Industry & Community Manager / Raffles College of Design and Commerce.
As the Australian fashion sect embarks on Carriageworks for a week of street style, hob knocking, and perfect selfies at MBFWA, one must pause and think about those unsung heroes of the industry. Those talented babes that educate and influence, that teach and foster the next gen. I’m talking about those people like Crystal Tsoi from Raffles College of Design and Commerce.
An experienced, goal-orientated executive in the education industry. Crystal is the Industry and Community Manager and spends her days creating business synergies through strategic thinking and global partnerships. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Crystal started her fashion career in design before moving to Australia in 2008.
In this mini #careerstory, we dive into the roles that education play in the fashion industry and what a day in the life of an education facilitator looks like. A first in a week of fashion-related interviews.
Let’s dive in.
Hey Crystal, thanks for joining us here at The Cool Career. Can you tell me about your childhood where you grew up?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong. My family runs a fashion wholesale and trade business. I was exposed to fashion/apparel at a very young age and around 6 years old, my family took one of my scribbles and actually produced it.
It was a peppermint empire cut sleeveless dress with a peter pan collar.
When I saw the dress being hung on the garment rail on the shop floor, I knew from the moment on, I want to be a fashion designer.
I can only imagine how exciting that would be, seeing your very own dress in a store. So, when did you move to Australia?
Where did you work before Raffles?
I was a student back then and studied full time, but I have always been very entrepreneurial. I am always doing a little project here and there. I also had a little fashion boutique in Hong Kong during the time when I was studying my Diploma of Fashion Design.
That’s awesome, have you always wanted to work in education or did you always imagine yourself as a designer?
I never thought I would end up in education, but I always love the idea of sharing knowledge and bouncing back ideas.
I believe this is what education is about. So it works out perfectly!
What do you feel has been your biggest career success thus far?
Setting up my first ever international partnership in China. I took over 50 Australian Fashion Graduate to China over the course of 3 years. In China the students did fun things like climbing the Great Wall of China, showcasing their clothing ranges on a Chinese Fashion Runway; as well as more serious activities like meeting buyers, media, and attending a presentation at the Australian Embassy.
It was a very meaningful experience for myself and the participating designers. A couple of them have relocated to Asia, and some have moved overseas to pursue their career in fashion.
Why do you think education is important to building a successful career in the fashion industry?
I think being in the college is a like an incubation process. It provides a testing ground for ideas, with mentorship from the lecturers and it is also an opportunity to form your own creative alliance with students from other creative disciplines.
At Raffles, our fashion students collaborate with fashion marketing, photography students to produce their assignment. And this bond is so strong that even when they have graduated, they will collaborate in the workplace when there is an opportunity.
Can you take us through a typical working day?
A typical working day starts with a cup of coffee, emails, and meetings.
Most of my job revolves around fashion events and partnerships – during fashion week, things get a lot more exciting and move a lot faster.
In my role, I am always attending back-to-back meetings with partners, media, productions etc. It is quite amazing to curate a show or event and see everything come together.
It is exciting to meet people from different creative backgrounds, who share similar ideas and thoughts and you can then help each other bring an event or concept alive!
What advice do you have for any girls wanting a career in the fashion industry, or as an educator?
I highly support those who would like to start out in the fashion industry – I really believe fashion is a strong form of language that has no boundaries. For those who are creative, you could take up fashion as a form of medium to express your artistic language and those that are business-savvy, fashion is obviously a multi-billion dollar business.
As an educator, my biggest advice to those who plan to start in fashion, whether it is to be a designer or be involved in the business side of fashion, it is important to stay true to your story, find a niche, and be authentic about it. “The point of difference” is what sells and bring you success these days.