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Fashion Enterprise Miller Technology High

16 December 2013

One of our Ruby members Mandy Richards is the Director of Place Based Philanthropy at Sydney Community Foundation, Sydney Women’s Fund.

In March 2013 the ABS released its updated Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), identifying the Ashcroft-Busby-Miller area in the Liverpool Local Government Area south as Sydney’s most disadvantaged area.

Miller Technology High is the local high school in the area, and is well known for being highly innovative with its many different welfare and engagement programs. The school had also identified that a growing number of girls ranging in ages from 14 to 17 were disengaging from school. The result: erratic attendance, falling academic results and some risk-taking behaviours. Home life is turbulent as a result and parents were looking to the school to rectify this situation.

Sydney Women’s Fund has just funded a pilot project called Young Achievers: Fashion Enterprise Miller Technology High Project set up by the school. The project targeted a number of at-risk female students aged 14-17 years. The pilot was designed to provide an exciting, appealing incentive for female students to re-engage with their education and school through fashion and beauty.

A six-month business enterprise program was set up for the young women to gain practical skills in business, fashion and beauty. The goal was to produce a fashion parade in its entirety where the young women created the fashion, modelled it along with the beauty tips they’d learned. (Below is one of the students on the final fashion parade night.)

Miller fashion student

Students spent time with expert teachers, as well as with female role models in the form of female entrepreneurs from the fashion/beauty industries, where the aim was to provide inspiration and exposure to the pathways in life they’re passionate about.

It cost just under $10,000 to run the 6-month program and its success guarantees a green light for 2014.

According to Mandy, “The June Dally Watkins etiquette class was an absolute coup. June, herself, took the girls for the class. It was quite the My Fair Lady scene. The girls then practiced what they learned at High Tea at the Tea House in Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building – on the final fashion parade night each recounted what they’d learned as part of their overall presentation.

“Seafolly was also brilliant. They sent the girls packs to design their own swimwear before the actual visit by the girls to the business. They then took the girls through the whole process from idea to sales and showed them how to make patterns. They then presented the girls with samples of the actual swimsuits they’d designed from the packs they’d been sent earlier.”

However, Mandy says it was Kate from Uberkate who was the favourite and the most inspiring: “Kate ran a jewellery making session out at the school and there are definitely some budding entrepreneurs as a result. The girls have been making jewellery and selling it in the playground and one young woman is on quite a mission.

“I'm looking at helping her set up an online shop in another project I’m working on (an online sales/marketing platform for disadvantaged women with micro loans) and Kate will mentor her.”

The program also included a shopping trip to Westfield Bondi where each participant bought an employment appropriate and evening outfit after learning about their colours and what suited their body shapes.

Pictured below with some of the young women from the program are Riley Tombs (front left) program teacher, and Deputy Principal Romana Kolar (back centre).

Miller fashion 2


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  • Emily McAuley

    Emily McAuley 5 years ago

    Such programs are very important to empower girls in many innovative fields.