FINALLY having her lifelong dream come true ended up being something of a bittersweet moment for Katrina Wright.
Just hours after the budding fashion designer from Heathmont found out she'd be flying to Sydney to compete in a nationwide showcase, she received the news that she'd lost the biggest influence on her career.
"My inspiration is my nana; she was always a fashionista. But just after I received the email saying I was chosen, I got the news she'd passed away," she says.
That was back in January. Now, as the 32-year-old departs this month for Sydney and her part in Australia's biggest emerging designer showcase, DEBUT, she chooses to see the situation positively.
"From that day on, I knew it was meant to be," she says. "Being selected was a nice tribute to her. She's the reason I love fashion."
Ms Wright, who has worked for Jeans West, Just Jeans, Gaz Man and Myer, says she's excited to showcase her own collection and label Mikat.
"It's such a massive opportunity being part of a prestigious design competition," says Ms Wright. "It gives me the chance to build my brand identity."
She explains her label's name. "It came from my nickname Kat, and has the Italian word for 'me' in front of it," she laughs. "It's what my designs are about."
Ms Wright carries a notepad wherever she goes, believing you never know when ideas will crop up. "Inspiration comes to me at the most random times."
Ms Wright began designing after continually being disappointed with what the market offered. But she still works part-time at Country Road at Eastland shopping centre as a means of keeping up to date with current trends.
"I felt constantly disappointed by the style of handbags and stuff out there. At least at Country Road I get to keep my finger on the pulse and interact with customers."
Created in 2006, DEBUT is biannual event that gives new apparel and accessory labels from Australia and New Zealand a chance to break into the highly competitive Australasian fashion industry. To view, or purchase some of Katrina Wright's Mikat collection, visit mikataccessories.com.au