Breaking Barriers Down, Fashioning Up A Career

Dihlia Teuru is only 24 but her success in the fashion industry is testament to the wisdom of her advice to school leavers - “Listen to your gut” and “Take a risk”.

Dihlia Teuru is only 24 but her success in the fashion industry is a testament to the wisdom of her advice to school leavers - “Listen to your gut” and “Take a risk”.

“Sometimes it won’t work out but don’t let that get you down,” she says.

Although her parents wanted her to study early childhood education (ECE), Dihlia applied for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Fashion Design) and continued with her Honours at Whitecliffe.

“At school I saw fashion as more of a hobby; I didn’t see it as a career option, but my friends saw potential in me,” she says. “And something in my gut said, you can do this.”

One year on from graduating, Dihlia has found “the perfect job” working for The Carpenter’s Daughter, a New Zealand plus-size designer brand.

“Being a bigger woman myself, I wanted to work in the plus-size world,” she says. “I wanted to break barriers and take a risk.”

The Founder of the company, Caroline Marr, contacted Dihlia after seeing her plus-size Honours collection at the annual Whitecliffe fashion show. She had interned at the company, so she knew she liked the ethos of the company, and the people.

“Caroline has been a big part of my success; I don’t think I’d be here without her.”

As well as designing clothes, Dihlia is the assistant manager for the store in Auckland, a stylist and model, creates social media content for the company and looks after some of the back-end operations of their online store.

“Every day is different, which is great, and I learn something new every day.”

The one challenge of the job is explaining to people why they should buy New Zealand made clothing, which is more expensive than chain store garments. Dihlia suggests they watch The True Cost, a documentary exploring the impact of fast fashion on people and the planet.

“It’s the perfect documentary if people want to know the true cost of fast fashion.”

In Year 13 at Edgewater College in Auckland, Dihlia studied English, Maths, Textiles, Media Studies, Early Childhood and Food Technology. While Textiles taught her the basics of sewing, which was helpful, Dihlia says English and Maths were crucial.

“Maths allowed me to do numbers, and English taught me how to write creative stories for my collections.”

Dihlia loved her time at Whitecliffe. “I was stimulated by so many creative people and so many creative minds. “The energy was very captivating and vibrant!”

Before enrolling in her degree, Dihlia did a Certificate in Arts + Design, a semester-long programme which concentrates on developing a portfolio for application to on-going study at Whitecliffe, or elsewhere.

“This really helped me figure out that fashion was for me before jumping into the degree,” she says.

Article written by Sara Carbery from Leaving School Magazine.

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