“My Dad borrowed $200 from his mum and started NZ Apparel in his garage.” - Caitlan Mitchell, Editor NZ Apparel
In this episode of My Heels Are Killing Me Sonia Sly speaks to Caitlan Mitchell about growing up in the fashion business and the relevance of print media in the digital age.
Caitlan Mitchell may only be 22, but she knew from a young age that one day she would run her father’s business. You could say it was in her blood. But determination and early ambition were not lost on her - or her mother.
“When I was four years old my mum remembers the day that I sat down next to the editor of Apparel who asked, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said, ‘I’m going to have your job,” she laughs.
Today, Mitchell is happy to be in the driving seat as the Editor for NZ Apparel which has been running since the late 1960s and features news about designers, the latest brands, trends, events and caters to those who work behind the scenes.
Unlike her siblings, who didn’t care much for the magazine, Mitchell says that she has always had her sights on running the business and that it was as much her father’s baby, as her own.
“I came in every day after school and folded envelopes. Mum made it so that every envelope we stuffed we got 50 cents, but for every envelope you screwed up you had to give back 10 cents. That was a key factor in my work ethic,” says Mitchell.
Despite her siblings lack of interest, today the magazine is a family affair. Mitchell works alongside her mother and two siblings - her father has since retired - and the publishing house runs four titles which include Supermarket News, Hotel Magazine, Restaurant and & Cafe Magazine and a consumer e-zine Fennec & Friends.
Mitchell has been immersed in the industry since she was a baby where she was cast in television commercials. In her teens she found herself working as model, but made a sideways step into fashion photography.
“I’m too tall for a start,” says the 6 ft1 former model.
Mitchell says it requires looking at yourself and asking if you have the potential to make it on the international scene. She decided it wasn’t for her and left modelling to study photography at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. In order to be taken seriously as a photographer, she decided she couldn’t do both.
On top of editing NZ Apparel she shoots fashion editorials and runway shows. But it hasn't been without glitches along the way and a few hard lessons learnt in the early days.
“During the first fashion week that I shot there was an Australian photographer who saw the previews of my shots and ripped my camera off me halfway through a show and changed all of the settings on my camera.” she says.
“It really threw me back and put me in my place because I had a prime position in the pit. [Runway] photography is so different to normal photography because it’s almost like shooting sports [so] if you miss one outfit, then you’ve missed half the show,” Mitchell says.
Caitlan shares more about the reality of the photography pit, unexpected items found in goodie bags and being a millennial in an age of fast fashion in the latest podcast episode of My Heels Are Killing Me.