Student Outcomes: Interview with Caitlin Austin – Buying Administrator at Factorie

Caitlin Austin studied at Melbourne Fashion Institute for three years, and in 2017 she completed the Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising (MST60116).


At MFI’s Graduate Parade and Cocktail Party in December, Caitlin was able to appreciate her work and view her collection on runway in front of a crowd filled with industry professionals, friends, and family; including representatives from WGSN, Melbourne Fashion Festival, Caprice, Cotton On, and many more. During the graduation ceremony, Caitlin was awarded the Encouragement Award as recognition of her dedication, excellence, and talent, which she was able to develop over the three years studying at MFI.


Caitlin was also successful in securing a fantastic job with Cotton On Group at the end of last year as a Buying Administrator for (sub label) Factorie. I recently caught up with her to have a chat about her new role, plans for the future, and her experience studying at MFI.

What were you doing before you enrolled at MFI?

I was still in High School, completing year 12. It wasn’t until the end of year 12 that I realised I wanted to study fashion design after completing school.

Why did you decide to study at MFI? What was it about the Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising that appealed to you?

I decided to study at MFI because of how individualised it was. Because of its smaller class sizes, students get to spend more one-on-one time with their mentors, and build closer relationships with them, which gives you a great foundation to build and grow your skills. Also, because the mentors at MFI are still current in the industry, they have great industry contacts that I thought could help with getting a job once I had finished the Advanced Diploma.


The Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising appealed to me because I wanted to broaden my skills and work out what I was good at, which could then help me figure out exactly what I wanted to do once I graduated. In year 12, you only learn a small amount of textiles and I wanted to learn more and also challenge myself.

What is something you learned in the Advanced Diploma that inspired you?

The Advanced Diploma inspired me to find out truly what I loved and the exact job I wanted at the end of the 3 years. Deciding to do the course was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but the best achievement yet. Graduating was such an emotional and exciting moment, and seeing my garments and everything I have learnt in the three years on the runway at the end was incredible.

How did you get the opportunity to apply for a job at Cotton On Group?

My Fashion Business mentor, Lisa Ceruto, recommended me for a job at Cotton On Group through an industry contact of hers. I already had my portfolio and resume up to date so I went for it and applied. I was then lucky enough to have a job interview, and was successful in becoming the newest member of the Factorie team at Cotton On Group.

What is your job role?

My job role is a Buying Administrator for Guyswear at Factorie in Geelong. It’s a great starting point for my career, enabling me to get my foot in the door in the fashion industry.

What do you enjoy about your job? Can you describe what a typical day at work is like at Factorie?

A Buyers Admin is an entry-level role; every day I am learning new things about the brand and the way fast fashion works. I also really enjoy the environment and working with new people.


A typical day at work includes emailing suppliers, updating range boards, close communication with the graphics team and receiving artwork to send to suppliers, prepping samples for fittings with the model i.e., measuring garments and checking fabric weight and quality. I’m also updating the production schedules and ensuring deadlines are met. This role has shown me the life cycle of a product in the fast fashion world and already I have learnt an incredible amount and I have only been working at Factorie for four months.

Tell me one thing you learned in the Advanced Diploma at MFI that has been invaluable in your current role?

I don’t think there is one particular thing that I could pick; everything that I have learnt from the Advanced Diploma has helped me in my role today. The amount of preparation and knowledge that my mentors gave me to be able to confidently work in the fashion industry has been so incredibly helpful. I cannot thank them enough for the amount of support they gave me during my studies at MFI.

What are your future plans/career goals?

My goal is to become the head trend/graphic designer for a brand. Whether it is at Factorie, or Cotton On Group, or somewhere closer to my family, my heart is with graphics and design and I’d love to be able gain more experience in a creative job like this one.

Do you have any advice for prospective students who are thinking about studying the Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising at MFI?

If you are planning on studying the Advanced Diploma, make sure you have the commitment and motivation. The course is very hands on and extremely intense, but an incredible achievement with a lifetime of knowledge. Make sure to always take any opportunity that comes to you; the more work experience the better. I also cannot stress enough how important it is to have an up to date resume and portfolio in case you are recommended for a job, or something that you are interested in comes along. Also, make sure to create a strong relationship with your mentors as they are just as passionate as you are, and want to help you succeed in the fashion world.

Visit this link for more information on our Nationally Recognised Qualifications.


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