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"To me, working in fashion just seemed so far our of reach."

Words by

Talia Taskin

I finished high school in 2005. Having completed my HSC, I went straight on to studying a Bachelor of Engineering (yawn). It lasted a year. 

This was followed by stints in a Bachelor of Business, a Bachelor of Arts (philosophy) and a Certificate in General Insurance. (It’s safe to say my HELP debt runs pretty deep). I also spent a decade climbing the corporate ladder with an insurance company. And this is from someone who considers themselves creative. 

But I was happy. I had shifted to Melbourne (!); landed a new job with a great insurer, team and boss; formed some beautiful friendships and I was so happy exploring my new home south of the Murray. I began rediscovering who I really was.

It wasn’t until I shifted back home to Sydney that I felt unsettled. 

There was something missing. I couldn’t tell if maybe I was in a state of constant shock – this was my old life but it felt unfamiliar. It was dizzying. I couldn’t quite comprehend how I came to feel so lost after having found myself some 800km away.

Then during one bus ride to work, I was chatting to a friend. Let’s call her Jess (I know sometimes magazines change names of people #witnessprotection?) Jess had been studying Spatial Design while working full time in finance. As we spoke, I was flicking through fashion photos on Instagram. She paused and casually said:

“Talia, you’re obsessed. Why wouldn’t you do something with your interest in fashion?” 

I laughed. Hard. In my head, working in fashion just seemed so far our of reach. 

I was 26 – too old to enter the fashion world, much less tell my family that I didn’t want to be a professional anymore. Could you imagine? Plus people in fashion are bitchy and I don’t have the tolerance for any Devil Wears Prada-esque shit.

...But I really do love Christine Centenera, could I maybe be her?

I began asking everyone’s advice. And I mean everyone. Friends, family, past students, current students, my sister’s cat’s vet’s aunt.

I now look back and think, ‘why did I ask everyone around me what I should do?’ I should have known all along this was my thing. All I had to do was believe it, but I was so stuck in this silly security bubble called a ‘day job’ that I was too dipshit afraid to do something.

So I enrolled. I began studying a Certificate III at Whitehouse Institute of Design, spending two nights a week with a tight-knit class. 

After a full day at work, a three hour class meant getting home late at night, only to wake up early again for another full day of work. It wasn’t easy but I didn’t care. 

Every time I walked into that class, tired as I was, I felt a sense of wonder and of ease. It was the very same feeling I had when I was in Melbourne. Inspired. It came in waves and sometimes I couldn’t turn it off. I learnt that I could breathe life into and practise the skills I thought I never had.

But I was miserable at work. Day in, day out, I was doing the same thing with no substance (sorry insurance folk, it’s not you, it’s me). I was living a lack lustre corporate life, looking forward to weekends and any time away from the office. 

So I left my job. Instead, I applied full time for the Bachelor of Design specialising in Creative Direction and Styling. 

If you has asked me back in in 2005 where I saw myself in 10 years, fashion would never have even crossed my mind. 

And today, if you ask me whether you should go back to study, no matter what it is, yes. Absolutely yes. Do it. You’ll never know until you’ve tried something. Hell, I’ve tried three degrees, two certificates and almost a decade in insurance. Sure a couple of things didn’t work out, but a couple did. And it’s through the journey that I learnt what I loved.

It’s funny actually. A friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago if I was enjoying the degree. My response? It makes me feel alive.

Talia Taskin is a student at Whitehouse Institute of Design. You can follow her journey at @taliataskin and see more from Whitehouse via their Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat at @Whitehouse_edu. Cover image by Angus Roberts.

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