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16 March 2014
Last week, DAWN held its inaugural event to mark International Women’s Day. Our theme was ‘Building Resilient Women’.
My intention when I formed DAWN was to give a voice to women, especially to Australian women of Asian heritage, and to encourage them to share their professional and personal journeys, so that others can understand, and can empathise with who these women are. But most importantly, these women's stories could also inspire the next generation of young people to break the ‘bamboo ceiling’ to reach for what they want.
It is the beginning of a long journey, but I am grateful to have attracted a group of Australian Asian women who believe in what DAWN stands for, and what it wants to achieve – empowerment for Australian Asian women. It will be a space where Australasian women can gather to seek and provide mentorship and where they can educate and inform themselves on issues that are important to them.
Besides providing a platform, it also provides a networking opportunity for Australian Asian women to connect to one another, and to learn from one another.
It was through DAWN that I had the opportunity to meet Betty Tran, a wonderful young fashion designer from Perth.
Betty like myself, came from Vietnam. I was a refugee who spent a few years in camps, while Betty came straight to Australia at the age of 13 with her pregnant mother. Betty couldn’t speak a word of English when she arrived, but with the impending birth of her sister, Betty had to learn quickly so that she could seek work in order to help her mother and new born sister.
With her mother being a talented tailor, who had taught Betty what she knows today, both mother and daughter ended up working together for designer labels such as Pierucci, Morrison and Aurelio Costarella.
After studying PR and Marketing for two years, Betty realised that fashion was her passion and calling, so she switched to study a degree in Fashion and Textiles.
She started her label Betty Sugar, which quickly expanded and found its way into many stockists around Australia. However, after the global financial crisis hit, she almost gave up on her dream. All the stores that were originally stocking her clothes were closing down, and with it any chance of selling her clothes. With no income, she had no money to produce any more clothes and Betty Sugar the label came to a stand still.
Betty’s resilience stood the test of time. Instead of giving up, she went back to working in retail and the money she made from there went to the Betty Tran label and collection, which is inspired by the strength, passion and love embodied in the modern woman.
After showing her first collection in the Perth Fashion Festival 2012, she was then invited to feature in the New York Fashion Show 2012. This caught the eye of Victoria’s Secret model Jessica Hart, who later wore one of Betty Tran’s dresses at a launch which was then featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal.
Since then, Betty has opened stores in Perth and Claremont, has had her clothes featured in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and been invited to do a solo show this year at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney. Betty has dressed successful female celebrities such as Samantha Jade, Mel B, and Serena and Venus Williams to name a few.
I would like Betty’s story to resonate throughout the country so that it can inspire other young women, especially those from migrant and refugee backgrounds, to believe that despite and inspite of their backgrounds and circumstances, it shouldn’t stop them from reaching for the sky.
Betty Tran will showcase her solo show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Show on April 9. DAWN has 40 exclusive VIP tickets. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mel on 0422 118 268. You have until March 20 to purchase the tickets.