Career Code: What It's Like to Run a Sydney Fashion School

In honour of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($22), we’re kicking off an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honour of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the fashion industry. So far, we’ve tapped Pip EdwardsRebecca MinkoffSally SingerRachel Zoe, and more. Up next? Selena Mazuran, owner of FBI Fashion College.

Once upon a time, the fashion industry seemed like an impossible beast to crack. Depending on the area you wanted to work in, it was often a case of being in the right place at the right time, or knowing the right people. When FBI Fashion College launched in 1994, it was the first in Australia to introduce fashion business to the scope of training in Australia. Founder Selena Mazuran had big plans to shake up the industry, and she's done just that.

FBI Fashion College has had a huge impact on the local fashion industry, placing an average of 100 students per week into internships for on-the-job training. Its alumni include some of the most well-known names in the industry—Ilona Hamer, Charlotte Stokes, and Talisa Sutton, to name a few. 

The college gives students a direct link to the fashion industry. Curious to hear more about the inner-workings of running a fashion school, we reached out to Mazuran for our latest installment of Career Code. Keep scrolling! 

"As Owner of FBI Fashion College I make sure that our overall vision meets our objective and purpose every day. My job is to guarantee that everything we do achieves the best results for our students and oversee the day to day running of the college and make it a fun and interactive learning space."

"Apart from all the fun, there is extensive risk management as we really are the middle-man between our students and their career in the fashion industry, so we have to ensure we are providing the best education and giving them the right tools to succeed. There’s a lot of background work and as a Registered Training Organisation we answer to the Australian Government to ensure that our courses are meeting the standards—I think people would be surprised at the vastness of our clients and the constant management involved to satisfy our Governing body."

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@FBIFashionCollege

"Stockings! Other than stockings my David Jones job interview outfit was very ‘Broken Hill’ as I had just arrived from my home town the day before. Certainly no brands were involved!"

"Good question! Gina Rinehart."

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@FBIFashionCollege

"There are so many great resources online, but I prefer to go into the industry, build relationships and speak to people myself (whether it be a designer, producer, publicist or buyer) and physically look at their latest merchandise or most recent work. I think it’s a much better way to build relationships which allows us to also have many industry insiders visit us at FBI Headquarters to keep us up to date."

"I am here for a reason and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else... I wouldn’t change a thing as I’ve learnt and grown throughout my time in the industry and taken it all in my stride."

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@FBIFashionCollege

"Willingness, humour, a natural understanding of business workings, honesty and finally, one of the eleven forms of intelligence."

"Chanel or anything that I have which belongs to my Mum or my Dad.... I love wearing my mum’s jewellery and dad’s watch."

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@FBIFashionCollege

"Tough, supportive, generous, nurturing and hopefully funny."

"Play female big vocal music and sing loudly!"

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@FBIFashionCollege

"Sit down with the owner/manager and discuss why you want to quit and work out the best road forward for both parties – you never want to burn a bridge that you may need to cross down the road!"

"There are so many options in Glebe now (where our office is based) with the new Broadway Shopping Centre and new Tramway centre, but, I can't go past Din Tai Fung."

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@FBIFashionCollege

"White lies have become seemingly acceptable in the industry, usually because new staff are scared of failing or disappointing. Staff need to remember that honesty is the best policy and that learning from your mistakes and fixing them will get your farther than lying!"

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@FBIFashionCollege

"A walk along the water, followed by yoga."

"To be a successful business owner you need to manage your costs and staff well—with no organisation or processes in place, a business will fail!"

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@FBIFashionCollege

"We are very excited about our recent partnership with an International Fashion School. 

This gives students the opportunity to study and become involved in a selection of international fashion industries and the opportunity to study in some of the fashion capitals of the world—Milan, Paris, London and Shanghai. We are also looking at opening up another FBI location. Stay tuned...."