3 Oct 2017
She has worked for a high-end fashion house, started her own business Wolff & Bone Bridal, and has her collection stocked in a popular boutique in the United Kingdom. But despite having an undeniable talent, a disheartening experience at the TAFE she attended in Sydney nearly saw Teigan quit fashion design before her career had even begun.
“I’ve always been more artistic than academic. I never wanted to go to university—I always knew TAFE would be the better option for me. So I dropped maths in high school and when I had to pick up a TAFE course to graduate, I chose fashion design,” explained Teigan.
“The teachers encouraged me to do it as a diploma but I ended up just going for a certificate. Sydney is such a competitive market and the teachers down there weren’t really accepting if you wanted to do something commercial—they were more into avant-garde and runway couture.”
“It was a case of ‘don’t design what you want, design what we want’, and I just wasn’t into that. So after I finished it, I took a year’s break thinking it wasn’t for me. Then I met Amanda.”
Having recently moved to the Sunshine Coast, Teigan was introduced through family friends to Amanda Knights, a fashion teacher from TAFE Queensland’s Mooloolaba campus who convinced her to give fashion another try. It was a decision that Teigan says ignited her passion and ultimately helped kick start her career.
“I liked that I could cater to what I wanted to do. We obviously had to learn the fundamentals like sewing, and we still had to do what they wanted us to do, but in the second year we could start to twist what we were learning and being assessed on towards what we were interested in,” said Teigan.
“I remember we did a bustier sample exercise and I actually made that into a wedding dress, so there were different ways you could make the projects your own while ticking off what you needed to learn.”
It was during her time in this course that Teigan discovered her niche in designing bridal gowns. After being approached to design and make a formal dress, Teigan found herself with requests for bridal gowns, and each was a challenge she loved.
“I love meeting with the brides,” she said.
“You’re not just making a garment, you’re making something for a particular person for their dream wedding and they are allowing you to be a part of their special day. It’s not just a little part of their wedding either, it’s a feature. It’s something many girls look forward to their whole lives.”
Teigan’s hard work and creative talent was recognised when she was awarded a three-month paid internship at London fashion house Karl Donoghue as part of their annual awards.
“I left for London in April and I met Karl Donoghue and worked for him, which was a really eye-opening experience. You’re there to learn everything you can, but I think it was a little bit different for me because he knew I was coming back to run my own business, so he helped me see what’s involved in that process,” said Teigan.
“When my three months ended, they extended my contract for another month. Then when that ended they offered me a permanent role, but I had to say no. I knew about the shop and I always knew I wanted to run my own business.”
While Teigan says she struggled with the decision, she’s glad she was brave enough to follow her dream.
“It killed me having to say goodbye because I made the best friends with people I worked with. But I have fond memories that will last forever from that experience.”
“I had Karl tell me that he thought I would make a good business owner and that I had what it takes to make it in the field, so that kind of settled any worries that I had about whether or not it was going to work. I think you always have a bit of doubt in your head, but you’ve got to back yourself and I’m glad I did.”
On Saturday, 23 September—less than a month after returning from her adventure in London—Teigan opened the doors to Wolff & Bone Bridal, a boutique where brides can try on sample-sizes of her collection or enquire about a custom design, and have their gowns made-to-measure. While the business itself has been operating for nearly a year and her collection has been picked up by popular UK boutique La Bespoke, the store is a huge step up for Teigan. Though there has been plenty of blood, sweat and tears getting to this point, Teigan could not be happier.
“The hardest part is all the hours you put into it and the injuries you get from needle pricks and sequinning all the dresses,” she laughs.
“There are so many man hours behind it that no one sees, but that’s what I love most about it. You put in all this hard work and what you make is such a raw product of yourself. You’re putting a piece of yourself out there for everyone to judge and it will either work or it won’t.”
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