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25.02.19 | ICHM Graduate Story

All Sewn Up

Graduate Estelle Barnes’ career took a new turn in 2016 when she put a range of designer children’s wear on the market. 

Graduates Estelle Barnes’ (nee Thomson) career has been nothing if not diverse.

After graduating in 2002 her career began traditionally enough, when she started out as a Communications Coordinator with Park Hyatt Sydney. However, her time in hotels was short-lived, and she took up the position as Office Manager/Human Resources Administrator with Australian Wool Innovations in Martin Place, Sydney.

When the travel bug hit she gained certification to teach English as a Foreign Language, taking up teaching English contract roles in Jakarta, Indonesia (2003 - 2005) and then Hamamatsu, Japan (2005 - 2006).

Back in Australia, she accepted a role with BAE Systems Australia - Maritime, as Human Resources Advisor - Recruitment and then Training Developer and Instructor - Learning and Development (2008 - 2011). 

These appointments were followed by a Human Resources Coordinator role with the Country Fire Authority - Barwon South West Region near Geelong, Victoria. She then took a part - time position as Human Resources Adviser with the Committee of Geelong, while juggling the demands of raising a young family.  

The Muddled Bowerbird label of handmade designer children’s wear took off in 2016 as a home - based business. 

Estelle says it may seem a big jump to owner/designer/sewist of a children’s-wear label, but hospitality - and ICHM - taught her the fundamentals of running a business.

Estelle crafts each item from the finest of fabrics, and each item is designed to evoke nostalgia and childhood charm.  

‘Each piece is artfully designed to allow the simplicity of the fabric to shine, and tell a story as personal and unique as their new owner. The range features patterns and textures inspired by the many vast and varied corners of the globe’.

‘At Muddled Bowerbird I am responsible for not only the design and end-to-end production of the clothing, but also the entire business - marketing (largely online), bookkeeping, and filling orders.

‘I look back at my time at ICHM with great fondness, as it was where I discovered that “Hotel Management” was not just about “Hospitality”, but understanding all elements of running a business. I really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in work placements, which gave me a huge advantage when it came to looking for job opportunities once I had graduated.’

Estelle reassures that she has not left her hospitality roots entirely, as she has taken a ‘job on the side’ at Ripe Pizza Bar in central Geelong, helping out a friend who is the owner.

Estelle’s industry placements while at ICHM were at Centra Hotel, Melbourne and Hayman Island, North Queensland.