Meet the Fijian Fashion Festival Event Manager

Meet Sydel Whippy the events manager for the Fijian Fashion Festival. The much anticipated fashion festival is scheduled for June 1 and 2 at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva. Sydel,
17 Feb 2018 11:00
Meet the Fijian Fashion Festival Event Manager
Fijian Fashion Festival events manager

Meet Sydel Whippy the events manager for the Fijian Fashion Festival.

The much anticipated fashion festival is scheduled for June 1 and 2 at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva.

Sydel, as she is called by her close circle of friends, is one of the key people in the Fijian Fashion Festival, which is the driver of the fashion industry’s future, through the Fashion Council of Fiji.

The Fashion Council is the national peak industry body for the entire fashion industry which is comprised of designers, photographers, stylists, hair and makeup. Also for PR, stage and lighting, events, creative directors, writers, textile designers, graphic artists, bloggers, seamstresses, and tailors.

So the Fijian Fashion Festival is truly Fiji’s first not-for-profit, industry owned, trade and consumer fashion platform.

The purpose of the Festival is in line with the goals of the Council, which is to develop Small Medium Enterprises in the creative sector. In order to create creative opportunities for Fijians, and also to establish Suva as the global centre for Pacific fashion.

The Festival is also at the centre of plans to establish a Design District in Suva in the very near future.

The show is particularly exciting because it’s a new format. The Friday and Saturday night shows are group shows of up to 10 designers each night showing collections of up to 15 pieces each.

Saturday during the day, three designers will take up the challenge of presenting individual shows.

These shows will be completely styled to their aesthetic and branding.

The show space will be transformed in order to transport the viewer of the show into the mind of the designer.

The public relations and events team will be completely at their disposal for their individual show where they can show a full collection of 45-60 pieces.

This is a first for Fiji, and the organisers hope to expand this moving forward.

Sydel said: “To all the fashion industry stakeholders – designers, models, photographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, event organisers, sound, lighting, entertainers, venue providers, journalists, musicians and so many more!!

“We at the Fijian Fashion Festival hope to bring you the opportunity and provide the platform to grow your business and make us Fijians proud!

“See you all at the Fijian Fashion Festival June 1 and 2 at the Grand Pacific Hotel.”

Below are excerpts of an interview with Sydel:


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Lami Town and went to school at Veiuto Primary then on to Suva Grammar School to Form 4 then St Joseph’s Secondary School for Form 5 and 6.

My dad was a boat builder and was handed down the boat building business from his grandfather a famous timber boat builder Charles Whippy.

After the timber boat building business started to become too expensive to run in the late 80’s, my parents started a local shipping business.

The 50 passenger vessel, MV Gurawa serviced the island of Kadavu and did private charters at times.

They are both retired now and in their 70’s.


Was there any specific event growing up that shaped the way you are today?

Yes my upbringing shaped me in to the way I am today. My mother was very strict and organised (she still is) and my dad was a successful business man.

Representing Fiji in Outrigger Canoeing since 1991 to 2013 also played a huge role in teaching me leadership, team work, honesty and patriotism.


Do you have children and what do they do?

Yes I have one son, Curtis who is now attending Foundation Science at the University of the South Pacific in Suva.


What was your first job and did you enjoy it?

Working for the Pacific Energy Development Programme under Peter Johnston and Anesi Nand at the old Burns Philp Building in Suva in 1990 as an office assistant. I then moved to ANZ Bank International Department in 1991 to work as a data input clerk.

Absolutely as it was exciting getting a pay check at the end of each week! Especially when you are 19 years old.


When did you decide you wanted to venture into doing your own business and your interest in events management?

In 2009 after working in Nadi and being away from my family. I started my sole proprietorship business in 2012, it’s called Eventhouse.

After doing a security conference in Tonga in 2009 and getting excellent feedback on my work and organisation skills I developed my interest in events management. Also development of my business network at this time gave me confidence to start my own business.


What are some of the highlights of your career?

Aside from building my excellent network of friends and business associates, the highlights would be the experience, knowledge and skills I gained from working in the corporate industry, NGO’s and small business sector which have moulded me into who I am today.


The Chairman of the Fashion Council of Fiji, Faraz Ali, has been quoted a number of times saying that you’re the “best in the business”. How do you feel about this?

Hahaha, well that’s his personal opinion. I feel great and try my best to live up to his expectations and deliver to the best of my abilities for the inaugural Fijian Fashion Festival


What has it been like working on the Fijian Fashion Festival?

It’s been great, exciting, challenging and rewarding especially when things are coming together so quickly and our sponsors and media partners are extremely supportive!


What do you hope to achieve through your work with the Festival and what do you enjoy most about it?

I want to work with the Trustees of the Fijian Fashion Festival to help them achieve their vision which is to grow the small medium enterprise that make up the ecosystem of the fashion industry here in Fiji.

The challenges, the team work and most of all the opportunities we will be providing to the fashion industry stakeholders!


What do you like to do outside of work?

Outrigger canoeing was my life for over 20 years. This took up most of my time outside of work.


What advice can give to young people wanting to enter your field of work?

Believe in yourself, never say “I can’t”, and take on the challenge as the sky is the limit! Life is short, make the most of it.


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