Meet Shae, Melbourne School of Fashion alum and most recently known for her role at Spell and the Gypsy Collective as Product Category Manager in Byron. We picked her brain to find out all the tips and tricks about working in the fashion industry and pursuing your passions.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Shae and I’ve been working in the fashion industry for the past 10 years in Product Development and Buying roles. I love being creative, designing innovative product ranges and running all aspects of design and buying from initial concept to finished product. I have been living in Byron Bay for the past eighteen months and love being outdoors, whether that be at the beach or chasing waterfalls on hiking tracks. I’m so passionate about self-care, self-expression, and empowering women to chase their dreams. I love leading and inspiring women on their individual journeys.
What did you love most about studying at MSF?
I completed a Certificate IV in Fashion Business. What I loved most about this was it allowed me to be introduced into all different aspects of fashion giving a great snapshot and insight into what was involved in each area and I was able to identify where my direct passion was in the fashion industry. I also loved the exposure we had to professionals in the industry who gave invaluable access to their knowledge and experience.
Tell us a bit about your work as a buyer. Could you tell us what a day in your life looks like in this role? What do you love most about working in buying and category management?
As a Category Product Manager, a day in the life is ever-changing and that is what I love about the role—no two days are the same! I love that I can come in and be creative and feel inspired every day; working in a fast paced environment really ignites me!
Typically my day consists of meeting with the creative director to work through designs and products for each range and season. From there, I liaise with both production and quality assurance technical teams to facilitate both actioning the designs as well as ensuring we can work this into our production timeline. I will then review budgets with our sales manager and then liaise directly with overseas suppliers. I also ensure that I meet with my direct team to go over priorities for the day as well as assist and support where necessary.
Tell us a bit about your career history.
I actually got my first job through MSF, so I will always be so grateful that I completed my training there. It holds a special place in my heart!! I was put in contact with the Marketing and Sales manager from the Just Group for a marketing project and I took that opportunity to stay in contact after I completed my course—persistence pays off! After doing some work experience there, I was able to secure a full time position.
I have worked in the buying and product channel in the fashion industry for just over 10 years. My first role started with Portmans and then I moved to Forever New, working with their international product team, which gave me great insights into the international market. From there, I took a role with Cotton On in their buying team, which was a great, diverse, and global company to work for. I then moved to Myer as Buyer and Product Manager, heading up a multimillion-dollar brand before making a sea change to Byron Bay. I was lucky to secure a role at Spell and the Gypsy Collective, where I worked as Global Wholesale Manager and then most recently Category Product Manager.
Highlights of my career definitely include running a successful multimillion-dollar brand as well as being able to travel internationally on buying and sourcing trips. I’m also so proud to be working for Spell and the Gypsy Collective fashion label—such an inspiring brand with a strong brand aesthetic of sustainability and empowering women. It was amazing to go to work every day in this environment.
What's your top tip to maintain a good work-life balance?
For me, work-life balance is so important and something that I have made a top priority in my life. Everybody works differently, so you need to find what works best for you. For me personally, I know that I am super productive in the mornings and have stronger output. Knowing this allows me to work flexible hours to support this. I get my energy from my morning routine of exercising and meditating—fuelling my body and mind so that I can get the best out of myself everyday. It's also important for me to be able to switch off in the evenings, so I set the boundaries to not be on my devices after a certain time; this allows me to re-energise for the next day. Self care, health, and wellbeing are vital in staying productive. Ask yourself: what fills you up?!
What are your tips for taking on new roles throughout your career?
I always do my research when taking a new role with a company—it’s so important to me to work for someone who has strong brand ethics and values that I believe in. I’ve moved a couple of times in my career so far and knowing that I am working for a company whose values match mine really helps to make the transition a smooth one.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your career path?
Believe in yourself and don’t lose sight of your dreams. It’s ok to dream big! Be willing to work hard from the ground up and take every experience as an opportunity to learn and gain valuable knowledge and experience. The fashion industry can be tough and is not for the faint-hearted; however, in saying that, it is also one of the most rewarding feelings when you see your designs come to life and being worn on the streets. If you are really passionate about being in this industry, remember that tenacity and persistence pays off! If you are driven and have a really clear, defined goal of what you want and you don’t give up, you will achieve your dream!
What's the best piece of advice you've been given during your career?
Treat everyone you meet with respect as every person has the potential to guide you to a new opportunity—you never know where you might end up! It’s also so important to have respect and integrity in the way you treat people—those who lead inspire us!