Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?
I had decided that the career I was in wasn’t the career for me. After a bit of soul searching and moving from Halifax to Toronto, I made the decision to go to fashion school because I knew that it was a passion of mine. The best advice I was ever given was do what you love. I researched fashion schools in Canada and found that Ryerson was the most credible and would give me the best chance at getting a job in my industry.
How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing Art Direction at Rogers Creative Group?
The program gave me an incredible wealth of knowledge in design/art/fashion history which played a substantial role in my understanding of basic design principles. The great thing about this program was that it give you the option to explore many facets of the fashion industry whether it be events, PR, buying, or design. I didn’t know my interests would lead me to design but they did and I can’t see myself doing anything else. I was able to take a few classes in all facets and find out what I liked and disliked. Once I realized where my strength were, I was given the opportunity to develop those strengths as far as I wanted to.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?
I wouldn’t change the program, I thought it was great. I wish I could have changed peoples perception of the program because it was really challenging and we learned so much. I had so many people think that I just talked about what celebrities were wearing on the red carpet at school all day which was really frustrating! Our education involved design theory, art history and so much more on the practical side, if an outsider spent a day in our lives I think their opinion would have changed very quickly!
What does a day in the life of Colleen Henman look like?
It changes from day to day! My department at Rogers works on 2 different kinds of projects and my role is primarily in Fashion and Beauty:
- Brand Creative: creating campaigns and marketing material for Rogers Brands from strategic ideation to concept development to photoshoot (if required) to multi platform design implementation. (Brands I work on are mostly Chatelaine, Flare, LouLou, Today’s Parent, The Shopping Channel)
- Integrated Sales: Creating co-branded advertisements with Rogers brands and external brand who are interested in utilizing Rogers media outlets as a platform for advertising. An example would be a Joe Fresh photoshoot cobranded with Flare featured on Flare’s cover with Karlie Kloss
My job also has a leadership role to it, I oversee a few designers and work closely with them from start to finish to make sure we are hitting the right brand positions on multiple projects. My job is about 70% overseeing and 30% hands-on designing myself.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Conceptualizing! When I was younger I just wanted to create good design–I didn’t think about what the brand wanted and how the brand need to be positioned in the industry it’s in. Now I realize that good design means nothing if there’s no strategy behind it. I love researching what the industry leaders are doing and how we can elevate a brand to their bull potential with creative ideas. Then comes design.
Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?
I’d like to become a Creative Director so I’m currently working on my presentation and leadership skills. I love helping others on their path to success!
What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?
The pretty things. As I get older I don’t care about the fashion industry scene as much but I’ll never turn down a project where I get to work with gorgeous product and create something beautiful. On a day-to-day I think a lot about my personal style and it’s always fun to get into the mind of a brand and help them execute their vision.
What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Art Direction?
It’s tough but rewarding! I spent a few years struggling to get ahead of my bills and student dept but the hard work and schlepping eventually pays off if you’re good at what you do and always try to get better. Never stop learning even when you are done school. This industry is built on technology and knowledge and it’s moving really fast. Make sure you spend a half hour each day on your learning and development, even if that just means finding a great campaign for Barneys and pinning it to your inspiration board.