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Fashion ‘Kids’ Star

Fashion ‘Kids’ Star
From left: Hanisi Hodge, Dylan Kava, Jorja Naidu and Alipate Sowane
May 29
12:40 2018

The Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival is only a few short days away and excitement is building for the refreshed, highly anticipate, high quality fashion platform.

It is the fashion industry platform that we all deserve.

What many don’t know is that behind the scenes, the team that is bringing the Festival to life is made up of dynamic, young men and women who have been thrown into the deep end.

They are often referred to by the Festival family seniors as “the kids”, and have indeed become a loyal army for Faraz Ali, the Fashion Council of Fiji and Festival Chairman.

“My kids are who and what I am most proud of in terms of the success of the Festival. Watching and being a part of their growth has been very rewarding.

“They have really taken ownership of the Festival in a way that I never expected, and they are as committed to its success as the Council, Trustees, and Sydel (Festival Event Manager). Young people like them are the future of our industry, and indeed of the Council and Festival.

“We decided to get these young people involved because they see the world differently, and in unique ways. Our Festival’s strength is having these young minds involved in the broader decision making processes. In turn, we give them our experience as industry leaders and develop them for all that the future has in store for them.

“I personally have becoming very fond of them all, and am protective of them. Our relationships go beyond just work.

“They have become a significant my life. I am truly grateful for them.” Said Faraz Ali.

Here are their answers to questions we asked them:

 

Hanisi Hodge, Assistant to the Event Manager and Sales Manager, 21

 

What has the Festival experience meant to you?

I wholeheartedly believe in the platform that FCF is creating through Fashion Festival, so getting to be part of the inaugural Fijian Fashion Festival feels like a privilege. I know this event will start off with a bang will grow exponentially moving forward, and I look forward to being able to tell my kids “I remember the first year, I was part of the team that put that together.”

 

How have you grown as a person?

I’ve worked with tight deadlines before, but working in event management really tests what you’re made of. I believe all challenges are a chance for you to grow, and this has definitely been a worthwhile challenge for me.

 

Do you feel like the skills you’ve learnt by being a part of the Festival are skills you can carry with you for life?

Absolutely, there are things you learn in school, and then there are things like teamwork, leadership, inner strength, assertiveness, and self-confidence that you learn through experience.

I also know that the management skills I’ve learned through this experience will be applicable to anything I want to do going forward.

 

Tell us about the Festival Family? Is it a close group? Is there a hierarchy?

We’re definitely a close group, the fact that we’re a small team means that we all have to work well with each other.

Fortunately, we all get along very well as friends, which makes working together not only easy but fun.

In theory there is a hierarchy, because all working relationships have some form of “chain of command”, but one of the things I like most about my leaders is how down to earth they are.

The working hierarchy really only applies to decision making, not status or value as a team member.

 

What have been some of the greatest challenges and how have you overcome them?

Because I’ve had a history with social anxiety, my greatest challenge was dealing with people.

The thing that helped me overcome it was the support of my friends/workmates,because they reassured me as I grew the assertiveness I needed to effectively do my job.

What has it been like working with?

Fashion leaders?

Scary at times, because they are very particular people, but over all a great learning experience.

It feels great to learn directly from successful people who have real experience in their field and are respected,established members of the industry.

 

Who in particular have you learnt a

Valuable lesson from and what was that lesson?

I think my most valuable lesson came from the Festival trustee that I work most closely with, Faraz Ali.

That lesson was that you should never just let a good idea sit, or think “it would be nice if that happened” or “someone should do that.”

You do it. Whatever it is, if you believe in it enough, you can make it happen.

 

Do you see yourself as part of the fashion industry’s future? Anything is possible.

 

Jorja Naidu, Social Media Manager, 21.

 

What has the Festival experience meant to you? The Festival experience has been a rollercoaster of numerous experiences and emotions, and I think that’s how you know it’s going to turn out amazing.

“As a creative artist, I’m grateful and proud to be working in an organisation that’s developing and growing a platform for the various creative industries in Fiji, because I know there’s so much potential.”

 

How have you grown as a person?

Yaaaaas.In makeup skills and as a Ru-Paul Drag Race fan.

