From the couch to the runway: How the Brisbane Business Hub helped Peter Sambia make his dreams a reality

For Praema founder Peter Sambia, the chance to ask a question at a Brisbane Business Hub event has led to a promising career in the fashion industry. 

Peter was in the audience for Brisbane Business Hub’s On The Couch With event with Alice Barbery, the CEO of Universal Store, in July 2021. Less than six months later, he launched his own creative platform, Praema, with a spectacular multicultural fashion show – and it all started with a question he asked that night. 

“What caught my attention [about the On The Couch With event] was that the CEO of Universal Store was going to be there,” he remembers. “She was amazing – she shared some really good wisdom and she showcased some excellent leadership qualities that were really amazing and inspiring. 

Peter Sambia Headshot

“At the end of the night, there was an audience Q&A. I had to take the opportunity to ask someone of her calibre a question, so I remember asking, ‘Hey, a lot of young people within Brisbane’s creative community feel there isn’t much happening within Brisbane’s fashion space. What would your advice be in regards to tackling this problem?’ 

“She said I should take the initiative and do my own thing. She said, ‘I’m here. You can reach out to me. If you need help, there are resources around you [at the Brisbane Business Hub].’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do that, thank you’. And then the next person who asked a question was Liz Golding [the Director of creative agency Illuminate Management], but she wasn’t asking Alice a question – she was responding to mine.”

“She said, ‘Look, I’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years. I’ve been working hard to facilitate the creative and fashion space… you and I need to have a chat.’ We met outside after the panel, and we just sat and had a conversation. From there on, she became a mentor to me. And I was able to connect with Alice Barbery as well, and plan to work with Universal Store for our upcoming runway show.” 

Peter had taken an interest in the fashion industry after graduating high school in 2017, and had modelled for brands like Culture Kings, Institute and Kokotshil. He then came up with the idea for Praema, a platform that exists to showcase aspiring creatives as a response to the need for accessibility in Brisbane’s fashion and creative industries. It was his encounter with Alice Barbery and Liz Golding at Brisbane Business Hub that gave him the confirmation he needed that he was on the right track.

Peter Sambia at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Show

Peter also met with Amanda Cole, the co-founder of Growth Education Institute (GROEI). Amanda is one of the business experts and industry leaders who have made themselves available for free one-on-one mentoring sessions at the Brisbane Business Hub. 

“Amanda really made me think about things and challenged my perspective, in terms of how I looked at the marketplace,” he says. “She showed me how the events that have been successful here, like the Brisbane Fashion Festival, have grown gradually. And she opened my eyes to how many young, creative individuals there are in Brisbane, and the challenges that they face in trying to create something that will make a real impact.

“For Praema to succeed, I have to believe that it’s going to work no matter what. There’s no special remedy. There’s no special trick or anything like that… but I believe in this, and I’m going to see what I can do.” 

Praema launched with a successful runway show at Lussh in Woolloongabba last November, with a talented line-up of designers showcasing garments that celebrated their diverse cultural heritage. He’s now preparing for the Praema Winter Fashion Show, with more events to follow.

“The launch event was amazing,” Peter says. “We had five different designers from five different ethnic backgrounds – two African designers from Congo and Zimbabwe, a South Korean designer, a First Nations designer representing the Kaantju and Quandamooka people, and an Indian designer – and we were able to feature a lot of local talent on the runway and behind the scenes. We sold out of tickets, and the feedback we got was great. People told us the event had rekindled the flames of creativity for them, and they were inspired and motivated to pursue their own creative ambitions, which was just amazing to hear.” 

Models at Praema fashion show

Peter credits the time he’s spent at the Brisbane Business Hub, and the relationships it’s helped him to build, with putting him on his current trajectory and showing him what was possible. 

“Growing up as an African individual, I didn’t see many people like me on the television doing big things,” he says. “I didn’t see people who looked like me becoming CEOs or Managing Directors or anything like that. But I’m trying to do something. I’m trying to take the initiative… and the Brisbane Business Hub has facilitated a space where I, as a business owner, feel like I belong, because I deserve to be here. 

“The Hub is a space where I can ask Alice Barbery that question. I can connect with Liz Golding. I can have one-on-one time with Amanda Cole… it’s so important to build relationships, real and genuine relationships, and the Hub has helped me do that.” 

To book a free one-on-one mentoring session with one of the experts and thought leaders who are available to help you build your business across every industry and sector, visit businessinbrisbane.com.au/mentoring.

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