Moving to Sydney to study fashion//
I started Namoi in Sydney in 2010 as a creative hobby while I was studying fashion, 10 years on I am reminiscing back over my experiences in the fashion Industry & journey through a series of social media & blog posts. (apologies for my terrible writing, I don't do it very often) x
I'm almost 32 years old, it must have been 12+ years ago I moved to Sydney from Adelaide, I was about 20 years old..
I had a few attempts at starting a proper career in Adelaide but after a while I decided I absolutely had to pursue fashion more seriously, get it out of my system. I had actually applied for fashion at TAFE after year 12 but I did not get in.
In year 10 I was told that I needed to be good at maths to do fashion, so I pursued all the harder subjects in year 12, maths studies, specialist maths, chemistry, biology and English. It didn't help me get into that TAFE course.
After my bitter disappointment of not getting into fashion I ended up working in hospitality for several years, starting a marketing & international studies degree at UniSA, working in alterations, then sewing for a local fashion designer Waratah Karloo, Yogini Streetwear in Adelaide and working for George Gross Harry Who in seasonal despatch, which I loved.
I researched colleges and found a couple in Melbourne & Sydney. I applied for Raffles in North Sydney & got accepted ( I have some advice for young ones thinking of going to one of these colleges so get in touch if you want more info on this, a topic for a future blog post)
I was also extremely fortunate to get a job working for George Gross Harry Who / Kathy Gross in Double Bay in the marketing office, when I flew over to look for a place to live & have an interview, Kathy said to me "the office is on Cross Street Double Bay, you do know Cross Street don't you" to which I replied "I'm sure I'll find it" Kathy followed up with "well you mustn't know Sydney very well" . During our interview she said to me " to anyone who says they want to do fashion, I say, don't, you are loosing money as soon as you buy the fabric" I really admired Kathy, George and Harry, they were self made success story out of Adelaide.
Working 3 jobs to save enough for the move to Sydney I basically worked 7 days for months on end. My parent's were supportive but not enthusiastic about the move, they certainly were not thrilled at my choice in career either. So I had to be self motivated to make it happen, they certainly were not going to fund it.
I ended up finding a room in a renovated boarding house on South Dowling Street near Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, really it was almost Redfern, quite gentrified but also an interesting area in Sydney.
My room was on the top floor, 3 or 4 flights of stairs up. The room was quite small, maybe 3m x 4m, a wardrobe, single ikea bed, ikea table, chair, sink / small kitchen bench I think rent was $250 per week. Shared bathroom & toilets, which were 2 flights of stairs down. I don't know if it's Sydney cockroaches or just Surry Hills terrace house cockroaches but at this particular house they loved the showers, sometimes you would walk in to see them scamper off & a couple escape down the drain pipe.
(the view from the hotel on my first night in Sydney)
The most economical method of getting to Sydney with my sewing machines & everything else was.... the bus!!! Yep 36+ hours on the bus ADL > SYD. I had 5 huge suitcases, one was a large box with my sewing machines.... it was so heavy the bus driver said as long as I could lift it on and off the bus I could bring it with me. So I arrived at central station, bleary eyed, anxious with my 5 large suit cases, trying to get in a taxi, it was so busy, I started putting my cases in a taxi and the driver refused to take me, he didn't want my cases on his leather seats. The bus driver threatened to report him ( he wasn't pleased about that either). I eventually got in another taxi and got to my hotel a whole 5 minutes away on Albion Street.
(the boarding house I first lived in)
The next morning bright and early I set off walking to the real estate agent on Crown street to sign my lease and collect my keys, if you know this part of Sydney you'll be aware of the hills from Albion street to Crown Street. Back to the hotel to check out, collect my luggage & get in another taxi, he dropped me at the corner of South Dowling and Cleveland street. First I had to get the suit cases off the street, onto the door step of the boarding house, then get them up the first set of stairs, into the door, it had a dead lock and I was terrified I would lock myself out. Then get them up to the top floor. I got most of them up ok despite the humidity but the box with my sewing machines was quite a different story. Lift a few stairs, drag a few stairs. Eventually I must have made so much noise one of the other residents came and helped me get it up the remaining 3 flights of stairs. I lived there for a while, I can't really even remember 3 - 6 months maybe. It was quite a blurr, I studied in North Sydney, worked in Double Bay prepping new season ranges for showings with GGHW and most days I would catch the bus to central, go to college, then in the middle of the day race off catch the train to Edge Cliff station and walk down to Cross street Double Bay, yep up and down another one of Sydney's big hill's each day. I had a leopard print bag on wheels filled with text books, patterns, pattern rulers which I carted around everywhere. Kathy said to me "well you were green when you started and now I suppose your pink". I worked with her for about 6 months but it wasn't really sustainable for either of us.
I had several job opportunities in Sydney where I felt they could have been full time jobs and I felt conflicted as I had come to study but in some ways the study interfered with the career opportunities.
(central station Sydney)
I moved house a couple of times and changed jobs, interestingly I lived with and worked for Adelaide expats. I think back and wonder if I would have the guts to move to a new city where I knew no one, to pursue a frivolous dream and live in a boarding house...
More stories to come. xxx Kalila