Juli Grbac, winner of International TV Series show Project Runway (Australia 2008) has sat down with X NIHILO to discuss her success in the fashion industry.
Juli was one of X NIHILO'S first customers. Our founder Jenny contacted her to find out how she was going with her new label and it was the beginning of a dear friendship between Juli and the X NIHILO team.
Julie is a Brisbane girl. Her mother was a dressmaker, and this inspired her to develop her love of fashion at a very young age. Juli always knew she wanted to be a designer as fashion came naturally to her.
“I always say that I started where my mother left off. I certainly inherited her bravery and resilience, we both get up quickly when things don’t go our way and we are not scared of challenges.”
Juli is a fashion designer and entrepreneur. In 2002 she started her own label 'Grbac' where she specialised in designing uniforms. She has most notably designed the uniforms for airline Virgin Australia. Juli is now launching her latest project 'Grace on Mercer', which she describes as 'a range of quality basics for the busy travelling executive woman and all-round achiever.'
"When you’re designing a uniform collection the pieces have to fit and flatter all body types and sizes and that’s quite a design challenge. But I’ve been able to impart this knowledge designing for Grace on Mercer. I think it’s a stronger and more relevant capsule collection because of the experience I've had designing corporate apparel for women worldwide."
"Being able to make people feel confident because of what they're wearing and knowing I had something to do with it is why I do my job. Grace on Mercer is the perfect example of a woman stepping into the best version of herself, seeing a woman put on one of my pieces and watching her face light up is a fantastic feeling!"
Juli is proof that if you do what you love it doesn't feel like work at all. She knows she chose the right career path because couldn't see herself doing anything else. Juli also loves to work hard and talks fondly of her Grace on Mercer capsule collection that was born from working enormous hours and travelling constantly between New York and Australia whilst designing for a number of global companies.
Juli began her professional fashion career studying fashion design at the Gateway TAFE before working as a production assistant for the luxurious Brisbane label, Easton Pearson. During this time Juli learnt the technical skills of the trade, but also what it takes to be a success in the increasingly competitive fashion industry.
"Being naturally talented at something is just the start, it’s the hard work and doing the same thing repetitively that makes the difference. I know that my success has come from my skill to create a garment from start to finish, I am able to execute the design myself and lead others to do it with my vision in mind."
Juli believes the winning combination for success is determination, resilience and talent. She also uses her personal experiences as inspiration for her designs. She spent years combining business, pleasure and travel – and often all in a single day. This made her understand the necessity for women to have a variety of great pieces that they can travel with and go from business class to boardroom and into the evening; hence the birth of Grace on Mercer.
Juli credits her mother as her biggest inspiration and mentor. She came to Australia at the tender age of 21 with no word of English. Juli remembers her mother cleaning office buildings at night, and one day she told her mum that she missed her and that she wished she were home more. The very next week her mother had purchased herself an industrial sewing machine so she could work from home and started taking on projects – at first for free until she felt like she was good enough to charge. From there, her mother started running her own business and ironically, she excelled at uniforms.
“With the opportunities, I have in this country and the support of my family combined with my work ethic I always feel like every win of mine is a win for my mum. She is always by my side and will ALWAYS be there to support me. She knows me better than anyone else in the world.
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