Australia's only fashion accelerator programme, Fashion360, is a six-month event equipping emerging fashion entrepreneurs with skills.
These skills will help to sustain business, with the programme providing mentoring and a range of masterclasses.
Phoebe Paradise is one of the designers participating in this year's event.
Here, she answers some questions about her inspirations, the industry, and Fashion360.
First of all, what gets your creative juices flowing?
I think the best thing for me to get inspired before knuckling down on a collection or client project is getting my ass OUTSIDE. Creating work in a vacuum does me no good, and it's easy to get stuck in your own head. Once I force myself out and go for a walk, hit up GOMA (Gallery Of Modern Art) or spend time with friends, it frees up my brain to do some creative problem-solving.
You've had quite a bit of success with your brand. What has been a big highlight in terms of success in your career thus far?
Thank you! Success is definitely relative; I feel really bloody lucky to be where I'm at but also constantly hungry to keep moving forward and try new things. Recently I was commissioned to design and customise a two-piece suit for Ella Hooper which was honestly a dream come true. I've worked with her on a couple of custom jobs and she's just the sweetest and most supportive person, but this was definitely a much larger undertaking for both of us. It felt like a step up from my regular works.
Image © James Hornsby
What brought you into the world of fashion, and what has kept you in it?
I'd say I came into fashion from a bit of a different direction to a lot of labels. Phoebe Paradise was a trading name for my business doing merch designs and gig posters for bands and venues across Brisbane/Melbourne. I have no real tertiary education and didn't come from a fashion background at all. I'd say my influences really come from music and the local scene here in Bris. It started with sharpie-drawn and acrylic painted tees and totes, and then over the years I moved into brightly printed garments and accessories, just constantly trying to test new ideas and seeing what stuck. I've always really loved fashion and design since I was really little, but it felt like this aspirational, unattainable world for someone who couldn't afford new clothes OR fit into what was on the shelves. I think that's changed somewhat since I was a kid, and there's much more inclusivity in that world now. I'm still doing it because it's what I love! Getting emails from customers who have been buying my stuff for years saying that they feel good and fun in what I produce NEVER, ever gets old. Being self-employed in a creative job is crazy-hard and a lot of work but I feel like I have purpose in it.
You're taking part in QUTCEA's Fashion360 programme. What do you hope to gain from it?
I love this programme! Honestly, I think one of the real values in this course for me is being able to take a breath from the nuts and bolts of the business and give myself room to critically analyse my product within an educational framework. I've been winging it for years and it's nice to have support from these great educators to help build on what I've created.
Image © James Hornsby
What do you think is important about the programme?
I think the support is a huge one. Running a business can be an isolating experience and working alongside other founders and educators that have this major wealth of knowledge provides the opportunity for growth. I've seen other pals' labels do exceptionally well after completing the course, it's really great to see.
What is the biggest misconception about the fashion industry?
GOOD QUESTION! I think, like many creative industries, there's this misconception that people know what they're doing 100 per cent of the time. Everyone I know working in this industry are just regular people, working hard, who love creating cool stuff and want to make their mark. There's so much improvisation and making it up as you go along when it comes to small business, which is definitely part of the fun. I think customers like to see that there is a real person behind the clothing they buy, and not a faceless corporation pumping out 50,000 units of a dress they knocked-off from the catwalk. Rather than homogenising, local labels are leaning into their niche, and people respond to that.
What does the future hold for Phoebe Paradise?
I'm really, truly loving working on these custom garments right now. There are a few cool outfits I've been working on that are being sold to clients, and I'm trying to make affordable versions for my customers too. There's something so satisfying about putting paint to fabric, and I want to return to my roots of doing these one-off pieces for a couple of capsule collections.