Meet your Maker
Meet your Maker
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Meet your Maker

In honour of ECA Week 2021, we are taking the opportunity to celebrate our industry, businesses and of course the talented and hardworking garment workers who make our textiles, clothes and footwear.

Meet our Senior Pattern Maker, Stephanie T.

Steph has been with Workwear Group for 10 years and she is part of our extraordinary internal garment team that brings to life each and every garment we create for our client uniforms. We took this opportunity to talk to Steph and get to know her and her journey and what ECA Week means to Australian workers. 

WWG: Tell us about your career journey.

Stephanie: My first job in the rag trade was straight after finishing year 12. I decided that I wanted to work full-time while studying part-time at night (2-3 days a week).

I opened up the yellow pages and wrote down all the local manufacturers in Melbourne. Most of the ones I went to were located around Flinders Lane. So it was a train trip into the city and just walking around. No interviews were booked. I just went door to door hoping to get a job, and I managed to land a job that day.

It was a small manufacturer which made clothes for Sportsgirl and a few other labels. I worked as a junior cutter and part of my job also was to buy thread/buttons/lining etc. I also used to take finished production garments to Sportsgirl Head Office, dragging a rack of clothes down Flinders Lane to the Bourke Street Head Office. Flinders Lane back then had so many local clothing companies, manufacturers, design houses, fabric stores and haberdasheries for local makers.

Flinders Lane 1956 - Warehouses

After working for 1 year I decided to go back to school full-time to finish my clothing certificate course at Box Hill Tafe. After I finished Tafe, I took the yellow pages out again and went door to door asking for work. I was very lucky to be offered a job at a fantastic ladies fashion company. It was run by a family which I respected so much. I loved working there. I was there around 28-years. I learned a lot there and I had good role models. One of the main managers was constantly looking of ways to improve procedures/techniques etc. it was never at a standstill.

In the beginning, all manufacturing was local. Pattern making, specs, cutting was all manual. There was cardboard everywhere. Then we were introduced to computers and I started learning to grade patterns on the computer. Not too long after this, we started manufacturing in China. At the beginning we were plotting patterns and markers to send to China, then eventually it was all sent electronically.

Sadly bit by bit our local clothing manufacturers were running out of work and eventually closing down. This was a very sad time. Even the company I worked for closed down eventually. I then got my job at WWG (previously Pacific Brands). I have now been here 10 years. My experience at WWG has been very positive. I am constantly being challenged and you get to learn a lot working with a variety of designers. 

WWG: What do you enjoy the most about your role?

Stephanie: At first I was very hesitant to accept a job from NNT Uniforms. I am so grateful to the lovely lady who interviewed me talked me into it. I thought it might be boring. It is anything other than boring. I can't even remember the last time I was bored and not challenged.

I was lucky to have worked with Carla Zampatti. I was able to visit her office met her pattern maker and have even been to their sample room. Carla was a big supporter of local manufacturing.

Westpac by Carla Zampatti & WWGU

I have been lucky enough to work with, and meet Lisa Ho and Camilla & Marc. Fittings with outside designers have been great. I have learned so much and taken on board a lot. You can never stop learning.

Our in-house designers are also great to work with. They have all come from various different companies so their knowledge is so diverse and is shared amongst the team. I work with a great manager who also has a lot of knowledge and I value bouncing off ideas with him along with our wonderful garment techs and also our other wonderful pattern maker.

The added benefit of working at WWG is that we have our own sample room. We are able to make in-house samples and trial samples very fast. We have a wonderful sample room manager, who is very hands on deck when needed, along with 2 skilled machinists.

Luan - WWG Machinist

WWG: Why is it important to support Australian business/workers?

Stephanie: It is very important to support Australian businesses and workers. I understand manufacturing might need to be made overseas, but keeping as much as possible of other roles in Australia is important. Otherwise, you end up losing skilled people. People will not want to study in industries where work is limited. It’s good for our economy to support Australian Made and keep as many roles possible here.

WWG: Have you seen a change in the industry over the last 5-10 years?

Stephanie: I have noticed that the fashion industry has shrunk. Companies are reducing staff or sadly closing down. Fortunately, I don’t see the Uniform business slowing down. There will always be a need for healthcare, defence and essential service uniforms.

With the reduction in staff numbers, roles within a company are having to evolve and change to still meet the demand. Even one of our suppliers has reduced from a large city office to the remaining staff work from home.

WWG: What do you believe is important for you and your peers in your industry?

Stephanie: First of all, workers’ rights are important. That should be a given for any industry. I appreciate a safe environment, a comfortable environment. It’s important to keep up with the latest technology, it helps to make your work smarter not harder. From sewing machines to cad systems, software and processes.

WWG: What does an accreditation like ECA mean to you?
I think it’s great. It means to me that WWG is dedicated to keeping jobs in Australia.




#ECAWeek2021

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