 

Do you feel like the skills you’ve learnt by being a part of the Festival are skills you can carry with you for life?

“Definitely! I’ve learnt to carry myself with confidence, work among people with different opinions and express it maturely, finding solutions at the very last minute, improved my alcohol tolerance and verbal comebacks and trusting others.”

 

Tell us about the Festival Family? Is it a close group? Is there a hierarchy?

“A Considering we have principle qualities that the Festival promotes, such as equality and diversity, I feel like I should say no, but let’s be honest:we’re a group of people that just gel together well, and though we do respect and treat each other equally (in our own sick way), there’s a respectful relationship between us and the older members of the Festival family.

Basically, Fuzz (Faraz Ali) is Beyonce and Regina George’s love child… who’s adopted us.

 

What have been some of the greatest challenges and how have you overcome them?

Dressing myself for events? I haven’t had to go (and sometimes work) to so many fashion events in a few months, I usually have that one outfit for one massive event a year. I’ve overcome them by letting my team style me and finding the best bargains at thrift stores (I am not sorry about that $2 shirt I wear over and over).

 

What has it been like working with Fashion leaders?

Fortunately, it’s been easy-going and fun. We all have similar visions and passions, and we learn strengths from each other where it would usually be a weakness working alone. Working with particular leaders, such as hairstylists, makeup artists, designers and stylists, I’m constantly in their game of dress up and makeup. I got a pixie haircut and went blonde in one day.

 

Who in particular have you learnt a valuable lesson from and what was that lesson?    “I feel like we all kind of learn things from one another, but I’d have to say Ilai (Ilai Jikoiono, Designer Manager) and Fuzz (Faraz Ali) have taught me to unapologetically be myself and not let others make me feel bad about it if other people don’t like it. They call me Chun-Li now.”

 

Do you see yourself as part of the fashion industry’s future?

*Jia Gunn voice* absolutely. I have no idea where the future will take me, but I know I always want to be part of the fashion revolution.

 

Dylan Kava, PR Manager, 23

 

What has the Festival experience meant to you?

It’s definitely been a period of personal growth for me.

Never in my life would I have imagined myself being bunched with a group of fellow weirdoes who perfectly feed off each other’s energy to pull off what is to become Fiji’s peak industry platform for fashion. I don’t know how the group dynamics work, but it just does.

It’s also allowed me to develop my skills when it comes to time management, organisation, priority listing and working within a team. These guys really don’t shy away from telling you what you’re not doing well as well as what you’re doing well—we’re all about the positive vibes.

 

How have you grown as a person?

I’ve always been the odd person out in social situations.

Mostly because of my anxiety and partly because of my “aesthetic”—which is a bit different to most guys.

So it was nice working with and getting to know people who celebrated differences—up to a point where it became a competition.

How most groups have that one ‘extra’ person, our group is just a group made up entirely of ‘extra’ people.

But being part of the team has essentially taught me that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to stand out a bit, it’s okay to be a bit assertive—and this has really boosted my confidence and in a large part, has contributed to reducing my social anxiety.

 

Do you feel like the skills you’ve learnt by being a part of the Festival are skills you can carry with you for life?

Absolutely! It’s not all as glamorous as it may seem—there is an element of ‘glam’ but there is a lot of work that comes with being on the organising team and helping build and sustain a brand.

Helping Faraz and the Festival trustees bring their vision to life and seeing the hardships that we’ve each had to endure, I can confidently say that we’ve each learnt a multitude of lessons that will stay with us.

Whether it’s fashion tips, organizations tips, one of our ‘talks’ with Faraz about life and or about the history of fashion, it’s truly hard to quantify the latitude of knowledge that we’ve each gained.

 

Tell us about the Festival Family? Is it a close group? Is there a hierarchy?

“I reckon the Festival Family is a bit too close LOL.We pretty much see each other everyday. If we don’t, we’re always active on our group chat—not always talking about festival stuff, but the usual shade throwing and GIFS.”

“I’d say there is a hierarchy, but the work environment is always kept casual with tonnes of jokes, laughter and even crying at times.

“So there is definitely a hierarchy, but work is delegated and trust is exercised; that we would each carry out our assigned roles and also pitch in and help others with their duties should the need arise.But Sydel is Queen!”

