How 6 Kiwi fashion hustlers got their big break

1Katherine Lowe

Madeleine Walker from The Twenties Club asks fashion industry insiders how they got their big breaks

KATHERINE LOWE | @thedownlowe

“I started my blog just over seven years ago. It began as a joke but it quickly turned into a real thing, and by real thing I mean it was being read by people other than my mum and flatmates. Because I was always taking photos of models I developed good relationships with a few bookers at different agencies – one being Clyne, where I soon started working part-time, doing social media and administration. Nowadays, I manage commercial bookings and the development board of new-face fashion models, which involves scouting, walking practice and doing photo shoots to develop their portfolios. It’s a full-on job that often runs outside of work hours, so it’s important to have good organisational skills and to be available and contactable at all times. The fashion industry is particularly cliquey and who you know goes a long way, but people talk: whether it’s because you did a great job assisting or you were an inefficient person to have on set. The key is to make sure you are good at your job and that others want to be around you.”


Holly Sarah Burgess


“A few years ago I started doing small photography jobs for my friends who were also in the early stages of their creative careers. Then, in 2014, I was given the opportunity to shoot at New Zealand Fashion Week as part of a photography competition. This enabled me to connect with people in the fashion industry, and my hard work in building and maintaining those relationships since then has opened so many doors for me. Relationships are so important in fashion and if you are looking to enter this industry, especially as a freelancer, you need to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to as many key figures as possible. The hustle never stops, and neither should you. I love that work and play aren’t separate for me and I appreciate that even the challenges I face in this line of work are the times when I truly grow as a photographer.”

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Amanda Nakarmi

AMANDA NAKARMI | @amanda.nakarmi

“At university I studied architecture – a great discipline on both a technical and creative level. Fashion was always my guilty pleasure, however, and after I met Showroom 22 director Murray Bevan during a high school internship, the fashion PR showroom became my dream future workplace. A job there opened up when I was a week out from finishing my degree. I had never studied fashion or communications but I had done my research. I am now showroom manager. With over forty brands in our stable it’s a huge role that involves overseeing the movement of client news and garment samples, as well as working across events and creating engagement. Our clients are some of the best creative minds here and globally, and it’s so rewarding taking their work to the world.”


Rachel Caughley


“Straight after graduating from Otago University I moved to Shanghai, where I worked at an e-commerce firm helping Western fashion brands sell online. I was in over my head – trying to cope with a foreign culture on top of working in the biggest e-commerce market in the world – but the experience made me think, ‘if I can do this, I can do anything’, and the ‘anything’ I wanted to do was to open my own store in Wellington. Back in New Zealand, I read as many books as I could about women in business. I then wrote a business plan and began hustling to find the right location and raise funds. The best part of my job is connecting with customers and showing them that it is an act of self-love to walk out the door every day feeling great about themselves. The hardest part (but arguably the most important) has been learning how to say no and not feeling guilty about it.”


Paris Mitchell

PARIS MITCHELL | @parismitchell

“When I was 18 I spent four months in London as an intern for New Zealand-born designer Emilia Wickstead – an experience that gave me the hunger to come home and enrol at Auckland University of Technology as a fashion student. After university I moved to New York and nabbed a job as assistant to the design director at US Vogue. I immersed myself in photoshoots and started styling in my spare time. It was indeed a hustle. Now based in Auckland as a freelance stylist, my days are spent meeting clients and photographers to brainstorm ideas, as well as sourcing the latest ranges from PR showrooms. I also have an online boutique, The Mercantile Store, which I started with my best friend, Georgia Cherrie. Now we have our own label, Paris Georgia Basics, which was recently picked up by a New York showroom. Throughout this journey I’ve been consistently surprised at how willing people are to teach and give. I’m mindful of returning this favour to those trying to get their foot in the door of the industry.”

6Jade Leigh Kelly

JADE LEIGH KELLY | @jade_leigh_kelly

“It’s very rare to land your dream job straight out of studying. You have to be open and willing to start in a place you may have never considered. After I graduated with a BA Hons in fashion design I knew I wanted to be a designer, but following an internship at Karen Walker I was offered a job in production. I didn’t really know what that was but it turned out to be the most valuable experience – I’m for sure a better designer today because I understand how jewellery and accessories are produced and what the capabilities are. As for how I got my current role, it came down to me sending Karen a very passionate email asking if there was anything creative I could get involved with. She started giving me the same briefs as the design team and I worked late every night coming up with new ideas. When a design assistant role eventually came up, I got it, and things have progressed from there. My advice to anyone wanting to do what I did is to treat any internship or work experience like it’s a job interview. You never know who is watching.”

Photography: Angie Humphreys, Harry Were, Nicola Edmonds, Nicole Miller-Wong
Interview: @the_twenties_club |
This article was first published in the launch issue of Miss FQ Magazine


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