Jamie Windust: Prepared to launch
Jamie Windust says their time at UCA gave them the skills and confidence to launch a stellar career as an LGBTQ+ activist, model, writer and speaker who’s revolutionising the fashion industry’s representation of queer identities.
28 Feb 2020
Jamie Windust graduated in Fashion Management and Marketing* from UCA in 2018, and has gone on to become a champion for LGBTQ+ issues in the fashion industry and beyond, shining a light on what it means to be a non-binary person in Britain today.
In the final year of their studies at UCA Epsom, Jamie founded FRUITCAKE magazine to explore these topics. As well as continuing to edit the magazine, they are a TEDxLondon speaker, and write for publications including Gay Times and Metro UK. They are a signed model, as well as consultant on LGBTQ+ issues within fashion and beauty, working with brands such as Dove, UGG, ASOS and Tommy Hilfiger to help them as they evolve their brands to better represent and impact queer identities.
We spoke to Jamie about what made them choose UCA, what life has been like after graduation, and how they think future students can make the most of their time here .
Hi Jamie, thanks so much for talking to us. Your career has really taken off since you left UCA – can you tell us why you chose to come here, and what you gained from it?
One of the main reasons I decided to come to UCA was its community focus. The fact that it was specifically a hub of creativity convinced me that the environment would be perfect for me. All the locations are incredibly accessible and have swift connections to London, but they’re also quaint and community-focused, so I never felt daunted moving there.
I also gained much more than a degree. As a young adult, I was able to develop a sense of independence and autonomy and — more importantly — a sense of confidence in my craft, which readied me for the industry at large.
That groundwork and confidence seem to have paid off since you entered the industry — your profile has really grown. What can you tell us about life in the spotlight?
Life since I graduated has been an absolute whirlwind, but the skills I developed at UCA have fully equipped me to deal with the challenges of life as a freelancer; they help me to manage my time and my workload, and work to deadlines every day. My degree also taught me how to network and be as professional and composed as possible in new, and potentially intimidating, situations.
Throughout the degree — from the second the course began — the whole environment, from the language to the teaching, was structured as though we were already in industry, which meant that when we left we were able to deal with whatever professional environment we decided to work within. For example, I’ve spoken at events for TED and Google, where the presenting skills that I learned have been invaluable. And, having learned how to deal with high pressure environments on my degree course, I also feel equipped to tackle the task of navigating the media and press.
Having that experience at UCA has meant that now, no mountain is too big to climb.
And how about the fashion industry specifically — did what you learned about it on your course make things easier when you started working in the sector?
I chose Fashion Marketing and Management* because I wanted to really study and learn more about fashion, but never had a desire to design or create.
What the course taught me, through developing my knowledge of branding, fashion marketing and trend forecasting, to name a few, is that the fashion industry is much broader than we perceive it to be. It has threads through so many other industries, which means that, whatever career you choose, you’ll come out of the degree with some knowledge of that industry.
My final year gave me the opportunity to apply all the skills I had learned to starting a business that I feel passionate about. It’s so often a great space for people to launch real, tangible brands, like I did with FRUITCAKE.
A lot of your work focuses on celebrating different identities. Did the UCA experience have any bearing on how you’ve established your own unique style and sense of self?
University is often the first time that many of us are able to live, work and socialise as our own people, away from family and existing friends, and truly form an identity that fits us right. I discovered my identity and sense of self at university, and I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that in such an affirming and positive way if I wasn’t at UCA. The community aspect of the university is one of the best parts. The creative nature of the campuses also makes it incredibly easy to meet like-minded people.
What advice would you give anyone reading this who might be struggling with their own sense of self?
My advice to people who are struggling with their sense of self, or feel like they want to really find it and discover themselves, is to allow yourself time — just take it at your own pace. It can feel so important to rush these things, but taking your time, and creating a space that feels comfortable, content and supportive — like the one I found at UCA — is vital. Another crucial element is to push and challenge yourself sometimes, and going to UCA offered that me that. It was scary, but looking back there’s nowhere else I would choose for my journey of self-discovery.
*See the new iteration of this course, Fashion Business and Management on our course pages.