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Meet the woman responsible for your favourite high-street designs

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Hannah Keegan
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Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Meet Kelly Harrington a print designer at H&M.

Kelly Harrington, 39, is a print designer, trend forecaster and vintage archivist at H&M. She lives in Surrey.

My alarm goes off…

At 6.30am. I grab my phone straight away to check Instagram. Then, I make a cup of earl grey tea. My work look is comfort-based, usually jeans and a blazer. I commute in from Surrey to London and use this time to eat my breakfast, usually fruit, and check the news app on my phone.

I’m responsible for…

Forecasting women’s key items for H&M two years ahead of time, sourcing and buying vintage pieces for our Stockholm-based archive and creating a range of prints for the design teams to work with. While I work with both the trends and print teams, I am also separate from them. I’m a bit of a lone wolf in that sense.

I got the job…

By studying print design at Loughborough University. I started as a print designer at a studio part-time while working behind a make-up counter. Eventually, an opportunity at H&M came up. I joined as one of two people working solely on print in their head office in Sweden. Now there’s around 80. I’ve been there for 17 years and began working with trends and the vintage archive about six years ago after deciding I wanted a new challenge.

Hopefully the bird motif makes the cut

My typical day…

Starts with checking my emails. I have to catch up with both the trends and design teams this way, as they’re mostly Sweden-based. Then, I make a to-do list for that day. I work on trends alone for seven weeks in the run-up to a company trend talk, which happens twice a year, and the rest of the time I’m on print.

Right now, I’m working on womenswear shapes for 2020 for the December presentation. When I’m working on print, I’ll change into an apron and start painting, drawing and using Photoshop to turn my work into repeat patterns for clothes. If it’s a complicated print, I can be working on it for weeks. A simple design could take me a day. I usually create a theme from a trend I’ve noticed and then build a whole series of designs around that. I stop for lunch at about 1pm. Most days, I take a walk to pick up some sushi.

We have an archive of vintage clothes in Stockholm that I am responsible for. I spend about five weeks out of the year travelling to places like Korea or Los Angeles to find new pieces to add to it and garner new trend information. Portobello market in London is great, too. We have the archive there to inspire our designers.

I leave at 5.30pm.

My most memorable moment…

Was working on the prints for H&M’s collaboration with Matthew Williamson. I worked closely with him to hone what he liked and didn’t like in each print I produced. I was really nervous, but he was so kind.

Kelly chooses the vintage prints to be stored in H&M’s Stockholm archive

The worst part of my job…

Is juggling different projects. I have to be on the ball at all times.

The best part of my job…

Is the travelling. My job has taken me to places I never would have been otherwise.

After work…

Sometimes I’ll attend an event as an influencer. I have 45K followers on Instagram, so I have to balance the opportunities that brings with work. On a free evening, I like to walk to Victoria station to clear my head. I get home about 7.30pm and change into my dressing gown straight away. I’ll cook something like pasta and then watch Netflix. I love crime documentaries. I try to be asleep by 10pm.

Images: Gemma Day

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Hannah Keegan

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