Fashion, Venue

An Interview with Emma Harrowing

Jarrold is a Norfolk institution, with the brand approaching their 250 year anniversary and its flagship store serving as a Norwich landmark. Behind the scenes of the department store is Emma Harrowing, a key member of the Norwich fashion scene; co-founding Norwich Fashion Week and writing as a style columnist on top of her role at Jarrolds. Read on for our discussion about her career and where the Norwich fashion scene is headed.  

One of your many jobs is as marketing manager for Jarrolds, what exactly does this job entail?

My job entails creating marketing campaigns and making sure that these are consistent across all customer touch-points, writing press releases and magazine columns, writing for print and web, managing the social media and developing a social media strategy, writing content for email campaigns and reporting on the success of campaigns in terms of brand awareness, ROI, and conversions.

How does such an iconic department store like Jarrold adapt with the times whilst retaining its historic image?

We have adapted with the times by making sure we give our customers want they want. Over the past few years we have transformed our Deli, introduced a pizza restaurant and recently seafood bar The Bay, revamped our home floor, and we are constantly bringing in fresh new 

brands across the store – some of which are exclusive to us in Norfolk. Actually, we are getting ready to launch our own brand food and drink (launching in November) which has seen us collaborate with local and independent food and drink producers to offer a selection of luxury food and drink you won’t get anywhere else. We want to make Jarrold a destination for experiences not just for shopping, and with six places to eat and drink, expert advice on all departments and a programme of events throughout the year we think we are delivering this. We celebrate our 250th anniversary next year so this ethos will continue.

The term ‘slash careers’ has become increasingly popular, wherein one person has multiple jobs. You describe yourself as a creative director, editor, writer and collaborator in your Instagram bio, how do you juggle all these different roles?

Ha. Many of these roles fall under my role at Jarrold. These days employers are looking for people who have multiple skills, so my job involves me being a creative director one minute and then a copywriter the next. In my spare time I also like to collaborate on photo and film shoots, and I do a lot of writing, most recently for Norfolk Online which is a website for people living and working in Norfolk – I am the fashion and style columnist for this. 

You were the director for Norwich Fashion Week while it was running, how did you find overseeing this operation, and would you ever want to start NFW up again?

It was a great venture to do and a popular event on the Norfolk calendar. It was challenging at times, but very rewarding and it was great to grow the NFW brand from the small show it was to a week long event with five catwalk shows and a design and enterprise day which consisted of workshops, talks and seminars. I worked at Archant as the editor of Norwich Resident magazine and fashion editor for the EDP at the time, so juggling two full time jobs was tricky. However NFW gave rise to many up and coming models, stylists, hair and beauty artists, photographers and other creatives, so seeing NFW being used as a platform for these people to gain experience and find work in the fashion and creative industries was reward in itself. It would be great if Norwich did have a key annual fashion event, not as a replacement of NFW but something altogether more different and in keeping with what society wants and needs – fashion weeks are becoming outdated now especially with the rise of conscience over issues such as sustainability.


What advice do you have for any students interested in pursuing a career in the fashion industry?

Get as much experience as you can – apply for an internship, volunteer at fashion events or for fashion charities (the Norwich Costume and Textile Association is a good one), make sure you get a good grounding in the skills you need for the industry by doing a degree such as Fashion Communications and Promotions at the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), or if you want to get into fashion design the Fashion degree at NUA is great – both also give you great industry contacts. Most important of all keep making contacts in the field and keep learning – the industry is constantly changing so regularly updating your skills and contacts will be part of your career even when you do make it into the job you want.

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Maya Coomarasamy

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May 2022
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