News & Analysis

QUT Creative Enterprise Australia announces six fashion entrepreneurs taking part in accelerator program

- February 18, 2016 3 MIN READ

Today QUT Creative Enterprise Australia has announced the six fashion entrepreneurs taking part in its five-month intensive accelerator program, set to kick off next week.

Anna Rooke, chief executive officer of QUT Creative Enterprise Australia, said the high quality of the applicants bodes well for the future of Australia’s $3 billion fashion industry.

“We had a terrific response from across Australia and overseas this year. This is a great sign that our Australian fashion industry continues to innovate with the changing pace of the industry. There has never been a better time to become a fashion entrepreneur; with digital technology disrupting and transforming established and emerging fashion brands, and bringing down key barriers to global opportunities.

“The impact of creative skills to the future of business in Australia cannot be over-estimated. Our creative industries in Australia are valued at more than $35 billion. Now, more than ever, Australian creative startups and entrepreneurs are holding their own within this globally US$2.25 trillion industry,” Rooke added.

The program will see participants will engage in weekly workshops, business advice from mentors, planning strategies, production and costing, sales analysis and marketing.

The concept team have strong expertise in pattern-making, sampling, grading and small run production management that can help transform creative ideas into fashion businesses. Throughout the program participants will work with other creative entrepreneurs in a shared studio space that includes all the facilities to cut, make and create.

“The intensive program encompasses critical business components including technical and development, business and finance, range development and branding, marketing and public relations,” said Rooke.

The six participants include:

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Arkie Barton of Arkie – Barton’s design aesthetic is predominantly informed and inspired by heritage and indigenous influences, with a focus on textiles and print designs.

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Natasha Lewis Honeyman of Rui – Honeyman creates textile art inspired by culture, history, nature and traditional art practices.


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Paolo Lolicata of Locilu – Lolicata makes handmade men’s and women’s accessories inspired by old world influences and her Sicilian heritage.


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Melinda Maxfield of Spacefairy – A clothing and costume brand that promotes happiness and self-expression.

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Melanie Taylor of Peach & Aubrey – Handmade inspired collection of children’s wear with simple details and fabrics.

Rosa Altadonna of Zalbah – Makes comfortable and casual pyjamas, loungewear, kaftans and accessories for professional women or working mums.

Participant Arkie Barton will be attending Melbourne Fashion Festival’s Indigenous Runway Project in March and believes that CEA’s fashion accelerator will help her to grasp and understand the financial side of starting a fashion business.

“I have so many ideas that I want to see get off the ground. I think the program is the perfect platform to make this happen,” said Barton.

“Throughout the program I will be focusing on developing my concept and developing the aesthetic of my label. My plan is to have a developed range by the end of the five months, so that with my samples, I can move into production and ultimately start approaching investors and stockists.”

The program has been operating since 2012, with graduates including Christie Murray and Hayley Elsaesser showcased at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Brands like Gail Sorronda, SOOT, Monica Tovar and Christie Millinery have been developed and received national success.

It must be noted that the five month intensive program is valued at over $3,500, per month; the cost for successful applicants is $550 per month. As such, calling the program an ‘accelerator’ is a nisnomer – as we traditionally understand accelerators in the startup space, businesses are given seed funding in exchange for equity, rather than having to pay to participate. Instead, this seems more like a straight business development program.

In any case, it will be interesting to see the participants develop over the next five months.

Image: Anna Rooke. Source: Supplied