From school to international fashion model

A young woman’s interest-driven journey towards a successful microenterprise

Tia’s journey began with a desire to ensure her post-school life was not dominated by screens and solitude. She had an interest in fashion, design, and modelling. Her team explored this interest with her and tested creative methods of designing that didn’t involve sketching or drawing. As a result of this process, Tia has created her successful fashion label, Funk N Soul 97, and has become a runway model.

In this presentation, Tia walks us through every step of creating her Polynesian-inspired fashion ranges to show the unique ways she works.

You will learn about

  • the support Tia received along the way
  • how Tia’s business is structured to be sustainable, and
  • how you can get started on your own Microenterprise journey.

Meet the presenters

Portrait of Tia SemiTia Semi – Owner – Funk N’ Soul 97

Tia Semi is the founder, owner and creative force behind Funk N’ Soul 97. She is a proud Polynesian-Australian woman with disabilities living in Western Australia. Her vision is to create, push boundaries and inspire. Tia aims to make connections with people, teach people to see her abilities, accept her for who she is, and teach them to accept differences.

Tia designs and creates culturally inspired fashion ranges that have featured on local, interstate, and international runways. She also is a successful model. She has walked the runway in Australia and New Zealand.

Tia was invited to participate in New York Fashion Week’s Flying Solo “Ones to Watch” event as a model and designer in 2022.

Gina Semi – Innovative Employment Advisor, Valued Lives, WA

Portrait of Gina Semi

Gina is a hairdresser by trade and has owned her salon for seven years. She could see that there were no suitable employment options for her daughter, Tia. Local service providers did not offer the support Tia needed to reach her goals. So Gina started building connections with other like-minded parents and working with Tia to discover what work would look like for her.

When the Valued Lives Microenterprise Project was born, Gina worked there in a volunteer capacity. During this time, she started building Tia’s business and supported others to do the same. Gina now works as an Innovative Employment Advisor and helps people to fulfil their employment goals.

Samantha Powell – Innovative Employment Advisor, Valued Lives, WA

Portrait of Samantha Powell

Samantha is a West Aussie with a lifetime of experience in disability. She has held volunteer roles and governance positions in the Not For Profit sector. She has qualifications in business, community services, advocacy and education support, including a bachelor’s degree in Community Development. These have allowed her to put her unique perspective to use and to empower people with disability.

Samantha is values-driven and approaches everything she does with authenticity. Her work at Valued Lives allows her to follow her passion for creating more employment opportunities for people with disability. In doing so, she hopes to change attitudes around disability employment.

When not at work, Samantha is busy being a soccer Mum and cat lady.