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From Congo to couture with TAFE NSW fashion

TAFE NSW Newcastle

From Congo to couture with TAFE NSW fashion

According to Australian Government job data*, the fashion, industrial and jewellery design industry will enjoy stable employment growth over coming years and designers can expect to earn on average $1,350 per week.

Fletcher local and TAFE NSW Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology student Martha Ngoyi is already driving full throttle towards career success, with her African-culture-meets-Australian-fashion brand Aegle Couture.

She undoubtedly has the energy to succeed in the highly-competitive field. While studying full time at TAFE NSW Newcastle and working casually, 22 year old Martha is also completing a double business degree at university. Unsurprisingly, she often has little sleep.

Born in the Congo, Martha moved to Australia from Zimbabwe 12 years ago with her brother and sister, and her mother who she says inspired her to turn her hand to sewing.

“Bespoke fashion is massive in Africa. Making clothes is big culturally and second nature to my family, so I took that on. I’d learn as I watched Mum sew. I started off using her scrap fabrics and making stuff for my dolls then realised I was really interested so I moved on to homewares like placemats and cushion covers,” she said.

“When I progressed to making clothes for myself I put them up on Snapchat and received lots of positive feedback from friends who suggested making clothes for them and selling online. Their encouragement was how I got into the business side, which I didn’t initially plan on. I didn’t realise it would go this far. I’d wanted to start a business for a while, hence my uni studies, but didn’t know what in. It’s a very cool accident.”

From what Martha understands, her business is fairly unique in Australia.

“I know there are tailors in Australia who can make African clothing to order through word of mouth, but I’m not aware of any doing such bespoke work and selling it online. To be honest it’s not a field people would dive headfirst into because clients can be… picky!” she laughs.

Of studying at TAFE NSW, which all her family has done at some stage over the years, Martha says she didn’t expect it to be so comprehensive.

She said, “Studying at TAFE NSW has been really good. It is in no way a Plan B… In a sense I lied to myself by thinking that. It’s similar to uni, just the structure is different. And although it’s more laid-back, there’s a lot more engagement and support. People can learn without pressure. I love it and am seriously considering the Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology but will have a little break once I finish up in June.”

“I’m in my final uni year as well and combining the two has been full on. I’m not getting enough sleep, but I’m disciplined and have somehow gained the strength to have little to no sleep in order to meet a deadline.”

On what it takes to juggle so many responsibilities, Martha said, “Discipline, endurance and patience because you don’t always see immediate results with studying or business – they’re a process. Also a lot of courage to learn as you go, plus good support and good community like I have with my family, church and friends.”

TAFE NSW is Australia’s largest training provider, offering over 1,200 courses, from certificates to degrees. Many can be studied online via TAFE Digital. Visit or call 131 601.