loading
drag

How I Got Here: Clothing The Gaps’ Head of Marketing on making a change and finding your purpose

IMAGE VIA @SIANNACATULLO/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“Reflect on your purpose. What change do you want to make in the world?”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?


Looking for a new 9 to 5? Head to our Careers page for new listings daily. 


Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

While Sianna Catullo’s career paths may have changed over the years, her purpose has remained unwavering. As a proud Narungga woman, she was driven to use her career to elevate the voices of Aboriginal people. Sianna’s work experience started at Spark Health, where she helped deliver health programs to the Aboriginal community.

In order to generate more funding, Sianna created a successful line of merch – which quickly transformed into a popular streetwear label and non-for-profit, Clothing The Gaps. The secret to her success? Passion, purpose and the drive to make a change. Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title?

My official job title is Head of Brand and Marketing at Clothing The Gaps. Being in a small business, I often find myself working across A LOT of areas! My day is usually spent coming up with marketing ideas, campaigns and designs; creating content and updating our website and socials.

We use our platform to educate, so I spend a lot of time creating these resources through mediums like video or photos. I’m responsible for the brand voice, our image and most importantly, how we make people feel.

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder?

I have been with Clothing The Gaps from the very beginning. Before we had a fashion brand, I worked for an Aboriginal health promotion business called Spark Health Australia and I was Laura and Sarah’s (co-founders) first-ever hire. Spark Health ran health and wellbeing programs for the Victorian Aboriginal community, with the aim to add years to Aboriginal lives.

I was studying Health Science (majoring in public health) at the time and wanted practical work experience to give me more of an idea of what I wanted to do post-study. I volunteered for six months until I was offered casual work while I continue to study.

I didn’t know what I wanted to be doing after my degree, but I knew I was passionate about working with mob (Aboriginal people) and supporting our community in being the best versions of themselves. I’ve seen the negative outcomes too many times when my family didn’t look after their health – physically, mentally and spiritually – and I wanted to be part of the change.

As well as delivering health programs to the Aboriginal community, Spark Health started to sell merch with the long-term goal of being self-funded, self-determining and free from government funding and control.

A year after joining Spark Health, we put more focus on growing the clothing brand. We rebranded to a streetwear label and invited non-Indigenous people on this journey to purchase clothes, celebrate Aboriginal culture and support Aboriginal causes. We wanted to unite people through fashion and a cause.

I played a crucial role in building the Clothing The Gaps label and I really enjoyed this work. My job went from being a Health Promotion Project Officer to Chief Creative Officer and working behind-the-scenes in growing the brand.

It was scary taking on a role like that with no experience, but when people started buying our products, I knew I was on the right track. I was super passionate about the brand and its purpose to reinvest in impact for social change, promote equity and add years to Aboriginal peoples’ lives. It aligned with my purpose.

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular?

When I first started, I was constantly comparing myself and our brand to others. I stressed and lost sleep over our Instagram aesthetic (yes, really). In reality, people didn’t follow us because we looked good, people supported us because of our purpose! It took me a while to understand that as long as our socials reflect our purpose and our ethics, I’m doing a good job.

I also spent so much time and energy on photoshoots being aesthetically perfect. While that’s important to a degree, it’s more engaging to be transparent and share the reality of our day-to-day lives.

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role?

I think it’s important to recognise that the Clothing The Gaps team didn’t have any experience in business, fashion or marketing before starting the brand – but here we are leading one of the biggest Aboriginal social enterprise labels! It’s exciting and reassuring to know that you don’t have to know everything to start something.

Our team is made up predominately of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members. Our personal and collective experiences as Indigenous people help our work because we are part of the community, part of the conversations and we feel the struggles. We have good insights into what mob want to wear and what issues we should elevate.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Sianna Catullo (@siannacatullo)


What’s the best part about your role?

The best part of my role is I get to work with amazing mob (Aboriginal people) every day! I get to celebrate them, share their stories and use our platform to educate and make noise about issues impacting Indigenous people.

I am passionate about elevating the voices of the Aboriginal people. I’m motivated to see mob writing their own narratives and sharing positive stories instead of the negative commentary we often see in mainstream media. In my role, I get to connect with strong, resilient, amazing Indigenous people and it means so much to me that I get to learn from them.

What would surprise people about your role?

Our social media presence gives the impression that we’re a pretty big brand. In reality, it’s the total opposite – we’re still very small compared to our competitors. I take on roles that would traditionally be shared among multiple people in bigger companies.

I’m not complaining – it means I’m never bored! It also means I have experience in working in a small team and running an online and physical store.

What skills have served you well in your industry?

My bravery, my straightforward communication style and my passion! Feeling comfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions has allowed me to be in the position I’m in today. Not all my ideas land, but it’s super important to the team that we create a safe space where all our voices are heard and respected.

Passion and being able to do what I love for work is what motivates me. That’s what makes me wake up every day and want to work my moom (butt) off.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day?

The advice I’d give to someone who wants to be in fashion is to give things a go. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things. If you’re asked to take part in something you might not feel 100 per cent confident in, trust your peers! They’re not going to ask you to do a task they don’t think you’re capable of. I’ve grown the most when I’ve said yes. It’s okay to be scared – it’s scary because you care.

What about a practical tip?

Reflect on your purpose. What change do you want to make in the world? A change can be as small as being a good role model, or as large as ending systemic racism. Knowing what lights the fire in your belly will get you places!

Ask yourself – does your work align with your values? Does it align with your purpose? The reality is that we spend most of our lives working… so find something you LOVE and it’ll drive you to challenge yourself and the world around you.

Check out Clothing that Gaps here and follow Sianna here.

Lazy Loading