Creative Jobs: Denise Whitsed, Manufacturer
From producing the famous Kookaburra Baggy Green Cap to crafting clothing for some of WA’s largest fashion labels, including Morrison, Denise Whitsed is the fashion manufacturing mogul of WA.
The high profile seamstress began Whitman Clothing almost 30 years ago from her two bedroom unit, today she works out of a small factory in West Leederville.
“We have six staff and a junior who we are training but there is so much work that we are turning people away every day because we can’t cope with the workload,” Ms Whitsed said.
Denise said it’s extremely difficult to find skills nowadays with younger generations more interested in becoming fashion designers. “If we could get more staff we could take on more work.”
She said attitudes had changed since manufacturing went offshore a decade ago with many designers now preferring to produce locally. “It means everything for the people I work with to be able to talk to me at any time and come and see their product at any time. Things can be resolved in a moment whereas if the product is overseas things are almost impossible to resolve and sometimes when the product arrives it is still not what they want,” she said.
Ms Whitsed said what many West Australians don’t believe is that local manufacturers can compete with the offshore prices.
The small business owner hopes the State Government continues to support the WA fashion industry but fears the manufacturing side could be lost over the next ten years.
“What we are really frightened about is in a decade when most of the skilled workers retire, there are no younger generations coming to fill our place and China will have it all.
“It is so important for us to keep this industry alive in Perth, that is what we fight for,” she said.