When Ashleigh Huntley’s mother taught her how to sew at the age of seven, no one could have predicted it would spark a lifelong passion.
Ashleigh has held fashion close to her heart ever since, combining countless hours of hard work with natural talent to develop her skills through the years.
After finishing high school, she studied an Advanced Diploma in Applied Fashion Design and Technology with TAFE NSW and kick-started her fashion career.
Ashleigh’s talent became abundantly clear when, in 2013, she was invited to compete at the International WorldSkills Competition in Leipzig, an annual event which showcases the value of specific skills by recognising the top professionals in a variety of fields.
Competing in the field of fashion technology, she finished the event ranked 5th in the world. Yeah, she’s seriously good at what she does.
But she’s no one-trick pony: she also performed in rhythmic gymnastics competitions at state and nationals levels, using her passion for fashion to design and create her own leotards.
Ashleigh has since founded her own business, Ash-Lynne Couture, and hopes to establish herself in the international fashion scene.
Naturally, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask her about her studies, her career and her inspiration.
What’s the story behind the launch of Ash-Lynne Couture and what makes you unique amongst other bridal and formal couture seamstresses in Sydney?
“Ash-Lynne Couture was launched in 2014. After working in fast fashion for a little while after graduating I found it disheartening and wanted to be part of the whole process of fashion, not just design or just patternmaking.
“This decision was influenced by my involvement with the fashion industry mentors and training from WorldSkills Australia Fashion Technology.
“In 2013, after training and competing at a national level in this ‘Trade Olympics’ competition, I achieved a spot on the Australian Team who were competing and representing our country in Germany in late 2013.
“My training involved honing my skills in a mixture of couture and industry methods in garment fit, construction, patternmaking and design. It was from competing and placing 5th overall in the world at this competition that I decided that a couture fashion pathway was where I was wanted to be in the industry.
“I work one-on-one with clients to create their unique designs from scratch. They are generally formal, special occasion or bridal clients who appreciate the extra attention and love given to hand-making their special outfit.”
Tell us about your studies at TAFE NSW and how they set you up for success.
“I studied for three years at TAFE NSW, graduating with the Advanced Diploma in Applied Fashion Design and Technology.
“The industry-based skills I learnt there through the teachers helped me become multi-skilled and have the option of being able to work in both the fast fashion industry – in roles like specialist computer patternmakers and garment technicians – or do couture dressmaking. like I do now.”
What are the core design principles that guide your design process and aesthetic?
“I always go back to talking to the client and asking them what they want. If they can’t describe it to me, then I get them to bring me a selection of pictures for ideas.
“Then I look at their shape and work with them to design something that is flattering and still ticks the boxes with what they want their special garment for.
“Fabric and fit are everything in couture dressmaking.”
What advice do you have around study and work experience for young aspiring fashion designers looking to get into your field?
“My advice would be to stick to your guns. Know how you learn – whether you’re a practical learner or visual. And understand what your strengths and weaknesses are; work on both and always be willing to learn and grow from everything and everyone.
“Be open-minded and positive because you never know where a little perseverance and self-belief will lead your career in the industry. Occasionally you will have to persevere on a job or a career side-pathway for what you can LEARN, not so much for what you can EARN.
“Success isn’t just about dollar value; it’s more personal, about being happy and enjoying what you do every day, too.”
Inspired by Ashleigh’s story? You too can follow your passions and turn them into a career. With over 1,200 courses, including diplomas and degrees, TAFE NSW offers a real-world course for just about anything you want to do in life. So take the leap and make the switch to TAFE NSW
today! Find out more here!
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