EC: I must begin by congratulating you on seven thriving years of reigning as a fashion pioneer. You have successfully built a global stage to showcase the Australian fashion market. How does it feel to be recognized as a history-maker for your accomplishment with Fashion Palette?
SM: Thank you so much for your kind words. I created Fashion Palette to give a platform for all Australian designers to showcase and not just those who could afford to pay premium fees to be able to put their collections in-front of Buyer and Media and having run FP runway events in Australia for a few years, it was a natural progression to make New York the next FP destination. We are currently planning to launch in other countries to give our designers more exposure globally. It’s been a tough seven years and of course each event, in particular offshore, presents new challenges but this is something I thrive on. I am determined and passionate about continuing to support emerging designers especially and also offer an option to those established designers who don’t have the budget to put on their own runway event or be part of more expensive fashion productions because I wanted all talented Australian designers to have a platform to showcase.
EC: I read that you established Fashion Palette “on the back of pure passion and a strong vision?” Where did your passion for fashion begin? [Side note: Let’s be clear. I personally hate that phrase but it complemented the quote. LOL.]
SM: It all began in my early 20’s actually; I was very much a tom boy growing up. I have always had a love for art and good design and so naturally over time I began to love and appreciate fashion and its ability to allow someone to feel good and express oneself.
EC: The late fashion icon, Diana Vreeland, said that “the eye has to travel.” It’s obvious that New York is a fashion capital. But, what specifically caught your eye travel from Australia to showcase Fashion Palette?
SM: A couple of things caught my eye to showcase Australian fashion in New York. Australia is so isolated from the rest of the world and so this limited the opportunities for local brands to grow, major buyers from around the world don’t tend to travel into Australia and so I decided it would be best to take our designers to New York to open doors for their label and to survive in such a competitive field. Also, I could offer a more affordable platform than they already had in place.
EC: In your experience, are there any major differences between the Australian fashion market and that of the United States?
SM: The Australian fashion market is limited to two department stores, of which are competitors and therefore successful labels only have one option to be stocked in a major department store here, whereby the US market presents many, many growth opportunities. And of course there is the population of 22 million compared to say 300 million.
EC: I often say and teach that “when you become a person of value, influence will follow.” What would you say has been your personal element of value that has attributed to the influence you have as an individual and even as it pertains to the Fashion Palette brand?
SM: It’s my passion to see the underdog succeed. I truly want to see these young designers who work so hard on their labels to achieve success on a global scale. While we are all in business to make money, my motivation for creating and growing my company is not purely financial. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to know I’ve been, even in a small way, a part of someone’s journey to being successful in achieving their dream.
EC: Let’s talk about challenges. When you’re embarking on a venture with a one-of-a-kind concept such as yours, there is always opposition. What were some of the challenges you faced in beginning Fashion Palette?
SM: There have been many challenges from the beginning and even to this day. Let’s say that I love a challenge. Nothing makes me more determined to pursue my goal than being told it can’t be done. Not coming from a fashion background I was told I couldn’t survive in this business of fashion runway events. But I look at it as a running any successful business and having a business plan regardless of what the product is. I have staff who are so called ‘fashionistas’. I am not here to forecast next season’s trends or comment on who wore what best. My role is to support fashion talent to showcase their brands to global influencers and decision makers with the aim of securing them retail sales. Their success is my success.
EC: I’m certain that with the growth of Fashion Palette as an agency and a showcase that your function and even duties as the founder have shifted as well. What are some of the personal shifts you’ve had to make over the years in terms of fulling your duties in carrying the vision?
SM: Early on I was involved in all aspects of the runway event due mainly to a tight start up budget but also being a bit of a perfectionist, or some may call me a ‘control freak’. As FP grew and especially into the NY market I realized to let go some of my responsibilities. I guess I’ve become a more efficient boss.
EC: The fashion industry is ever evolving… and we know that’s an understatement. LOL. Having said that, what keeps your event on-trend?
SM: We continue to work with emerging labels, labels which are new and have something unique to offer buyers and consumers.
EC: Many people know Fashion Palette only to be a show during New York Fashion Week. However, the company is actually a full fashion agency. What are some of the services, operations and functions that Fashion Palette provides outside of the seasonal showcases?
SM: On-going we work with designers to whatever their current business needs may be. We may organize fashion shoots for editorial placement. We do pop up events, we offer in-house PR and branding. And of course we work on our Sydney event.
EC: Fashion Palette is respected and appreciated for its high-end aesthetic. In selecting designers to showcase during Fashion Palette NYFW, are there any direct standards that a designer must meet to be considered for your showcase?
SM: Our schedule always focuses on showcasing both established and emerging Australian fashion talent with inclusion in the New York event based on the designer’s industry skill, strength of their current seasonal collection and their potential to succeed on the international market.
EC: What can we look forward to seeing in September at Fashion Palette New York Fashion Week for the Spring/Summer ’17 Collections? Do you have any personal favorites we should be looking out for?
SM: This year we will be showcasing 2 runway shows and 1 presentation. You can expect to see the collections of some of the best Australian Swimwear and Resort designers including Sabo Luxe, BOSSA, Frankie Swimwear, Sara Bailes, Ark Swimwear, Ete Swimwear, AlphaBe the Label, Lil and Emm and Natalie Rolt as well the womenswear labels, Con Ilio, Cristahlea, Stephanie Chehade, Milanja, Homebodii, and Sui Generis. In addition to the S/S 2017 runway shows, we will be showcasing the works of Australian Jeweller, Sally Skoufis.
EC: It is clear that you have a heart to provide exposure and access for emerging and established designers. Personally, what is it that you desire for attendees to take away from the Fashion Palette experience as a whole, beyond the collections?
SM: I would love for anyone attending Fashion Palette runway to walk away feeling excited and inspired. I want them to get a taste of the Australian aesthetic and to hopefully motivate them to make the journey to our beautiful country Down Under to not only experience the fashion but also the culture and people from where this derives.
EC: Lastly, my personal brand statement is “building people for global influence” and I enjoy learning from others who have world vision. As a global influencer, what would be your advice to someone to take an idea from concept to reality on a global scale?
SM: My advice is to allow yourself to believe an idea is possible. Follow your dream… expect to fall but get up, dust yourself off and keep walking… towards that dream.