Sarah Ann Murray (1999-2001)
Sarah graduated from Birmingham University with a degree in Law and French but shunned a career in the corporate legal world for a career in the creative industries, where her true passion lies. She is now an independent menswear stylist hired by magazines, brands, production companies and publicists to style a model, celebrity or product for photo shoots. She is approached by small upcoming, quality brands to help them grow; the brands often having an emphasis on clothing that is hand-made in the UK. Highlights of her career so far include styling the American actor and film producer Samuel L. Jackson and French actor and former international footballer Eric Cantona. Her latest work includes styling British model David Gandy for Marks & Spencer and Tennis star Sir Andy Murray for Jaguar.
Could you write a brief pen portrait about yourself and your career?
When I left Bolton School I wasn’t entirely sure what career I wanted but I knew deep down that I didn’t want a career in law. Regardless of the industry that I’ve found myself in, it’s remarkable and never fails to surprise me how impressed people are when you tell them you have a law degree with a language, especially as a woman working in a creative industry. It is a great thing in life to be able to surprise people with your successes.
Living in France for my third year at university gave me a taste of experiencing different cultures and immersing myself in a completely different life. It was while travelling that I realised I was so driven by the idea of how different styles of dressing could have an impact, good or bad, on people’s perceptions of you. I went on to study at the London College of Fashion then worked freelance in the industry, doing anything and everything to gain experience.
I moved to Singapore at the start of the economic crisis and after a year of freelancing I joined a luxury men’s magazine, The Rake. I moved back to London with the magazine four years later when I became their International Fashion Editor. I’m now at the next stage of my career, starting my own business at a critical time in the industry which has very much changed to incorporate the power of the digital world and its new voices, from bloggers to Instagram stars and You Tube sensations. Journalism and media are rapidly changing and perhaps for the better as the consumer is now far more informed.
My role as a Stylist starts right at the beginning of the process when a creative concept emanates either from a fashion trend or an editorial idea. Then I look at photographers, models and locations and the logistics and planning begins, always bearing in mind both the budget and creative brief.
What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
I only attended the Sixth Form which whilst it made me wish I’d been at Bolton School throughout all of my school years, it gave me a perspective on how lucky I was to attend at all. Even at sixteen it was tough to start a new school, but everyone was genuinely welcoming.
What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
So many! Being made a Prefect, especially as a newbie was a very welcoming feeling. I made some incredible friends who I still talk to now, but overall it was a very inspiring place to be, surrounded by such successful women with so much potential. I hadn’t realised at the time but as equality still proves to be an issue in the professional world, a school filled with the smartest, most driven women, was and continues to be, so important for women everywhere.
Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?
Yes, all of them, in their own way. Miss Hadjigeorgiou taught me English Language and she was strict but brilliant. I was most inspired by the whole ethos of the school; every student was encouraged to use their strengths.
What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
The school’s attitude and ability to achieve a ‘work hard, play hard’ balance is something that has stuck with me. No matter what you do in life, the secret to success is working doubly hard to achieve your goals and living a full, rounded life to get the most out of it.
What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
• Experience as much as you can in life.
• Be prepared to work hard at whatever it is you want to do – with a good work ethic you’ll go far.
• Even if you’re not sure what it is you want to do, keep trying, keep moving forward and you’ll eventually learn what makes you happy or drives you.
• Do everything with gusto and always treat people well, even if they don’t reciprocate. People remember and value kindness and good morals.
What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?
It’s imperative to keep education open and accessible to everyone. One of the most important things you can provide for a child is to gift them with the key to endless opportunities.