East Coast Faces - Mel Johns

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“I’d rather have a life of, ‘Oh wells’ than ‘What ifs’”
— Mel Johns - Townsville Fashion Festival President 2018

When Mel Johns became President of the Townsville Fashion Festival for 2018, her mission was to give back to Townsville’s creative industries with opportunities for designers, hairdressers, makeup artists, models, photographers, videographers, lighting, sound and performance artists to highlight their skills on the runway, in fashion shoots, and at various events across the city through live events, and social and mainstream media.
 “There’s not a lot of accessible resources in Townsville, development, platforms to showcase their talent, without leaving he city and going to a larger town, so we’ve shifted our focus a little bit, we’re not just a committee that puts on a fashion parade, we think of ourselves as more than that.” It costs a lot of money to pursue creative visions, and the industries don’t pay a lot to those who are just starting out, so the Townsville Fashion Festival offers opportunities that might normally be out of reach, “We offer free photography, here’s the makeup, here’s the hair, here’s the models, then there’s the runway and photo shoots, which would normally cost them thousands of dollars. It gives our hair and makeup artists an opportunity to do avant garde looks as well.”

Mel wants to see Townsville as the fashion hub for North Queensland, “We want people from nearby regions to think about going shopping and come to Townsville for the day.”




Passions : “I can never relax, I could never sit down and read a book, I like doing everything, overseeing everything, I love empowering people, and improving my skills as an MUA” (makeup artist)


Beginnings :

I was born and bred in Bowen and couldn’t wait to get out so I literally caught the first train to Brisbane in 1994.
I was there for three years, studying business management and managing a restaurant. We did a lot of events, I love creating that ‘feel’ people get when they walk into the room, I did every party we had growing up, I loved it!
I did a fair bit of hospitality in Brisbane, then I came to Townsville in 1996 and became involved with export, so for the last more than ten years I’ve done export shipping.
 I worked for BHP in sales and marketing when it was QNI. We shipped to different countries, it was the most demanding job I’ve ever done. I was poached by other stevedoring companies, I did a maternity stint at Sunmetals, then was at NSS (Northern Shipping Stevedoring) where I met my partner, and was there until I had my second boy, I’d just been diagnosed with narcolepsy, it just came on me and knocked me for six.
I’d fall into micro sleeps on the phone and in front of the computer, I couldn’t focus any more. I couldn’t drive to Bowen either, only short trips, but because I was pregnant and then breastfeeding, I wasn’t medicated.
I didn’t want it to define me but I had to resign from my career, and my income.
Luckily I’d been an Arbonne rep for about seven years, and I’d trained as a makeup artist, when I was 13 I won the June Dally Watkins Model of the 90s! Coming from Bowen, my friends were going to Townsville for it so I went too, I borrowed stuff to wear, I didn’t think of myself as anything. And yeah so I won that, mum and dad didn’t even come!
After that I did a few fashion parades in Bowen and a bit in Townsville, I’ve always loved fashion…

Personal style :

anything that’s expensive! I love things that don’t really match but look awesome together…

Musical inspo :

I listen to personal development in my car! Music-wise, my parents were partyers so we listened to Freddy Fender, Cliff Richard, everything – I love all genres but I don’t really listen to top 40, I’m a 90s girl so I love all 90s stuff