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Daughter follows mother into EIT fashion programme – 20 years later

When single-mother Annette Libby completed her Introduction to Fashion Certificate at EIT in 2000, little did she realise that more than 20 years later her daughter Amber would be studying fashion at EIT as well.

Annette, 50, says there is a slight difference between her qualification and what Amber is doing now. “Back then it was an introduction, so we did one year and then you would still have to go somewhere else and complete a three-year qualification. It is different now.”

“I’d always had a passion for sewing and my mother was a great sewer, so I decided to just reinforce a hobby and maybe make an income from it.”

Her 19-year-old daughter, Amber, completed the NZ Diploma in Fashion [Level 5] and is continuing on towards her Bachelor of Creative Practice (Fashion), which will take her another two years to get.

Having worked as a gardener for many years, Annette was able to do the fashion programme thanks to a grant from WINZ, travelling up from Waipawa each day to attend classes on EIT’s Hawke’s Bay Campus in Taradale.

Annette says that once she had finished the one-year Introduction to Fashion Certificate she did not have any opportunities to study further but has used the skills she acquired to continue sewing and clothes making on the side. With a part-time job as a Postie, Annette spends her spare time making clothes for another daughter, Ruby, and granddaughter, Naomi.

She does have a hankering to get a degree like her daughter but is not sure when that opportunity will arise.

“After watching what Amber's been doing and helping her with a fashion show last year, I would love to go back to EIT. They welcome any age group and also any skill. It's always been that way and I feel everybody's very much accepted. It is a really great learning environment.” 

Amber is discovering that as well and really enjoyed her first year, even if initially she did not see herself entering the fashion industry.

“I originally wasn't going to do fashion at all. I was going to be a plumber, but I soon realised it was not for me. I decided to do something that I actually enjoy – fashion, and it’s one of the best decisions I've probably made.”

She had always enjoyed fashion growing up and her mother had inspired her as well, but the idea of “making good money” saw her undertake a gateway programme into plumbing while at high school.

Now she is back doing what she loves – sewing. Her aim is to work in the fashion industry, but to also build up her own line on the side.

The highlight of the programme for Amber last year was the fashion show she was required to design for. Her theme was Mythical Creatures, and her fashion style was Hippie Boho, but it was her choice of models that rounded things off – her mother Annette and her twin sister, Maci, who is a designer.

“I just meshed my theme and fashion style together and out came my garments. I wasn't originally going to use my mum or my sister as models, but I thought it would be really nice if I had this little family thing going on. It just all came together.”

Amber has no doubt that she is in the right place at EIT.

“I love it. I never really liked the idea of going to university, and this is close to home, the class sizes are great, and the lecturers really help us.”

Living in Waipawa with mum Annette means it is a long commute to class for Amber, but she breaks it up by spending a few nights a week at her older sister’s house in Flaxmere.

EIT IDEA school Fashion Lecturer Christina Rhodes says: “Having taught Annette all those years ago, I’m delighted to know the skills learnt are still being used today.”

“It was a fabulous surprise when Amber entered in our NZ Diploma in Fashion (L5), and graduated at the end of last year, and even more exciting she returned this year and is now studying towards her Bachelor of Creative Practice Fashion. I look forward to seeing Amber’s success over the next two years.