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Tabatha Turner on zig-zagging career paths

PHOTOGRAPHER – KRISTINA YENKO
STYLIST – SINEAD HARGREAVES
HAIR AND MAKEUP – ROSE LETHO
TALENT – TABATHA TURNER
WORDS BY MAEVE KERR-CROWLEY

Charming people.

This is the final in our series, Charming People, where we dive into what expression means to four inspiring women. It is made in partnership with Pandora, celebrating a new collection of miniature Pandora Me charms, earrings and carriers designed to help you better express yourself. 

Few people you’ll come across in life will have as clear an image of themselves as Tabatha Turner.

When we met with the stylist, writer and creator a few weeks back, one of her first comments was, “I’m a very energetic person”. Though it’s a simple, almost throwaway statement, the self-assurance behind it was striking. And as we spent more time with Tabatha, that same self-assurance seemed to bleed into all her responses.

Other personal qualities Tabatha knows resolutely are that she’s fit and active, that she’s always wanted to be a fashion editor, and that she’s good at what she does.

She also says casually that she’s “not really a fashion person” but, pulling a metallic-woven suit from her bag at the same time, she undermines herself almost immediately.

Her energy and commitment, however, we believe are 100 per cent. Since finishing school, she’s held a seemingly insane number of jobs, titles and freelance positions, credited to her need to give everything a go.

Raised by parents in different sectors of the design industry, Tabatha picked up skills like knitting and sewing early. After school, she did a year of fashion design at RMIT University, before life and stress led her to take a year off and re-evaluate. One year and an internship at Fashion Journal (Hi!) later, she switched gears and studied professional communications.

This led her to an internship at Russh, which led to an unexpected year living in Sydney and soaking up beachside fitness culture, which led to a brief stint producing a beauty website, which finally led back to Melbourne, where’s she currently figuring out what her next big move might be.

Oh, and somewhere in there she spent a hot second working with Ellery in Paris during Couture Week. “I just contacted them and said, ‘Look, I’m going be in Paris, and I’d love to just help out.’” See, so simple.

Though Tabatha doesn’t see herself as a ‘fashion person’ – due in part to her distaste for influencer culture and love of comfort, cardigans and baggy jeans – she’s still smitten with the industry itself.

“I guess I’m obsessed with the creativity of it,” she explains. “Who you can work with, all the collaboration you can do.”

But Tabatha’s zig-zagging professional pathway is proof that even self-assured, goal-oriented people struggle with the messy process of figuring it all out. She started her design course largely because she got in, and then felt like she had to follow through.

She changed degrees because she realised there was a better way to get where she wanted to go, and she walked away from her beauty producing gig — the first job she’d ever said no to in her life — because she wasn’t gelling with her editor.

Right now, Tabatha is walking the same precarious tightrope that a lot of creatives have crossed (or fallen from) before her. After taking a full-time job creating campaigns for a brand, she admits to missing the autonomy that came with freelancing. It’s a modern dilemma, weighing up job security versus creative freedom, and one that seems to have no clear answer.

“It’s hard to get out of that headspace, that I’m not building something for me because I’m creating someone else’s dream,” she says. “But, at the same time, I’m learning at such a fast rate being in that atmosphere. Everyone is much older and has more experience. When you’re learning all this stuff, you really can’t compare it to freelancing.” 

Fighting against that balance has led Tabatha into some hot water in the past. While taking time off from uni, she came down with a case of meningococcal that made her reassess her priorities. She’s had to find ways to put taking care of herself first again, including seeing a practitioner of Chinese medicine so frequently that he’s “practically [her] best friend”.

The same doctor recently told her that she’d stopped doing something that she needed to pick up again. Baffled by this vaguely clairvoyant advice, she started an inventory of past activities she no longer had time for. Admittedly, she doesn’t swim or cook as much as she used to, but what she’d really let slip were her creative hobbies.

So, her new philosophy involves making time for creative projects, even if they (*shudder*) won’t get her anywhere in her career.

This forced relaxation highlights an imperative that many creatives experience, but aren’t always willing to prioritise. Our obsession with ‘the grind’ means that we’re always thinking about what to do next, or whether we’re wasting our precious time.

Reflecting on that pervasive self-pressure, Tabatha says, “I’ve been beating myself up all year like, ‘What’s next? What’s next?’

“I don’t know what’s next. I’ve always had such a plan and working where I am now has sort of halted my plans, so it’s been really bugging me.

“But now I think, ‘oh my god, just take it one step at a time’.”

Tabatha wears bracelets, charms and earrings from the Pandora Me collection, which is now available at Pandora stores and online. Browse and shop the full collection here and read about our other Charming People here.

pandora.net


Styling credits

LOOK ONE
ACNE STUDIOS
TOP AND PANTS, MODEL’S OWN SHOES, PANDORA ME BRACELETS, CHARMS AND EARRINGS
LOOK TWO
SCANLAN THEODORE
SUIT, MODEL’S OWN SHOES, PANDORA ME BRACELETS, CHARMS AND EARRINGS
LOOK THREE
GANNI
TOP, MODEL’S OWN JEANS AND SHOES, PANDORA ME BRACELETS, CHARMS AND EARRINGS
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