Unconventional Careers: From Fashion Designer to Business Strategist
Anette Jansz’s career is not like most others. The Swedish native had roots in advertising and marketing, well before establishing herself as a prominent presence within the fashion industry. Anette’s initial career objective was to showcase the benefits of design, which effectively landed her into the world of business strategy. Now, Anette consults for some of the biggest Aussie companies.
So how exactly does design affect business strategy?
While working as a Fashion Designer, Anette became familiar with forecasting trends. “To create great products and understand what shapes people’s tastes in the future, I needed to know what worked in the past.”
It was during this time that Anette also kick-started an embroidery and knitting company, producing Scandinavian-printed jumpers. The uniqueness of her designs was noticed by retailers who decided to stock her jumpers within department stores. Unbeknownst to Anette, hand-drawn design processes that she used to create her jumpers were going to take her career to the next level.
In a short trip to Hong Kong — one that ended up spanning three years — Anette found herself consulting and teaching European design. A particular company who saw her design processes came up with an idea to digitise them. Through Anette’s work, she created one of the first Computer Aided Design (CAD) software in the world.
Following her success in design, Anette signed a one-year contract teaching design RMIT university. It was teaching in Australia where that she noticed a major difference — Australian businesses tended to focus on price, not design.
“Playing on price is a race to the bottom. If your price is cheap, someone else with the same product is likely to make their price cheaper,” Anette reveals.
This was a contrast to European industries, which placed more emphasis on design. “A change in mindset is needed to help shift thinking from design to the customer. Question why should a customer buy your product? What makes your product significantly different to the product of a competitor?”
According to Anette, the solution to harnessing a customer’s buy-in and loyalty comes down to the design of a product.
“It’s important to start with the design of a product. Businesses need to be excited and not just by an idea, but by the potential of a product. They do this by understanding the product’s landscape — competitors, price, labour, fabric, or resources.”
Regarding her role as a designer within business, Anette does not forget about a financial outcome. “Amongst stepping into the mindset of your customers, you need to produce a quality design that can be measured — a financial metric usually indicates if your design is good, not just cheap.”
As results and ideas can be measured, businesses are encouraged to actively invest in design to foster long-lasting engagement with their customers. As a former advertiser turned designer, turned business strategist, this process is at the heart of Anette’s work.
Fancy a career that involves design-thinking? Read our career tips to launch a future in User Experience Design here.