people everywhere you go – cafés, bars, nights out and you can come across opportunities through the people you meet. Just put yourself out there.
In college, I studied… visual merchandising and display in DIT
My most formative work experience was… an Internship I did with the visual merchandising team in Brown Thomas. I assisted the head stylist Nicole Dunne at the time and learned a lot from her.
My first real job was… when I worked in Harrods on the visual merchandising team.The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… to build relationships in the industry you are in along the way because they will connect you to new opportunities.
My main responsibility in work is to… I look after the operations side of things for our brand. Day-to-day, I do admin, send packages, push sales, create content for our social media.
Do you have a career mentor or someone you look up to/seek advice from? Whenever we have a problem or need advice, we always ask our dad or our older sister in San Francisco as they have years of experience in business.
The first thing I do every morning is… try get outside and go for a walk.
I can’t go to work without… my phone.
I often prepare for tomorrow by… getting organised and going through what needs to be done the next day.
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is… setting up our own brand.
We have just finished working on… final amendments on measurements for our winter collection and at the moment we’re working on research for next summer’s collection.