Last week I got a chance to have a chat with Julia Haselhorst, the Strategic Manager of the Textile & Fashion Hub, about the gem that is the “Hub” and the role it plays to support small and medium Australian businesses and emerging designers in such a competitive industry.
1) What exactly is the Hub initiative and how is it how does it support emerging designers and small businesses?
The Textile & Fashion Hub is a project that was initiated by the Council of Textiles and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA) in collaboration with Kangan Institute. It works through AusIndustry Federal funding. The Hub is a project in response to helping small to medium TCF businesses grow and thrive in their industry. It gives them access to cutting edge equipment, knowledgeworkshops, resources and experience.
2) Can you tell us a bit about the background behind the creation of the Hub and how it came to be?
The Hub is fairly new and has only been operating since the beginning of April. There has been a lot of work done on what we wanted it to look like and what we wanted it to have. We are still at the very early stages of making it come together.
Jo-Ann Kellock is the CEO of the TFIA and it was very much her vision in response to seeing what the industry needed; a network to strengthen small businesses. They are out there by themselves and there was not much exchange with like-minded people in the industry so we wanted to build confidence and create a platform for small to medium businesses in the fashion and textile industry to connect and learn from each other.
It was pretty much what Jo saw and it was her hands-on solution to all of the problems SMEs are faced with. She found someone at Kangan Institute who was willing to support the idea. We’ve chosen all the equipment and structured all the content pretty much and Kangan runs the logistics of the booking times and accesses the functionality of the Hub.
It was very much about addressing the standards and what the industry feels is needed. As a Hub Registrant you get access to the Hub’s activities including subsidised costs for the technicians of the machinery. Same with workshops, usually they are only between $30-50, which just covers the Hub’s hard costs.
3) What facilities does the Hub offer and how can it benefit its participants?
The Textile & Fashion Hub is a national network not only about the physical building itself. Step one is offering what you get through the physical space, which houses the machinery and equipment. We have in the Hub technology available for production sampling that includes a Shima Seiki wholegarment knitting machine, Stoll flat bed knitting machine and a Santoni seamless knitting machine (coming soon). We also have digital garment printers, pattern scanners, a fully equipped CAD room that is connected to a 3D body scanner that can be used to determine sizing standards and is helpful in understanding your body group and knowing your customers. We’ve also made available for hire the seminar rooms, production rooms, show rooms and different resource libraries for our clients. These machines and facilities were introduced to help make life easier for our Registrants and also cuts down time and cost.
We also have a network of clusters operating around the Hub. They are made up of industry professionals that are experienced in the specific areas. They go out and investigate and they make recommendations on needs especially with equipment and any training that is in strong demand in the industry. They have meetings and this is where they discuss these needs and problems in the industry and finds ways as a team to address them.
Through the national network we are also connected to other facilities around Australia. We have a partnership with Curtain University in Western Australia, Canberra Institute of Technology, and we also have strong connections with Sydney such as our Export Cluster that concentrates on export and trend forecasting.
We try and arrange activity based on daily themes such as Digital Mondays; Business Tuesdays and Artisan Wednesdays and so on which helps Registrnats learn about all aspects of the industry and everything that can help them thrive in the industry.
4) How can you get access to this amazing “Hub”? How much would it cost?
Basically all you need to do is register, pay $50 a year as a registration fee and what we offer for that is two free seminars at the Hub, access to all the equipment, workshops and also you will receive a reduced rate on any events run at the Hub. It’s very simple; you can register your business at the TFIA website. As a Hub Registrant you will have the resources to find what you’re looking for really quickly. It gives a platform to meet others in the industry and learn from each other and it can also really help promote your business.
5) What qualities/ requirements do you have to have to register?
Once again it’s very simple, all you need is an ABN number because this is more of an initiative to support small to medium businesses and really just be related and active in the textile & fashion industry in some way or another, especially operating in the clothing and footwear industry.
6) I hear you are working with Craft Cubed Festival this year – Can you tell us a bit more about this collaboration and what it entitles?
Craft Victoria is a liked minded organisation so we collaborated with them for the Craft Cubed Festival this year. We expanded this to very fashion focused people and selected fashion-focused artisans to participate. We set up exhibitions and galleries so people could get an idea of how designers make their clothes. You were able to get an insight to how the designers and shoemakers work; their surroundings and their studios.
There’s a big demand for understanding the product and knowing the designer and seeing how things are put together, and so we’re just catering for this demand with this collaboration with the festival. It’s about bringing awareness to how these businesses work.
7) What other exciting upcoming events/ collaborations do you have planned for the Hub in the next coming months?
We have a social media strategies seminar series coming up where each week we talk about different platforms of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram etc. We’re also holding a Footwear Workshop and really trying to get people involved in quality control and production. Been
We have lots of really exciting and interesting events coming up. The best way is to follow TFIA on Facebook where we will notify you of any upcoming events and any new equipment available.
9) So I understand you guys have taken advantage of the Smart phone and have created a TFIA app? What exactly does the app do and how is it useful for its members?
The App has been developed as an online sourcing tool where once you have registeredyou are welcome to fill out your company details, what you do and your area of expertise and this will be added to an industry directory. This app can assist you to find other people in the industry in a specific field very quickly. The fashion a industry often lacks transparency, so this app is a technology that helps you find good people in the industry that are good operators and that have been recommended by us.
This app can help you find anyone from knitters, laser cutters, to pattern makers. Anyone that has a product or skill to offer can be found. It also allows you to find out who’s doing what such as suppliers, sellers, buyers and it’s something that we constantly update as more and more people are coming on board.
10) I know the Hub is fairly new, but how has the response been to this initiative? Was it what you expected?
We’ve had an enormous response, we’ve been very busy with everything
its hard to put in numbers, there’s probably 200 people involved in the clusters
and there’s been so many connections.
There has been huge involvement, many queries and very positive feedback on workshops and events we’ve been running. It’s just a very great way to find solutions with like-minded people and have fun doing it.
11) Was there anything else you would like our readers to know?
It’ll really just be great for anyone to come on board and make it their platform. We’d love everyone to spread the word and come in and enjoy the facilities we have available at the Hub.