Hannah Gooding, fashion editor of game-changing publication gal-dem and budding garment technologist, is destined for success. She pursues her passion for fashion writing and styling as editor of the popular zine, but is making some wise choices by pursuing a career as a garment technologist, a job with a clear-cut career path that allows her to make a successful living. Interestingly, her diverse ethnic background as half Chinese and half British, a bi-racial young adult, makes her a perfect contribution to the gal-dem team, as she can relate to the experiences her colleagues have encountered, but also express her creative passions as fashion editor of the publication.

article thumbnail - pic 1

Pictures courtesy of  @hannahsangooding

 

Hannah joined the gal-dem team upon graduating university when she stumbled upon a Facebook call from editor-in-chief Olivia Little (@livslittle) who set up the publication whilst studying at Bristol University. She quotes; “I vaguely knew Liv from friends from home but she shared her status with me and I just messaged her with my experience, such as interning as an assistant stylist and a bunch of things I did at uni like running the photography committee. So with that experience she came back to me and said ‘Would you like to be the fashion editor?’ and that’s kind of how it began”. Since then, gal-dem has become an instant success. Described as a ‘vibrant online magazine written by women of colour for all to explore’, gal-dem highlights issues of race but also music, fashion, art from the perspective of one of the most underrepresented groups in the media – female ethnic minorities. The publication has been heavily praised, with Dazed and Confused recognising the indie magazine in the Dazed 100. She marvels on the brand’s success; “Just everyday we wake up and something amazing has happened. It’s surreal, but it’s just testament to how hard people work and how we have people that come from so many different areas that everybody has their own piece of expertise to lend. We’re not industry experts but together we’ve managed to tap into something that people obviously needed”.

pic 2

Pictures courtesy of  @hannahsangooding

 

Although the publication is primarily run by females of African and Caribbean descent, Hannah has still been able to relate to her colleagues’ experiences due to her mixed Asian-British heritage. She explains how the term ‘women of colour’ encompasses a ‘shared experience’ amongst ethnic minorities. This ‘experience’ was made even more apparent during her time at Durham University.  “I went to a really white university, having come from a really multicultural background, London. A lot of discussions on race were overlooked, which I didn’t realise at the time, until I was coming up to graduation and got involved in gal-dem and I was like, oh, all these microaggressions that I’ve experienced are actually things that have been bothering me but I never knew how to articulate”. On discussing the question ‘Where are you from?’, Hannah explains; “They’re usually asking ‘why do you not look fully white?’ Because I think that people look at me and they don’t necessarily think I’m half Asian but they definitely know that I’m not full white. I get asked that question almost on a daily basis sometimes”.

pic 3

Pictures courtesy of  @hannahsangooding

 

Despite her experiences with race at university, Hannah had an enriching time at Durham. Pursuing an academic degree in Philosophy was the most appropriate choice at the time as she wanted to live away from home and gain the authentic experience. However, Hannah always knew she was interested in fashion from a young age. “I’ve always wanted to work in fashion, it sounds cliché but I was that kid who used to go buy Vogue every month”. As a result, she successfully managed to squeeze her way into the industry at the tender age of 14. “I made my Mum become friends with Jimmy Choo so I could go work there because the Chinese community is really small in London. She went to a networking event for business people, met his wife there and asked ‘Can my 14 year old daughter come in for two weeks?’, and that’s really where it started”. Upon graduating university, she pursued fashion writing and styling, but quickly realised they were not sustainable in the long-term due to their freelance nature. Lost and confused, Hannah stumbled upon a careers fair and discovered the field of Garment Technology – an in-demand sector involving fabric selection and quality control, with a clear, direct career path. Realising that this particular area of fashion was also profitable, Hannah embarked on a yearlong course at the Fashion Retail Academy – a route which allowed her to gain an in-depth education in this area without needing to go back to university. However, she still continues her passions for fashion writing and styling in gal-dem. When asked if the publication could ever become her full-time job, Hannah describes how the main purpose of the publication was to inspire young women of colour and reach out to people’s experiences, not as a profit-making venture. She states, “it would be amazing to have [gal-dem] as our career but that’s not really why we’ve started it in the first place”.

pic 4 - credit this by Yvonne Gyamfi

Photo by Yvonne Gyamfi

Our discussion comes to a close and Hannah gives budding students tips for breaking into the fashion industry. She explains how important it is to utilise the contacts you already have. “I’ve been really lucky, I have really supportive parents who are not ashamed to ask literally anyone they know for an internship. My Dad heard that his colleague’s daughter was a stylist and asked for her email. I think it was the fact that I emailed her and sounded keen, she didn’t actually know that my Dad knew her Mum, and I got the internship anyway”. She also emphasises the importance of self-promotion, not only limited to blogging; “There’s so many ways you can do it quite easily now, just have an Instagram that reflects what you do, or even a portfolio”. And above all is patience, “something I need to play by myself as well”, Hannah describes. “I always like to know what the next step is but sometimes that’s not really possible”.

 

Our conversation highlights that a combination of preparation meets opportunity has led to Hannah’s success so far and gal-dem has given her a great platform to continue this trajectory. We look forward to seeing what the future entails for both Hannah and gal-dem.

 

 

Text by Rebecca Cofie

Special thanks to Hannah Gooding.

 

hannahsangooding.com

gal-dem.com