How Network Introductions Create Global Collaborations.

The power of your relationships is extraordinary, and always beyond what can be imagined.

This is a brief play-by-play of the chain reaction to launch a global collaboration, furthering the fashion industry in two cities from around the world.

A couple of years ago I attended SXSW for the first time and met Saskia Fairfull who attended a mentorship session I was hosting (which was kind of like speed-dating but for business advice). Great network connections are like any great relationships, they just click. Within the span of a 15 minute conversation about fashion, branding and technology, we knew we wanted to stay in touch and collaborate together.

A few weeks post SXSW we held a Skype call which would be the first of many. Saskia pitched me on the idea of creating a global network of up-and-coming innovators and advisors in the fashion industry called the Independent Fashion Advisory Board (IFAB). I was in!

At the same time I was formulating my ideas for the Austin Fashion Initiative (AFI), a local network focused on business development for fashion in Austin (as is the magic of SXSW, this was also an idea I had while in the PhD-decompression-chamber that was my first SXSW experience in 2017).

Fast forward about 18 months later, after many Skype calls and AFI events, I was on a plane for Melbourne to participate in a number of events orchestrated by Saskia, including Tuxedo, an intimate business conference for fashion and technology. Since Adelaide is Austin's sister city, Saskia reached out to the Adelaide Fashion Festival organizers to see if they wanted to connect with me. They couldn't make it over to Melbourne for Tuxedo, but we did the next best thing: I was on a plane to visit them for the day and meet with several fashion designers, brands and city officials who were looking to strengthen our international relationship through our sister city connection.

Their great idea: Developing a designer exchange to feature Adelaide designers at Austin Fashion Week and likewise feature Austin based brands at the Adelaide Fashion Festival at future festivals each October. Again, I was in!

Inside  Tiff Manuell’s Studio  in Adelaide Australia.

Inside Tiff Manuell’s Studio in Adelaide Australia.

Saskia & Jen speaking at Tuxedo.Melbourne

Saskia & Jen speaking at Tuxedo.Melbourne

A walk past Austin, Street in Adelaide Australia.

A walk past Austin, Street in Adelaide Australia.

After a quick introduction to Matt Swinney, the founder of Fashion X and Austin Fashion Week, and he was on a plane to visit the Adelaide Fashion Festival in October of 2018.

After that trip the wheels were in motion (and going at high speed) to figure out the necessary preparations to launch what we hope will be the first of many designer exchange programs to and from Austin. As a result, Fashion X is featuring five Adelaide based fashion brands in its Austin Fashion Week on February 23rd (tickets available for purchase). In partnership, Austin Fashion Initiative is also facilitating a number of international business development events for the Australian brands, including a professional networking event on February 25th (RSVP for free).

This is what global collaboration looks like, and it is the start of what I hope will be many extraordinary projects. I'm so grateful for first meeting Saskia and for her initiative in getting the ball rolling on so many fronts. I'm also so thankful and awed by the City of Adelaide and the Adelaide Fashion Festival's initiative, support and generosity in furthering this project along. But this project wouldn't have been possible without Matt Swinney picking up the reins and driving it to completion to design a fashion show featuring the connection Austin has with Adelaide.

This experience that we're creating is truly a pay-it-forward chain reaction of network effects to create a positive impact that will go on to have a ripple effect of its own. Who knows where the adventures will take us. But I'm in!


Interested in participating in future international designer exchange projects? Contact us.