Posted 28 June 2022
Mention Naomi Rowaiye
Interview by Lyla Johnston

Boohoo graphic designer Naomi Rowaiye on how networking led to her fast-paced role in fashion

Naomi Rowaiye is here to sprinkle a dash of colour and a pinch of conceptualism in the fashion industry. Currently working in-house at Boohoo Group, it’s her job to create consistent promotional assets and material for their brands. But it wasn’t the easiest process to get there: graduating from uni during the pandemic, it took Naomi a ton of determination and many a cold email to secure her current position – a persistence she’s retained in response to the industry’s breakneck pace. Here, we speak to Naomi about moving to a new city for a job, being brave enough to ask for more at work – whether it’s clarity or salary – and battling misconceptions about her field.

Naomi Rowaiye

Naomi Rowaiye


Job Title

Junior Graphic Designer, Boohoo Group

Based

London

Previous Employment

Freelance Graphic Designer (2020)

Place of Study

BA Fashion Business and Promotion, Birmingham City University (2017–2020)

Social Media

Behance
Instagram

What I do

How would you describe what you do? And specifically what you do at Boohoo Group?
As a junior graphic designer, I work to maintain brand consistency across BAU [Business As Usual, or day-to-day operations] and promotional channels. I create daily assets for emails, social content, promotional banners and more. My work improves the operation of the department and effectively collates all their ideas into a visual format.

As a graphic designer, what are the main influences and inspiration behind your work?
Conversations – being able to talk to people about their experiences, thoughts and ideas and then to bring it to life visually.

Colour – design doesn’t have to be boring, and I try to explore colour in everything I do.

Travelling – I take pictures of everything, from graffiti to interesting textures that can be implemented into my work.

What recent project at Boohoo are you most proud of?
Urgh, there’s so many! I’d say working on some of our influencer projects at Boohoo, from concept to execution. It’s amazing seeing the different stages and how customers can be impacted at every stage.

What kind of skills are needed to do your role? And would you say you need any specific training to do what you do?
Attention to detail and a creative eye. Clear communication. Adaptability to a fast-paced environment. Being a team player. Good reproduction [taking a design and turning it into a final product] and digital knowledge. Creative ideation and conceptual thinking.

I wouldn’t say you need any particular training, other than up-to-date knowledge of software such as Adobe Creative Cloud and Figma. I’m learning new skills on the job every day as the company explores better avenues that suit business needs.

What’s your favourite thing on your desk right now?
My iPad! It’s a lifesaver when you need to do something quick, like an icon or illustration.

If you could pick one meme to describe your job, what would it be and why?
(Below) I think I underestimated the pace of the fashion industry and how fast the team and I need to work. It’s all worthwhile though.

How I got here

How did you land the job? Any advice for those interested in pursuing a similar career path?
Boohoo’s midweight designer was looking for a junior designer on LinkedIn – I connected and emailed her the same day. It was a three-week process – interview one, interview two and then a week later I was told that I was successful.


Network! Talking to people is your greatest asset. And not just people who are more experienced or in higher positions than you, but also people who are on the same level as you. LinkedIn, Twitter, The Dots and Instagram are great for this.

Don’t be scared to take risks or that leap of faith. Apply for jobs outside of your city if it’s financially possible – hybrid and remote working are widening our options in terms of who we work for and where we apply.

“Don’t be scared to take risks or that leap of faith; apply for jobs outside of your city if it’s financially possible.”

What was your journey like when you were first starting out? Did you find your feet quickly?

It was hard! Coming out of uni during a pandemic and into a struggling job market was difficult. I applied for so many jobs whilst freelancing and interning for small fashion brands with no luck. But I was determined to get something.

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
The global mentoring programme, Mentoring Matters – I was able to learn from experienced people in the creative industry and even featured in Vogue [Italia] as a mentee.

Internships, as I learned how the fashion industry works outside of the university environment.

Instagram and putting your work out there whether you have a big or small audience, as you never know who is watching.

“Whether you have a big or small audience, put your work out there – you never know who is watching.”

Naomi's graphic design work for Oasis, part of Boohoo Group

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?

I think, sometimes, people don’t respect the job of a graphic designer. People think we’re sitting at a computer all day, making things look pretty or looking at clothes all day. But we’re an integral part of the business because our designs are what the customer sees, whether on the website, app or on billboards, before making a conscious decision to shop and buy an item. And if we don’t get our job right, it can be costly for the business.

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative? 

Never be too shy to ask for more! Whether it’s for more information on the brief during a freelancing gig, more questions because you’re confused or when negotiating your salary in the last stages of a job offer process. Always know your worth and what you’re bringing to the job, especially if you’re a woman! What may seem like a quick task has actually taken years of dedication and knowledge. 


I also think that as newbies, fresh out of uni and entering the industry for the first time, we underestimate our importance – especially when it comes to negotiating salaries. Do your research, ask people who’ve been in your position and always ask for a salary range before giving your expectations for a salary.

“Always know your worth and what you’re bringing to the job! What may seem like a quick task has actually taken years of dedication and knowledge.”

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
From my mentor at Mentoring Matters about getting a job and potentially moving from Birmingham to London:

“Be scared, but do it anyway. Take the risk because you have to do what you feel is best for you. The only answer can be a yes or no. And if it’s a no, be content with the fact that you took the risk and can’t regret the fact that you tried.”

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Use the resources you have available, for example LinkedIn, The Dots and Instagram. Cold email or direct message employees in the company you’re applying for with your CV and cover letter [to make an open application] or to find out more about the company and the team you could potentially be working with.

After interviews, always send a “thank you for your time today, I look forward to hearing from you” message to the person who interviewed you.

Always be willing to learn – the industry can be different to the university bubble.

Be adaptable and open to compromise; change is inevitable. As a graphic designer in fashion, for example, my briefs can be changed to suit the needs of the business at any given time. So always be ready for change and never get too attached to a design.

Mention Naomi Rowaiye
Interview by Lyla Johnston