From Sketchbook Illustrations to Reality 

Published/Updated on:
July 5, 2023
Graduate Spotlight

Read more about our graduate Noelle’s apparel design journey and how she implements what she learnt in to start her own business! 

About Noelle | Friends' and family's reactions | Experience in | Brand Mission | Inspiration behind your work? | Future plans? | Thailand and Philippines Market Research | Some of Noelle’s other work | Interested to start your own fashion journey?

Tell me more about yourself.

I have always had an artistic spirit with a natural interest in drawing, painting and the arts. During my school internship in Japan, I found myself immersed in Tokyo’s vibrant fashion streetwear and business attire culture which piqued my interest in fashion. Wanting to enter the creative industry, I worked as a Social Media Manager at Dentsu Aegis Network International and after worked as a Key Accounts Manager for Frankie General Store, collaborating with renowned companies such as Jollibee, Goldilocks, Orias, MX Studios, and many more.     

What reactions did you get from your friends and family when you said you wanted to join the fashion industry and why did you choose 

Coming from a family of dentists and doctors, it is remarkable to see that my parents were fully supportive of me and my dreams. After much research, I found that offered me exactly what I needed to start my fashion career, which is the Diploma in Apparel Design and Product Development for as short as 5 months! 

What was your experience like in 

I’ve always loved fashion drawing and illustrating.’s trainers are amazing and have a different way of teaching. Trainers like Jennifer Chan who has industry knowledge and established her own business in the 70s, helped me with my corset sewing. Trainer Alan helped me with quality management and mass production. Even after the diploma ended, the trainers continued talking to me about what I needed in the future if I were to set up my own business and gave me encouragement and moral support! 

For’s diploma course, students will have to design their own fashion collection at the end of the 5 months. The process includes conceptualizing our collection, producing samples, technical drawings, quality management to the actual drafting, sewing and basic draping.

Coming up with the fashion design collection was a lot of brainstorming. I came up with 68 outfit designs, out of this 68, 25 were a crowd favorite and 5 made it into the collection.

Some of the designs I drew

The 5 final collection

My fashion collection is mainly for the target audience from 23 - 35 years old. Also, if you think 68 illustrations is a lot, I currently have 200 pages worth of ideas in my sketchbook!  

Hard at work! 

Drafting and Sewing 
Technical drawings of her corset 
Process of making corset

A small little backstory on where the fabric comes from - this Inabel fabric came from the Philippines! La Union to be exact. The fabric was hand delivered to me by my uncle by plane and bought by my cousin from the traditional weavers from La union. Before the fabric was delivered, I had many doubts in my head. But to my pleasant surprise, I discovered that green, yellow and blue Inabel fabric combines well together.

The special element of my design is the corset. After much research, I liked how the corset fit into my desired style. Here’s my final product! 

Could you tell us more about the inspiration behind your work?

What inspired me the most is the Material Inabel  which originated from the Ilocos region in the Philippines. Meaning “handwoven in Ilocano, it holds much significance as it preserves centuries old designs and patterns with indigenous weaving tradition using traditional wooden pedal frame looms. With my mother hailing from La Union, a province of the Ilocos region, I grew up going back to the small town and watching the weaving techniques perfected by the Ilocos weavers over the years. The Inabel cloth is well known for its softness, breathability, distinct designs and durability. 

Ever since I was young, I visited La Union as a tourist spot every summer and for most of the trips, besides surfing and enjoying our stay, we would visit the indigenous tribes that sell Inabel fabric. Once outside the houses, you can only hear the loud echoes and clacking sounds produced by the wooden loom. When I was 16, I watched an old lady weave the fabric and wondered why this fabric is not widely used for the masses as this material is suitable for daily wear - it is surprisingly soft yet a little stiff while it drapes well on the body. 

The place where the indigenous tribe work and live

The Inabel fabric comes in a variety of different design techniques. Namely, Whirlwind Pattern (dizzying pattern that is meant to distract evil spirits and protect the wearer) , Brocade weave (creates designs that “floats” on the threads by inserting sticks on chosen wrap threads) and Ikat Tye Dye (uses a mix of indigenous plants is used as natural dyes and boiled).

What are some of your future plans? 

When I first joined, I didn't even know how to use a sewing machine. But now, after graduating, I'm thrilled to start my own business, and the first thing on my list is getting my hands on a Singer sewing machine. I also plan to hire an extra seamstress to bring my visions to life.

I'm incredibly passionate about fashion, and this drive was only fueled further during my time at the Frankie General Store, where I got to see and experience various brands and styles. My dream is to establish a contemporary ready-to-wear label that not only showcases my designs but also shines a spotlight on the beautiful culture of the Philippines. One thing I noticed about the local  market, is there are limited options for petite sized clothing, so my 

What is your Brand Mission?

My brand's name is  Noellejoy and it’s mission is not just about fashion; it's about empowering women and embracing their uniqueness. I'm envisioning inclusive designs, such as incorporating elastic bands, concealed zippers, and specially placed darts, to cater to plus-sized women and ensure a perfect fit that enhances their silhouette and boosts their confidence. I believe that the little details matter, and a slight sizing error shouldn't spoil the overall look of the garment.

I want "noellejoy" to be an international sensation, appealing to both Filipinos and fashion enthusiasts worldwide. Whether someone is exploring the streets of Paris or roaming the cities in the United States, I want my brand to be their go-to choice for stylish and comfortable clothing.Drawing inspiration from my family's heritage, I've carefully selected color palettes that hold significant meaning within the Inabel family. Greens, dusty blue, pastel yellow, and tan will feature prominently in my collections, adding a touch of personal history to each design.

My debut collection is already in the works, featuring four fabulous corsets paired with high-waisted cargo pants. And guess what? If the response is positive, and I'm optimistic it will be, I'm already planning an even more exciting second collection with seven unique pieces that will wow everyone!

Illustrations of her new collection 

Thailand and Philippines Market Research

But that's not all! To make my dream come true, I recently embarked on a market research trip to Thailand and the Philippines, hunting for the perfect fabrics and materials to bring my creations to life. It was a journey of discovery and inspiration, and I can't wait to share the results with you all!


Some of Noelle’s other work 

From an early age, I've always been drawn to art and craftsmanship. I fondly remember my dad buying me coloring books and crayons while they went bowling. I'd get lost in the colors, and once the bowling session was over, my masterpiece would be complete! Recently, I've been experimenting with painting jute bags, and they've become a wonderful side hustle for me.

So, stay tuned for all the updates and the incredible journey of Noellejoy. I'm determined to make my mark in the fashion world and spread the beauty of Filipino culture one design at a time!

Interested to start your own fashion journey?

Are you passionate about fashion and dreaming of a creative career like Noelle? is your gateway to turning those dreams into reality. Just like Noelle, you can embark on a transformative journey with our exceptional courses designed to ignite your fashion aspirations like our Diploma in Apparel Design and Product Development and Diploma in Fashion Business. Do WhatsApp us or drop us a call at 6011 8066 and ask for our programme advisors to have all your questions answered!

Nicole Toh

Hi! I'm Nicole. I am a Junior Marketing Executive in Look forward to more blogs and content coming up from me! I love a good cup of tea, some light exercise and listening to music! I am always open to a thought provoking conversation, so hit me up if you've something you want to debate on! 

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