Laura Hawthorne

Laura studied for her Diploma of Fashion Design at Newcastle TAFE then moved to Sydney to complete her Advance Diploma of Fashion Design. She started with her eye on costume design, but after experiencing the fast-paced and trend-driven environment of the Australian fashion scene, she was hooked. Throughout her time in the industry, Laura has worked across multiple categories for men, women and children including swimwear, underwear, sportswear, day wear and evening wear.

Laura’s fashion career has seen her travelling to Indonesia, China and Hong Kong to find suppliers, create relationships with factories and manage production. She loves learning about new trends in the design and production process and emerging technologies in the TFC industry that she can also share with her students.

Laura moved back to her hometown of Newcastle six years ago and began teaching fashion design. She loves mentoring her students and guiding them to bring their creative visions to life. During this time she started getting requests to make wedding, bridesmaid and formal dresses from some friends and family, which led to her founding her label Poppy and Blake. With a passion for delicate fabrics, fine craftsmanship and intricate details she spends many hours each week in her home studio creating one-of-a-kind bridal gowns for her clients.



Christina Exie

Christina is a winner of the prestigious reality TV show Project Runway 2012, which set a perfect platform for her to achieve global design success. After getting her fashion degree and being an entrepreneur at heart, she launched her Australian Athleisure wear brand EXIE. She has helped multiple six-figure brands scale from concept to operations, providing advice from her 15 years of global roles and personal experience founding and growing two e-commerce, wholesale and retail businesses.

She recognizes trends and patterns early to help others understand how these shifts impact markets, consumer behaviour, and brand relevance.


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