As i made my way over to Sydney Olympic Park for my first Lane 5ive apparel photoshoot, a sense of relief and empowerment came over me. For the first time in almost 7 years i felt all my creativity, hard work at highschool, University and work was beginning to paying off.
Lane 5ive is my sports apparel label which began 2 ears ago when i finished my design degree (majoring in graphics and media/textiles) at COFA UNSW.
It all began when i started my first real job as a head sports apparel graphic designer for FI-TA Sports. There i learnt about sports apparel design and got to learn so much about the sports apparel Industry. I designed uniforms for local, national and International sports teams. This i thought was a great career for me to combine by graphic design skills with sport. Since then i have gone onto design for companies around Australia. My background as a national runner and national champion has been reflected in my hard work and dedication i have put into this brand.
The road down this career path hasn’t always been easy because it is a cutthroat Industry and you can easily get walked all over if you don’t stand your own ground. Manufacturing in Australia has also taken a downward turn due to the GFC and many sporting teams are taking the cheaper option of manufacturing sports apparel over in China. This has made it very difficult for Australian manufacturers, whom i have worked for, to succeed which reflects the stressful environment i have worked in over the past 3 years.
To earn a good living out of this career is minimal as many of the companies who manufacture sports apparel here in Australia are small businesses whom invest all of their money into the manufacturing processes and little time into their workers. As the head graphic designer for a few sports apparel companies now, it has been hard to gain respect and for other people to understand how the creative processes work. A sports apparel design takes quite alot of thought as to how the graphics and the design will suit the pattern. Over the past couple of years i have become very knowledgable of this and i can produce quick, fast designs. The hardest part of the design process is to set up a template on Illustrator to match the artwork. The best way to succeed in this Industry is to create a brand which has a point of difference to other sports apparel brands. Working in the wholesale and manufacturing side of sports apparel is a very underpaid industry to get in too.
Since leaving my last job on Monday of this week as an Accounts Manager, Designer and Production Manager i have definitely now realised that for me as a designer i much prefer being the leader and the label owner- more so than working for other people. I get to design my own gear based off my own inspirations, direct my own projects, work hard to create my own clients and i much prefer this than working like a slave for people who don’t give a hoot about your work or creative concepts. I also get to work within my own hours so i can fit in athletics and swimming training.
Self belief, and the belief from others is what is going to make Lane 5ive a success along with my business knowledge. To make a brand successful you have to be an entrepreneur as you need to take control of the design and creative processes, finance, marketing and production.
I have also realised that when Lane 5ive takes off and i do employ others i will want to promote a work balance as everyone has a life outside of the office. I would also want to enforce a positive work environment. The negativity from some of the places i have been at has been so off-putting that from Monday if i am to work another full time job i am staying clear of this industry. On a quick note- looking through job searches- i find it funny how some applications ask for you to be “sports minded” with a “sports background” yet when you ask the director of the company what the hours of your job are, and its like a 10-12 hour day… how are you suppose to fit in sport and maintaining that work balance? It doesn’t to me make any sense!
Sam Rouen, Winner of Season 3’s The Biggest Loser, met me at Homebush for the very first photoshoot in my sports apparel. From the moment i met Sam at my mates get together barbeque a couple of years ago i could tell her was a person of ambition, integrity, determination and modesty- elements which are so hard to find in people today.
It was evident that Sam was a champion losing a staggering 71.7kg over the course of the show. That is pretty much one of me!
The reason why i chose Sam as a role model for Lane 5ive, was because to me he represents a true athlete both on the field and off the field. his strong mental attitude is a reflection of his physical shape today. Still seasons on from the show, Sam, manages to keep the weight off and live life at the same time.
Sam also didn’t expect anything back from the shoot i did with him- no endorsements or anything he just wanted to do the shoot to help a mate out and to me that is a reflection of Sam- such a giver with a great soul. To me- Sam represents the perfect Lane 5ive role model.
The photos as seen below look great. I couldnt have asked the day to be any better with the sun shining in the perfect direction, barely anyone on the track and most importantly, Lane 5 was spare! Sam ripped the track up and the photos turned out great! By no means have i had any professional experience as a photographer but my Sony Alpha Camera and a bit of my creative direction definitely helped.
I have another four designs left to take snaps off, which means another 4 lane 5ive role Models. I have a few people in mind, but Sam is definitely the key role model in someone who i would be looking for to represent my label.
I am hoping now that the world will get to see Lane 5ive and before going off to manufacture thousands of my designs i want to make sure people love what i have designed as much as i have loved designing the gear. I dedicate Lane 5ive to my Pop who has been my biggest support network since i started Athletics and Swimming from the age of 5. Even though he isn’t here today- to me he is a symbol of true strength and determination and he always lead me in the right direction. He was always commenting on my designs and saying how one day he would love to see me design gear which would be in a league of its own.
The sky is no longer the limit- its time to go universal.