Freelance work during pandemic

Hello Wonderful Creators!

My question is this: As we ALL KNOW there has been a pandemic and many jobs have been removed in apparel, will there ever be a “right” time to ask for freelance work during this crisis?

My thoughts: there is never a right time, so Might as well ask! If you DO agree, how would you go about sending that email? and if you DON’T agree, tell me why!


I think the “right time” is dependent on you and the role you play in this industry. Unfortunately, and I say this as a designer, it seems as though we are the least likely to find freelance work right now. All of the opportunities both non-freelance and freelance seem to be in sales/production/supply chain/merchandising and some PD. And because of this it never hurts to just send the email, and see!

Over the past few weeks I’ve kicked my networking into overdrive and cold emailed numerous companies I’ve always admired and would like to work with. Fortunately, there’s been some traction! This is also the perfect time to establish an online presence. I think as businesses begin to change and teams get leaner, freelance will become much more common.


Hi LilyAgnes. I think it does depend on your role in the industry. I was just let go from my design job along with 80% of the design team due to COVID-19. I think unfortunately with the changes in the fashion industry there will be even less demand for designers than there ever has been before. With that being said I have been fortunate enough to have skills in 3D clothing design (CLO 3D) that not many designers have so this skill is in high demand and I have landed several high profile gigs.
I think it is important to have a stand out skill especially in technology as well as production, sales and supply chain as others have mentioned. Gone are the days of just being a creative talented designer and land jobs. The market was already saturated with designers and so many more year after year of new graduating classes. It is a very attractive field but there just aren’t enough jobs.
I suggest taking some course to hone in on some specialized skills so you can stand out in the freelance community.
Good Luck :slight_smile:


Hi BeKind, I agree, there has been a LOT of PD jobs. I guess any new jobs is better than no jobs in our industry.


Hi Carbz, Ive been doing the same actually. What the heck, right? All we can do is reach out. Super cool you have gotten some hits. Im trying to really select the companies that have a similar aesthetic as me. What are your specialties in design, and where do you live? I am in the PNW.

Hi Bluejay,

I am sorry to hear that, but sounds like you are getting right back on your feet! congrats to you. I also agree with you, too many designers and not enough actual skill and craft. Regrettably, I do not know anything about 3D Design. Did you learn on the job? I do also possess other capabilities than just actual design. I strongly feel that designers should also be developers, so I have my hand in both pots. I also develop prints and I have a dog sweater clothing line. I think my main question is every designer out there is how are they approaching the job market. Sounds like you are freelancing? How did you come to find your work? Much thanks

@carbz Hi again. Thanks so much for your reply. You are doing the exact same thing I am. My honest question with you: are you acknowledging the elephant in the room (covid)? I found writing that intro email very hard to say: Hi are you hiring? and don’t worry I know its Covid and I haven’t been living under a rock for the past 6 months.
Does one acknowledge the pandemic or does one stay hopeful, positive and maintain the “go get them attitude” that employers want?

Hi Lily Agnes. This true! I’ve been seeing more PD job’s too, even considering the switch.

Hi! To answer your initial question, I am a textile designer and I live in the NYC area. And honestly re: COVID, it might depend on the company. I’m actively trying to build a clientele of small businesses and start ups, so I’ve been marketing myself as a short-term contractor that can help teams be more nimble in the current environment. I’ve been briefly in touch with a couple large companies where you would normally expect the “go get them attitude,” and have generally found people to be pretty real about it. In email I typically, very briefly, acknowledge the current business challenges and then discuss what I can contribute.

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@carbz I totally see your point. In fact, the only work I am actually getting are from small businesses or startups. So you offer prints and patterns? super cool! Do you have a particular market you like to design for? and your preferred program to use?

@BeKind what category do you design for? I know it’s hard for designers to make the switch since it can be viewed as not “our area of expertise” but if you ask me, a designer needs to know both in order to make viable product. However, that being said, I know for a fact I am not always good with numbers. As a designer, do you have any technical work available to show employers? I am working on that myself.

I have experience across several markets, but I’m hoping to continue getting experience in mens and stay there. Program-wise, I definitely prefer NedGraphics but my business isn’t really where it needs to be to invest in a license. I typically stick to Photoshop and Illustrator these days.

@LilyAgnes Professionally I do accessories, mostly soft have some bag/slg experience but I don’t really like that category. And while working at my current job I have done some PD projects. Personally I design anything my heart desires, as long as it tells the story I want it to tell. Designing personally is how i keep my technical skills sharp, numbers however aren’t my friend.

awesome! bag/slg-Just met an amazing woman who teaches TP boot camp class online. Great for anyone who wants to get into that category and role. LMK if you would like details.

Thats great! I wasn’t able to learn NedGraphics, due to the fact a majority of the companies Ive worked for couldn’t afford it or wasn’t corporate. Do you think theres any money to be made selling prints online via those stock photo websites? I sell on one platform online. I find it really hard to make patterns when I don’t feel inspired or I’ve been at it too many days in a row. How do you work with clients?

Hi LilyAgnes,
I actually taught myself 3D design about 2 years ago, just out of pure interest. Throughout my career I have dabbled in freelance but never had much luck since a lot of jobs required the designer to be a one man show for very little pay (lowest offers for the job but then you were stuck with every little revision without pay). I wasn’t very smart about it but I also wasn’t specialized so my profile didn’t stand out.
When I was out on furlough from my job when Covid-19 hit Norway in March, I wanted to try my hand at freelance again but focus on 3D. Since I was still getting paid by the government I had nothing to lose if it didn’t work out. Turned out there was high demand for 3D because of the situation of covid and just fashion teching up in general. Once I lost my job I decided to keep pursuing freelance because there are no design jobs available locally for me right now and probably won’t be for a while with all of the companies downsizing. My guess is that it will be at lest a year if not more before fashion companies grow again.
I have had a lot of success using upwork to find gigs. I am signed up with several other websites but it seems a lot of Fashion related jobs show up on upwork.

@Bluejay that is so cool! How would you suggest someone learning 3D design? You are right there is a demand for that, especially when it comes to sustainability and preserving resources. I have heard of Upwork, I should look at that again. Behance also has job postings. You are in Norway, correct?

I’m sure @Bluejay will have more suggestions for the software they are using, but I taught myself quite a bit of Rhino5 through YouTube and LinkedIn Learning tutorials. There are also frequently online classes and other resources listed either at the software homepage or on user message boards. FIT used to offer a Rhino5 class (onsite and remote). If you took that class, you could get a student ID for that semester, which would qualify you for student pricing for software use.

Thanks for the info @HMSHaribo. Sounds like Rhino5 is the way to go. I will definitely have to check it out.