New Hampshire is home to more than 1.3 million residents living in nine principle cities and dozens of the hippest small towns in the U.S. Sure, the bigger cities have more places to shop and even more fashion events, but the smaller towns have something to offer too. New Hampshire’s smallest towns are very much into art and culture. They are home to theater groups, museums, art galleries, independent boutiques, and more. Getting involved in fashion is easy in New Hampshire, whether in a small town or big city, so the decision about where to set up shop will depend on which type of environment provides the most inspiration—for you.
Some of the largest cities in New Hampshire are Manchester, which is the state’s largest city, one of CNN Money’s Best Places to Live, and home of two retail districts—downtown Manchester and South Willow Street, and Nashua, which is also one of CNN Money’s Best Places to Live. Concord, Dover, Rochester, and Keene are also principle cities. Small towns such as Peterborough, home of the country’s oldest artists retreat and several theater groups, and Washington are high on the list of small towns to visit or settle in.
No matter where you go in New Hampshire, you’ll find shopping venues ranging from small, independent boutiques to upscale shopping centers. The residents here dress for comfort mostly, but the look is still current and fashionable. Designer clothes, shoes, and handbags are staples here, along with fashion eyewear. Fashion professionals will have no problems fitting in here and even fewer problems finding a fitting position.
Career Opportunities & Employers in New Hampshire:
New Hampshire fashion designers and fashion merchandisers can find work in retail fairly easily. Other jobs for fashion designers are available in technical production, sample design, pattern making, and more. Some New Hampshire designers are independent contractors, while others manage their own boutiques, studios or brands. Many entry-level designers may also work for seasoned designers or merchant wholesalers.
Fashion merchandisers work in management (wholesale and retail industries), buying (retail), merchandising (retail), promotions, and auxiliary positions such as mystery shopper, stylist, or fashion coordinator. Many also work in visual merchandising for retail stores or fashion houses. New Hampshire fashion design and merchandising graduates can find work in just about any city here, but try the locations listed above first to see what they have to offer.
New Hampshire Fashion Schools & Programs:
Making it big in fashion design or fashion merchandising takes hard work, talent, and luck. It also takes a degree. A degree can help you get your foot in the door for most salaried positions because most employers prefer a two- or four-year degree from an accredited college. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design, so you’ll find plenty of programs to choose from. New Hampshire is home to several schools that offer fashion programs. They are:
- New Hampshire Institute of Arts, Manchester
- University of New Hampshire, Durham
- New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester
To get started on a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, the first step is to enroll in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. If you want to start your own business, consider combining your degree with a business or marketing degree. Keep in mind that most universities offer marketing and business degrees, while most art and design schools do not. You can take business courses at another school while completing your fashion program or you can wait until you have completed your degree to enroll in a full-time business or marketing degree program.
For more information about the fashion design and fashion merchandising industries, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Bls.gov.
Employment and Salary Trends for New Hampshire:
New Hampshire is home to 40 salaried fashion designers, down from 70 in 2004. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report figures for self-employed fashion designers, so there are likely dozens of independent designers living in the state. They may run their own boutiques, they may have their own lines or brands, or they may work on a project-to-project basis for both local and national clients.
Overall employment in the fashion industry looks good for the 2008-2018 decade. Employment is expected to grow by one percent, which is impressive in today’s economic climate. Sewing and cutting jobs may decline as established designers and brands choose manufacturing companies overseas. However, employment of fashion designers is stable because many firms prefer to keep design work in house.
As of May 2008, the mean annual wage for fashion designers overall was $61,160. The lowest paid fashion designers earned an average annual salary of $32,150 and the highest paid fashion designers earned $124,780 per year. New Hampshire fashion designers average $87,810 per year. This is the nation’s highest salary for fashion designers. It is important to remember that because many fashion designers are self-employed, salaries may vary greatly. A top fashion designer can earn millions per hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year.
As of July 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had not yet reported salary and employment figures for fashion merchandisers. However, a significant part of the job involves working with window and store displays. There are nearly 200 salaried merchandise displayers (visual merchandisers) living in New Hampshire, up from 170 in 2006.
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