WHEN Heather Wilkie decided to study at Heriot-Watt University she never dreamt it would set her on a path to San Francisco.

But Heather, 22, who graduated from the Design and Textiles course in June this year has secured a ‘mind-blowing’ opportunity with one of the world’s largest clothing companies, Old Navy.

Born in the Philippines but raised in Glasgow, Heather’s path to working in fashion and design began when she displayed a flair for art at Castlehead High School in Paisley.

Heather began her studies four years ago, studying in the Heriot-Watt’s School of Textiles and Design out of the Galashiels campus.

In her third year, her big break came when she became the only student in Scotland to earn a three-month internship with Old Navy

Heather joined the company’s graphics team at its headquarters in San Francisco where she worked on key projects for the summer last year, and gained a rare insight into the hugely competitive industry.


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She explains: “It was an incredible experience, everyone was very friendly and looked out for me. What really surprised me, though, were the techniques I’d been taught at Heriot-Watt were the same as I was being shown at Old Navy.

“I had not expected that and it gave me a great confidence boost to know I’d been equipped with the skills and knowledge relevant to industry.”

Heather’s knowledge and ability to learn impressed senior company figures and in May this year, she received a life-changing phone call.

“The phone rang one day and I was offered a full-time job in San Francisco,” she recalls.

Heather says that she would recommend the Heriot-Watt course to anyone with an interest in fashion or design.

“Choosing the School of Textiles and Design has been an amazing experience for me and I would recommend to anyone who wants a career in this industry.

“The facilities are amazing and you get the opportunity to work independently on projects, which really appealed.”

Professor Fiona Waldron, Head of School at the Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design, said: “Heather’s story underlines the incredible opportunities that exist in this industry and our responsibility, as a university, is to help each and every one of our students achieve their goals.


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“A huge number of our students go on to forge successful careers and we take great pride in teaching them skills and techniques that last a lifetime.”

Heather will begin her new role as a Print Design Assistant for the Menswear Print Team at the end of August.

Famous Alumni of the Galashiels school of Textiles and Design include Dame Vivienne Westwood, who is largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.

Also alumni are British designers Jasper Conran OBE and retail consultant and broadcaster Mary Portas, who was appointed by David Cameron to lead a review into the future of Britain’s high streets.

Originally established in 1821 as the Edinburgh School of Arts, the world’s first Mechanics Institute, Heriot-Watt was granted university status by Royal Charter granted in 1966. The University has been named International University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018.