Tia Carrigan writes: I was born and raised on a wheat and sheep farm just a few kilometres down the road from where Nicole grew up in northwest NSW. So, as you can imagine, fashion design wasn’t the most obvious career choice for the daughter of a 4th generation grazier. But I chose it anyway, and I think growing up in the bush gave me the freedom to explore and understand what I loved about being creative. I’ve always been creative, always involved in something arty. I went through a stage of painting bright abstract florals on our ‘bus-runner’ vehicles, much to the amusement of the neighbouring farmers. Just imagine dead flat country, a long straight stretch of bitumen, one side farmed with cotton and the other with pasture, and then smack bang in the middle, sitting proudly next to the road for all to see, vivid yellow and red flowers splashed in paint across an old EJ Holden station-wagon. I suppose, looking back on it now, this image of stark contrast that I created when I was 11 or 12 has become a way of life for me. Even filtering through to my choice of career and how I work today. I originally began a degree in Commerce but within that first year I felt like I was suffocating. I couldn’t breathe knowing I was studying for a life without constant inspiration. Being imaginative and artistic has coloured everything I’ve done since before my flower power EJ and I knew that I couldn’t survive in a mainstream career choice.  So I scared everyone around me, including my parents, and I enrolled in Fashion Design. I studied an Advanced Diploma of Textiles Clothing and Footwear at, what is now called Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE in Brisbane. From the moment I started the course, I knew I had been right to drop out of my Commerce degree and follow what I knew I wanted to do, something creative. And all through my studies, and even in my work now ( www.tiacarrigan.com.au ) I have tried to recreate that vibrant contrast and eye-catching unexpectedness that I created with my yellow and red ‘flower power’ EJ. I find it funny now looking back at how a seemingly unimportant and funny stage I went through as a child, has actually become just one of the many vital links in forming the creative concept I subscribe to today.