 

What have been some of the greatest challenges and how have you overcome them?

Definitely adjusting my work style and work ethics to suit the team dynamics.

“I’ve never been part of a team where each of us had a significant impact on each other’s roles.

So I’ve had to learn to somewhat blur the roles that each of us have been given as there is so much grey area.

So I’ve basically learnt that I shouldn’t be too strict with job descriptions as all our jobs overlap to a certain extent—essentially, just do the tasks and have all your avenues covered.I was guided a lot through the MANY team meetings that we have in which we were encouraged to be honest with each other. This led to a lot of intense conversations; not necessarily festival related, but pertinent nonetheless as it contributed largely to our morale as a collective.

 

What has it been like working with Fashion Leaders?

a Being part of the team and working with people like Faraz Ali, Ilai Jikoiono, Aisea Konrote, Elaine Taylor, Rachel Fairfax, Zelda Thomas and other fashion stalwarts is more than anyone could ask for.

It’s easy to forget the their impact, pull and contributions to the Fashion industry cause we’re rubbing shoulders with them—but it has been an absolute pleasure and a unique opportunity to learn about the industry’s luscious history as well as industry insights.

 

Who in particular have you learnt a valuable lesson from and what was that lesson?

It would have to be from Faraz.Lesson: BE UNAPOLOGETICALLY YOU!

 

Do you see yourself as part of the fashion industry’s future?

“Yes, definitely. Maybe not as a designer or fashion icon, but definitely in terms of the background work for future shows and fundraising efforts.

My involvement with the Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival has allowed me to see the fashion industry eco-system in action whereby each and every one of our successes as stakeholders of the Fashion Industry only serves to further bolster and grow the industry. So I would definitely love to be involved with future events.

 

Alipate Sowane, Assistant Model Manager, 21

 

What has the Festival experience meant to you?

The festival experience has been amazing. It means so much to me, it stands for a lot of things that I believe in as a person. Things like diversity and inclusivity.

 

How have you grown as a person?

“I have definitely grown as a person. Being part of the festival team has really taught me a lot about myself. I feel that I’ve discovered more about myself over the past few months and I continue to everyday that I’m involved.

 

Do you feel like the skills you’ve learnt by being a part of the Festival are skills you can carry with you for life?

“I’ve definitely learnt skills that will carry me on later on in life.

Through the festival I’ve learnt to become a lot more assertive. There have been many times where I am put in a situation that I have to take charge or deal with people that are a lot older than me, so if it had to be one thing I have definitely become more assertive.”

 

Tell us about the Festival Family? Is it a close group? Is there a hierarchy? The festival family is a very close group. We learn from each other all the time and there definitely is a hierarchy; a healthy one that is.

It’s like the leaders are like parents and teach us so much all the time. There is also a very important channel of communication.

 

What have been some of the greatest challenges and how have you overcome them?

One of the challenges I’ve faced is dealing with people that are my age.

Most of them find it difficult to listen to someone that could be regarded as one of their own peers. I have overcome this by understanding that even though we are close in age, there is a job to do and a goal to achieve and inorder to get this done you have to be a lot more assertive.

 

What has it been like working with Fashion Leaders?

Working with Fashion leaders has been a great honour.

“I have honestly learnt so much from all of them. “I feel like the leaders have so much skills and knowledge that they can and have been pawing on to the younger fashion generation, similarly one day we will be able to pass on this knowledge to a younger group of people that share the same interests in fashion, it’s like a continuity of some sort. “

 

Who in particular have you learnt a valuable lesson from and what was that lesson?

“I have learnt so many lessons through all of this. The most important though was from Faraz Ali, I learnt that if you want something and you love doing it that much, than what people say or feel doesn’t matter.”

“All you have to do is work hard with all that you have, sacrifice, have the right support from an amazing circle of friends, be happy and trust in the lord.”You will be sure to achieve all your goals.

 

Do you see yourself as part of the fashion industry’s future?

“I definitely see myself as a part of the fashion industry in the future. “I love doing this, I love everything about it. “So I definitely see myself being more involved in the future.”

FASHION COUNCIL OF FIJI

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

 

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