With the current state of the economy companies are searching for top talent, without the long term commitment. Enter the Freelance Designer, who provides all the skills and experience, for the commitment-phobe company. Freelance design is at an all time high as far as demand and supply. Many companies see freelancers as the key to getting work done-now. Doing business with a freelancer means less overhead cost, no health insurance or benefits, no 401K plans, or any of the perks of a full time employee, but all the creative talent, from a well versed individual. Freelancers need to be well rounded, having experience in both Technical and Creative design. An ideal freelancer needs to be able to take a concept to completion, and have the expertise and professionalism to stay up to date on industry specifics and trends even when they don't have an assignment. Personally, I faced a lay off in 2007, and chose instead of retreating sadly, to keep myself immersed in the industry, by networking, taking almost any project that came my way, and working on starting my own line. In starting my own line, I employed the same skills I did (and more) while drawing a regular paycheck. I inspiration shopped, created first specs, communicated with overseas contacts, conducted fittings, sourced fabrics, and approved trims, etc. With starting my own line, I also did other things like interview models for fashion shows and photo shoots, styled for photo shoots and fashion shows, contacted buyers, etc. As a freelancer, you must be well rounded, and take any opportunity. I signed up for Style.com, WWD.com (interestingly enough when I worked FT in the industry, I would often forget to read the WWD's that lay piled on the corner of my desk, because I had DEADLINES!), I check out the fashion shows, and get google alerts on articles pertaining to fashion so I could stay abreast of trends, and I have subscriptions to every magazine imaginable, Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, etc, and I STILL purchase copies of Italian or French Vogue. Just last night I stayed up till two am sending out specs and sketches to a few different factories in China to fill an order I have for a customer wanting dance dresses. I used the same skills I did when I received regular W-2's, which keeps them sharp and fresh. I still know where my industry expertise lies, but with opportunities abounding, I have developed myself into a Freelance powerhouse, and that is probably why my dance card is filling up fast. To all those also affected by the current economy, don't view a layoff as the end of your design career, see it as the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in your life as a designer! o

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