Young creatives trapped in retail

As a young creative and a student, the need for money is always a problem and worry, which is something I’m sure we can all agree on. Although, we have our dreams and goals, at the same time we need to survive, and to survive we need money; and for that money, many of us turn to retail.

First, I would like to start off by making it clear that there’s nothing wrong with retail, retail is a great industry to get into, with a variety of different paths you can take; like fashion, technology or beauty for example. It offers a bunch of great career prospects, moving up ladders, seeing different companies and it’s reliable, unlike our dear old friend the creative sector. I feel like many of us go into retail, thinking it’s only going to be for a short while, just to raise money or that I can do retail and focus on my creative endeavours at the same time. However, I feel we often become too complacent in that space, with the constant money coming every month, the sense of comfort in the environment you’re used to and also the fear of having to go out into the creative industry with not enough money to rely on; we often just end up getting trapped in that state, leaving our creative sides stagnant.

I think as creatives we’re meant to take risks, but I feel like society conditions us to always play it safe, which is a good thing and a bad thing. When we’re at university, we’re told things like we need to be doing all this extra stuff, unpaid internships, extracurricular activities and outside work that would be beneficial for our portfolios and CV’s, which makes complete sense. However, at the same time in the real world, we are constantly reminded of the other things: the phone bills, the gym memberships, the rent, the travel cards, the food we need to survive on; the stuff we need to have a life. It’s almost as if sometimes we have to choose, and obviously as young people we want to live while we can, and we always feel like we still have enough time to stray back onto our path even if we veer off for a bit, so we ended up making decisions based on our pockets. I mean come on, I don’t know about you but I like to buy nice things and do a little retail therapy now and again, which requires me to have money. I feel like because of this we take that plunge into the retail industry and many of us then find it hard to get out of it. Either we stay too long and feel like we wasted too much time and think we might as well keep going and work towards getting better money or because we need the money to survive, we’re working too much, meaning we can’t produce our own work to the standard we need.

There were often times just this summer gone, where I found myself at work questioning whether I should’ve taken these extra shifts when I could’ve poured this energy into more productive creative ventures. I was finding myself too tired to do pretty much anything productive, and I was left feeling like I wasted the last summer as a student I had to add as much to my CV and portfolio as I could. Thankfully I was lucky enough, well I still am lucky enough, to be working for Shades of Noir, meaning I’m constantly boosting up my portfolio, however not everybody has that option. I feel as young people and students, we need to somehow find a balance between the retail jobs and trying to advance within our creative sectors. My solution to finding more time was moving back into my mum’s house, albeit losing a lot of privacy and freedom, this allowed me to work fewer hours and focus more of my efforts on my craft. However, again not everyone has this option. I feel like it’s up to all of us to find our own balance, and escape from that trapped feeling, or to never experience that feeling. Wondering where your money will be coming from or how you’re going to pay your bills is a very scary feeling, but risks are something we all need to take to reach our goals.