Friday, November 8, 2013

Local profile - Helen Webster

It is a small world in Melbourne.  I ran into a couple of women I previously knew at the Banyule Women in Business lunch including Helen Webster who was one of my first ever clients when I was just a junior burger working at Ann Morrison Public Relations (AMPR) - my first ever job in PR.  Helen was then working for the International Wool Secretariat (now known as The Woolmark Company) and as you will read, has an extensive background in textiles - especially wool.  It was lovely to run into her again after so many years and to hear what she has been up to.
Image via www.raffal.com.au
Name: Helen Webster
Occupation: Proprietor, Raffal
Lives/works: Eaglemont
How long have you lived here?  All my life

About Helen:
I have my own business importing and distributing scarves and wraps to boutiques and other accessory outlets around Australia.

I went to Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School and then went on to complete a Bachelor of Science at Melbourne University.  I began work at the International Wool Secretariat and worked predominantly in Marketing.  The work involved assisting the local textile industry to know more about how wool can be used in apparel.  Also to promote both Australian made and imported textiles through co-operative advertising and product knowledge to both retailers, manufacturers and ultimately consumers.
Textile weaver
I was heavily involved with forecasting fashion direction to the manufacturers, specifically in the knitwear area.  This knowledge helped me tremendously when I set up my own business.  I am able to produce a palette of colours for the season which is used when I travel to India to put together both the forthcoming Winter and Summer ranges.  I specialise in pure wool and fine Australian wool.  In summer I incorporate silk, linen and cotton into the range.  Representing me are five agents selling in the different states.
Image from a recent trip
Gradually as the business evolved, I began to travel to China to see what was available. The range of shopping in Guangzhou (Southern China) amazed me.  Being widely travelled (most of Asia and Europe/US) I had never seen shopping like this.  It is unbelievable and you have got to go to know!  It is the world's wholesale market.  I set up another business 'Buy up Big' inviting ladies to come on a 7 day shopping bonanza to Guangzhou.  The trip can incorporate people's special interests, but also includes a river cruise at night, shopping for all types of consumer goods - shoes, handbags, wallets, spectacles, clothes, watches, and having clothes made.  We visit some of the best tourist sites in this city.  We go to huge plazas and complexes selling at wholesale prices and also visit the best retail store locations.  I do these trips once a year usually around October - December.  Cost includes airfares, accommodation and breakfast and all transport whilst in Guangzhou.
Happy shoppers!
About living in Melbourne's north-east:
The best things are the undulating landscapes, trees, plants, birds and flowers as well as the fresh air and friendly people.

For more information:
Website: www.raffal.com.au
Facebook: Helen Webster
Contact: 9499 2041 / 0408 051 644

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