Women In Design feat. Susan Walbrook

Meet Susan Walbrook, a seasoned Fashion Designer turned Certified Coach, specializing in tackling Imposter Syndrome and Negative Self-Talk in Creative Professionals. With 26 years in the fashion industry, Susan’s career ranged from tailoring for NEXT to serving as the Brand Ambassador for Jasper Conran Womenswear at Debenhams. Here she shares insights gained from her journey and offers valuable advice for professionals facing similar struggles. 

 

Olivia @ ADLIB: Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

My name is Susan Walbrook, I’m an ex Fashion Designer (26 years in the industry), now a Certified Coach specialising in Imposter Syndrome and Negative Self-Talk to Creative Professionals.

Graduating from Ravensbourne Art College in 1995, I spent most of my fashion career as a Tailoring and Outerwear Designer working with NEXT on their iconic Directory for 12 years, finishing my career as the Brand Ambassador for Jasper Conran Womenswear at Debenhams.

In 2019 after an amazing career in fashion, I burnt out, crippling Imposter Syndrome and Negative Self-Talk had finally taken its toll, ironically, it’s now the very thing that I specialise helping creatives with.

My biggest mission is to help all those other creatives who suffer in silence, to  ‘lift the lid’ of the stigma attached to it, to have no shame in talking about it…after all, 7/10 professionals will suffer with it at some point in their career.

My clients are working at the Fashion Houses in London and Paris, International Design Agencies, studios, from Junior positions to Creative Directors.

 

Olivia @ ADLIB: In an attempt to capture some of the Wisdom you’ve gained as a woman in the design sector so far, what are 5 “stand-out things” you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

Leaders to show a bit of vulnerability

I believe that it’s up to our Leaders to start changing the workplace, to help cultivate an environment where you can feel safe in the knowledge that you can make a mistake and learn from them, after all, success comes from those failures. This may start with the leader showing their own vulnerabilities.

Adapt a growth mindset as apposed to a fixed one

Always have an open, curious mind, know that we’re always learning, gaining experience from others, you may not always have the answer immediately, but know that it is out there for you to find.

Don’t allow your inner critic to stop you from progressing

If you find yourself going ‘down the rabbit hole’ of self sabotage, ‘I’m not good enough’, then you have to start re wiring your mindset from an its default programming. Show it evidence that ‘you’re plenty good enough’ with a long list of achievements you have already accomplished in your career.

Also, as the negative thought arrives, ask yourself ‘ is it REAL’ , before you allow it any more precious time, believe and trust in yourself.

Spend time actively listening your Juniors

I always enjoyed seeing my Juniors thrive in their roles, after all they are the future, it show’s great Leadership. Don’t ignore them, this could be your own EGO showing itself !

Work / Life balance

In order for you to be the very best version of yourself , you need to look after yourself. Don’t under estimate the importance of sleep, exercise, diet and down time, in order for you to then be the very best version of yourself at work.


If you’re inspired by the stories and wisdom shared in our ‘Women In Design’ series and would like to contribute your own experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Creatives at all levels, please email Olivia and your story could be the next we feature.

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Olivia Lowe