11yo designer joins PNG fashion industry

And just like that, 11-year-old Andrea Wesley has become an inspiration to her family.

Up until the PNG Fashion Week in August, designing dresses was only Andrea’s passion.

“She would draw amazing dresses and show it to us but you know, it was her thing and we never thought much about it,” says her mother, Colleen.

Colleen was introduced to a whole new world when she decided to bring her daughter along to the PNG Fashion Week.

“When I saw the advertisement in the papers, I thought why not, this is her hobby,” Colleen says.

The parents arranged with Andrea’s school, Waigani Christian Academy, where she’s doing Grade Six, to be excused for the week.

Colleen accompanied her daughter to the week’s event faithfully, from the workshops through to the fashion show.

This was where Colleen’s view on her daughter’s special interest changed.

“When I saw other women interested in the tiniest details of my daughter’s designs, I realised that this is something big,” she said.

Andrea also impressed the director of Pacific Runway Fashion, Failepou Peni, who has volunteered to mentor her personally.

Ms Peni gave Andrea a designer sketch book and some trade advice and has challenged her to take part in the fashion show next year.

Colleen is now looking at taking sewing lessons to help her daughter with sewing the outfits, and has warmed up to learning about fashion through various platforms.

The family will be doing fundraisings in the coming months through to next year to purchase sewing machines and other things Andrea needs.

“We are all behind her to see that she achieves her dream, starting with at least 8 outfits on the PNG Fashion Week runway next year,” Colleen said.

They have opened a temporary Facebook account under the name PNG Bilas Wear.

“We maintain our relationship with fellow participants of the fashion week to grow her.”

Andrea, the oldest of four girls, is from a mixed parentage of West New Britain, Morobe and New Ireland Province. She has been drawing since the first time she could pick up a pen.

Andrea (left) with mum Colleen Wesley and sister Shavinnah showing some of Andrea's designs.

Gloria Bauai