Hilde Heim is a Doctor of Creative Industries student in the School of Design. She is a couture designer and studio proprietor and fashion educator researching changing fashion careers, particularly in small-scale enterprises.
What are the opportunities and challenges of artisanal fashion careers for emerging Australian fashion graduates in the globalised creative economy?
Although they are hoping to win most designers are expected to lose (Karlan, Knight & Udry 2012). As seen from the studies in Project 1, designers immerse their lives into their business, embodying its philosophy, enjoying the flexibility and opportunity for creative freedom while hoping to make a livelihood. Some are succeeding in their ventures, however, often by their own admission, the designers are not competent in all of the complexities of fashion business. Many factors contribute to the success of a design enterprise, including business management capabilities. The opportunities for business management development are abundant for independent fashion design entrepreneurs and may be a factor contributing to this success. Project 1 looked at the environment and characteristics of independent designers in the current creative economy. Project 2 now looks at existing developmental support structures outside the business and asks if these could be enhanced to improve the long-term viability of micro fashion businesses. By applying literature on best fashion business practice to business model concepts, a conceptual framework is developed and serves as a point of reference to analyse the support mechanisms already accessible, including websites, industry body resources and incubators. Through interviews and discussions with focus groups of designers participating in fashion business development programs as well as individual designers, the study finds that entrepreneurs are more likely to embrace leaning-by-doing and learning from peers than other more formal modes of support. Furthermore, the intangible and uncontrollable aspects of business are those which elude the designers most, and are sparsely addressed in the literature and support services. This suggests that a hybrid form of support may be useful, which combines the interactive and contextualising capabilities of web 3.0 technologies with specialist advice from industry advisors. The study contributes to creative enterprise theory and expands the knowledge on micro independent fashion design businesses models by identifying nuanced differences in practice as well as proposing an updated application of business development support which may enhance long-term viability.