Student Spotlight: Sarah Ploegman

We caught up with Higher National Diploma student Sarah Ploegman to find out about her interest in fashion design, how the course offers her flexibility to focus on areas she is passionate about and her plans for the future.


Sarah lives in Canada and is a 20-year-old home-study Higher National Diploma student. Besides fashion design, she enjoys writing, playing the piano, nature hiking with her family, and reading classic literature. 

Since kindergarten, Sarah knew she wanted to pursue a career in fashion design. "My mom taught me to sew, but in grade twelve, I started to teach myself patternmaking. I designed and sewed my grad dress and a small summer wardrobe." And to further develop her interest, Sarah decided to enrol at the Fashion Design Academy.


Studying fashion design

The fashion design student explained how she made a list of key characteristics she was looking for in a course before enrolling. "For example, I was interested in learning more about patternmaking, CAD, fashion history, garment construction, trend forecasting and the design process in general. I have been enjoying studying these areas and many others."

Sarah said that initially, she had planned on enrolling directly on a BFA degree. "However, when I found that the HND is a recognized path to university, I decided to take this accessible route." She wanted an online fashion design program that would offer her the flexibility and accessibility needed. "Meanwhile, the idea of travelling for graduation and an internship was appealing to me."

Childhood Nostalgia - Deconstruction and reconstruction project. Moodboard and development sketches.

"The concept “Childhood Nostalgia” stemmed from the exploration of the idea of a butterfly’s metamorphosis." Image courtesy: Sarah Ploegman. 


Fitting the course into her day to day life

According to the home study student, "the course offers great flexibility". It has allowed Sarah to apply and focus on other activities while taking the course. "I have been able to have a summer job and recently started working towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award."

Sarah also shared how she organizes her study schedule. "I like to log in to the Academy early in the morning and finish my computer work around lunch. Then, I study fashion-related books and complete hands-on work in the afternoon, such as draping and sketching."

Although the HND student considers that the home study course has the potential to be an individual experience, "I always look forward to my tutor’s constructive feedback, which encourages me to keep improving myself."

Childhood Nostalgia - Deconstruction and reconstruction project. Final design. Image courtesy: Sarah Ploegman. 


Completing the assignments

"As I transitioned from an online high school, it was not difficult for me to complete my first assignment in an online environment."

Sarah explained that the biggest challenge was "becoming familiar with all aspects of the design process, particularly the research stage. In my prior experience of design, I did not complete very in-depth research but primarily relied on imagination. Now, I see how research enhances creativity."

Since beginning the course, Sarah has seen her abilities improving and thus feels encouraged to continue learning and developing. "I am particularly interested in applying sustainable practices to all levels of my design and construction processes. The course offers the flexibility for students to focus on areas they are passionate about."


Starting her own business

"Upon completing the course, I plan to apply for a BFA degree and start my own label. While I am confident that the HND provides me with the skills needed to start a business following graduation, continuing my education is important."

The fashion design student told us that she plans to launch an eveningwear label upon completing her studies. "However, I am excited to begin my business, so I am currently working on a small line of accessories."

Domestic Bliss - Autumn-Winter collection. Mood board and development sketches. Image courtesy: Sarah Ploegman. 


Sarah's advice to someone considering a career in Fashion Design

"Despite my early aspiration to study fashion design, I did have some doubts along the way. I thought carefully about fulfilling the dream of my “little self”. While people develop and shift their career goals as they grow, I found my curly scrawl, an ambition written at age four, to be wholesome and true.

For someone considering a career in fashion design, there should be that sense of passion, which drives the willingness to learn and face challenges."

Domestic Bliss - Autumn-Winter collection. Final looks. Image courtesy: Sarah Ploegman. 



Inspired by Sarah's story and looking to pursue your passion and interest in fashion design? Here's the full list of our courses that will help you succeed in this exciting field.

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Written by: Ines Tome

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