I often wonder if I did make any difference to get my kids started in life. But this account is not about me or my kids. It’s about those who “make-a-difference” to so many they touch.
My daughter did her fashion management degree over 7 years part-time. That was at the Melbourne School of Fashion. Part of her graduation requirement was to design several pieces that models would show on a catwalk at the Crown Casino Ballroom.
There, students work would be judged by fashion industry gurus and buyers. Only the best in class enjoy this once a year coming out event. And just a select few get snapped up by the best of the best fashion houses.
But that was to come. During the course of her study my daughter confessed to me that she disliked pattern making.
“Isn’t that a core fashion design subject.?’ I asked.
“Yes,” she replied, “And it’s a real challenge for me to complete the degree”
It seemed a bit like an accountant student disliking bookkeeping” which is usually show stopper, So I cautiously asked her what she planned. Her answer was positive and ruthless.
“Dad I love fashion design and I am not going to stop. I just need to find a way to pass that subject.”
Concerned she might be looking for a shortcut I switched track and asked,
“Does this charge you dream to have your own business, if you don’t have a skill in what does seem like a basic?”.
Her reply was considered.
“Dad, my tutors say I can do it and I just need the practical work completed to pass. They say I excel at design and have a fashion commercial eye for what works, so I should make the most of it so I can present my work on the catwalk.
To make sure they said they are teaming me up with the best pattern maker students in the class. They said thier premise was to give them insight into what makes a good design. My help on that side they said would help them pass their design prerequisite too and I could see what motivates them. Hence I will be completing my studies with the best up and comers who are good at what I am not.
They also told me my presentation skills are my strength and I have a good understanding on practical business management aspects of what it needs to run a fashion business. That sweetener was immediately followed up with the risk of it all being for nothing, when they quickly added that a grade in the manufacturing skills is also needed to complete my degree. That put it right in my face between a rock star and a hard hat. so I am now going for broke. I’m just not sure if I will cope not being in control.”
“To answer your second question Dad, I am still going to follow my dream but I do know for sure I am not going to join a fashion house, even if I get an offer. It just not me, but fashion and design is.”
My daughter who was then 26, soon after graduated and was invited to show her qualifying work at the gala event I mentioned. It truly was a great event and no less impressive than had it been in Paris or Milan.
In the last decade, she has gone on to become a successful designer and producer in her own right in a do well or die industry. She has also branched into home wares and other lifestyle focus product and gets her own designs and others made up by industry fashion product manufacturers around the world.
She blames her success on the mentoring style of her tutors who in a highly competitive field, where only the best get selected. They had faith in her to do what she did well and share that skill with others to learn what she needed from them. I also saw that she was never concerned about her ideas and knowledge being used to compete against her.
She says she knows now that her tutors knew full well she would learn from sharing her strengths to not only make her designs, but also make then come to life. I do believe her tutors were highly skilled as learning facilitators with innate mentor genius that so few have.
”It’s not just about what education can do for you it’s about what you can do with that education to advance others” ( excuse my licence with the Kennedy quote)”
The fact is if you do, you almost always go way beyond any limits you place on yourself. Translated that says, “‘By giving help to others, you get so much more back. That includes understanding what you might have never even known or wanted to know”
In my daughter’s case at a practical level in her business she learned the value of what became valuable access to top-level skills that she did not do well herself. She now tells her team that being able to engage with others easily needs an investment in them. Sharing ideas and skill which without any obligation on them to help you works. That results in everyone prospering in so many ways beyond what they are capable of achieving as individuals.
I have often wondered where she learned all that, as I now learn by watching her. Being a millennial her luck in her mid twenties, I suspect was having professionals guiding her, who knew better than us as parents in the 80’s.