Fia Tompkins is a 23 year old designer originally from Denmark. Her label Lilla by Fia was created as an alternative to fast fashion while she was at TAFE in Maroochydore. She was lucky enough to win the Karl Donoghue scholarship last year which saw her travel to London to work with the company.

When did you discover your love for fashion?

I’ve always wanted to be a designer of some sort but didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do. After high school I travelled a little and became interested in fashion. It was mainly because I struggled to find the right fit when purchasing clothes so I began sewing classes where I learnt to make my own patterns.

What inspired you to start Lilla by Fia?

The idea was to create an alternative to fast fashion. I wanted all garments to be made here on the coast with natural dyes and sustainable fabrics.

What advice do you have for young people who are thinking of a career in fashion?

Just do it. Even if you start small at least you have your name out there. The rest will come with time.

Can you tell us a bit about your label’s ethos, including your approach to sustainability?

I take pride in our ethos. All garments are made with hemp and organic cotton and hand dyed on the Sunshine Coast my me. I try to create as little of an impact as I can by minimising waste and using eco friendly products when designing each collection. It can be difficult at times but protecting mother nature is our sole purpose.    

What was it like winning the paid internship with London fashion house Karl Donoghue last year through TAFE Queensland? What has it done for your label?

It was wonderful. I loved living in London and working in the industry but it’s always good to be home. I think I’ve realised I actually can’t do it all on my own. I have to focus my time and energy into designing and making each collection and let someone who is more experienced with other areas to manage those parts.   

What’s the fashion industry like for someone so young? Do you ever have people underestimate you or have you found a lot of support?

For the most part people appreciate and support what I do but I find some people still aren’t willing to pay what I charge. Once I explain the work that goes into a garment, people generally see why a garment made locally and hand dyed costs what it costs. It’s just creating awareness I think.

What trends/colours/designers are you loving at the moment?

I don’t follow a trend as such but I love dyeing with a by product and most times you don’t know or expect what the colour will be. That’s my favourite part.

What do you wish you knew when you started that you know now?

I wouldn’t change anything because you learn from your mistakes. However I’ve realised, especially coming back from London that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes and you physically can’t run a business all on your own.

How do you stay inspired?

I find this is the most difficult part for me, staying motivated. I think travel is a good way to reset and it always inspires new ideas.

What’s your opinion on the Sunshine Coast fashion industry?

I feel sustainable and ethical fashion is growing and becoming more recognised as people are becoming aware of the impacts the fast fashion industry has on the environment and workers. I do think some people, however are still in the mindset that cheaper is better but you have to think someone somewhere is paying the price. Fia Tompkins dress]]>