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TAFE Queensland student Jay Harris always had an interest in fashion, but never thought he’d ever have the confidence to make a career from it.

“Looking into the fashion industry from the outside, everything just seemed too hard for me to learn or understand, and the industry itself was intimidating,” explained Jay.

After several years working in retail, Jay was encouraged to enquire about studying fashion at TAFE Queensland’s Mt Gravatt campus by a friend who was already enrolled in the course.

“I had a desire to work with my creative strengths to design and make something. So I visited the campus and as soon as I toured the Fashion Centre of Excellence and saw the facilities, I was blown away – it was where I saw myself, despite having never sewn a stitch in my life!”

Jay began his fashion career studying the Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising (MST50119) in 2019, and thrived under the tutelage of teachers in the industry-standard facilities that he describes as unparalleled to anywhere in the world.

“The Fashion Centre of Excellence is a whole building dedicated to everything fashion. There are rooms for pattern making, millinery, sewing, stretch wear and screen printing, all with industry-standard machinery and equipment giving us everything we need to successfully bring our ideas to life.”

“Couple that with the amazing teachers who break down the subject matter and guide us through it step by step and it’s a recipe for success. They care about us so much that they often stay late, come in on weekends and keep us on track.”

In a sign that he’s on the right career trajectory, Jay recently won the Country Women’s Association Bursary award for a range of swimwear he created during his diploma studies.

“My designs were sci-fi streetwear meets wearables that are both flattering and empowering to their wearer,” he said.

“Winning the award was amazing because before studying the thought of using a sewing machine gave me a panic attack, but now I have the technical skills to bring any idea to life."

After graduating with his diploma, Jay enrolled to study for a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Applied Fashion) (ARB402) with the University of Canberra.

“The bachelor is a step up from the diploma but I love training with TAFE Queensland and my amazing teachers are so supportive and always pushing me in the right direction to refine my skills even further,” he continued.

No longer intimidated by the industry, Jay thrives when designing and creating fashion items and can see a clear career path, developing a strong sense of identity through being hands on in the fantastic facilities.

“I came from no training and couldn’t even thread a sewing machine, and now I’m tailoring suits, shirts and swimwear – all thanks to my teachers and their training.”

His advice for anyone thinking about a career in fashion?

“Chase your passion and push yourself. Even if you feel you’re not confident in your abilities, you most likely have the skills and know-how, you just need the right environment to bring them out.”

“I’m so thankful I chased my dream and took on this challenge. The support and guidance that the teachers at TAFE Queensland are giving me is incredible.”

“The sense of comradery amongst my teachers, classmates and I has helped my skills grow and give me confidence to experiment and push the design boundaries to meet assignment briefs and bring my visions to life. I couldn’t be happier,” concluded Jay.


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