Student View: Alumni Shadow Day with Sarah Hall, Advertising and Communications ’84

Sarah Hall and I!
Shadow Day! Sarah Hall and I!

Taking part in FIT’s Alumni Shadow Program was a great learning experience. I shadowed Sarah Hall (Advertising and Communications ’84) at her company, Sarah Hall Productions, where I had hands on experience working on real life accounts. As an Advertising student, it was awesome to learn the process of PR that entailed researching, follow-up congrats, and meetings that involved future clients. One of the biggest take-aways from this experience is something that I learned from Sarah Hall. She said in life there are many opportunities and that in order to be successful you have to want it. If you want something bad enough, you have to put in the work and effort. Go to the decision maker, network and don’t burn bridges. She gave me great insight and advice. Check out my interview below!

Why did you choose FIT?
I went on a school tour and remember visiting a painting class, where Blondie was playing in the background. I remember thinking how creative the atmosphere was and how it really spoke to me. The students looked so happy and I felt good vibes. Of course, FIT sounded good on paper, but the tour blew me away.

What is your most memorable FIT experience or professor?
One of my professors, an illustrator, who would say to me, “Sarah, a color isn’t a color unless it’s next to another color.” She taught me to look at color in a different way. Also, just experiencing life on campus was one of the greatest gifts. Everyone was unique in his or her own way. The dorms were filled with life and so many different personalities. To be surrounded by so much creativity was the best experience.

How was the transition between graduation and starting your career?
It was an interesting transition. I had a plan. I told myself that my internship would lead to my first job, and this is exactly what had happened. I worked three nonpaying internships, plus three paying jobs all at the same time. I landed a dream job at Ford Models by going to the owner of the production company I was interning at to ask for help finding a job (unbeknownst to me, he was married to Lacy Ford) and I worked there as an agent for the next 7 years. I highly recommend going to the decision maker. Then I worked at the William Morris Agency (and met my husband there), went on the road with a popstar for a year. Came back and started my own PR company, Sarah Hall Productions, Inc., in 1994.

The Sarah Hall Productions, INC. dream team and I in NYC! And a photo-bomb, facetime cameo: Daniele’s magic trick from flats to sneakers!
The Sarah Hall Productions, INC. dream team and I in NYC! And a photo-bomb, facetime cameo: Daniele’s magic trick from flats to sneakers!

What’s a typical day like?
I spend all day signing new business, brainstorming, meeting with clients regarding their campaign, picking out head shots, introducing clients to managers to help further expand their brand. I also travel to LA and London, working red carpets and signing UK clients who want to be well known brands in America. Everyday is a different day.

Who are some of you clients?
Tony Hawk, a skateboarding icon. I’m very proud with helping build his brand from the beginning. He has a multigenerational audience. Gabrielle Bernstein, a two-time, New York Times bestselling author, and Kelly Clark, a 4 time Olympian as well as many others.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by giving voice to people’s creativity. I’m passionate about representing my clients. My kids are a big source of inspiration. As well as art and traveling.

What’s your favorite city?
London feels like home.

What is your best advice for students and recent graduates?
Few things: Go to the decision maker. Network and try to stay connected to everyone (it takes effort, I know!). Take the job that brings you closer to where you want to be- meaning that not every graduate will get his or her ideal job right off the bat, so be prepared to work your way up. The right opportunity can change your life! Remember to say thank you to the person who helped it happen!

The amazing SPH office, my desk for the day!
The amazing SPH office, my desk for the day!

To learn more about how you can participate in the Alumni Shadow Program, click here and make a difference in one student’s life!

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Words of Wisdom for FIT’s Newest Alumni

Toy Design 2014Last week, we were proud to welcome new grads to the FIT alumni community at the 2014 commencement ceremonies! Ushering in the new generation of leaders, commencement speakers Bobbi Brown and Christian Louboutin shared a wealth of advice and inspirational stories. Bobbi Brown, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, offered her “Five Pillars of Success” at the ceremony for the School of Business and Technology and School of Liberal Arts. Later that afternoon, Christian Louboutin, Founder of Christian Louboutin SA, emphasized the value of friendship and freedom at the ceremony for the School of Art and Design and School of Graduate Studies. Take a look here and please share your own words of wisdom for our newest alumni!

Bobbi Brown’s Five Pillars of Success

Brown blog1. Do what you love.  You already know what passion is. You guys chose FIT. Really smart. You can do anything.

2. More doing and less thinking.  That means go with your gut. If you always worry about what you want to do, you won’t do it.

3. Work hard, but work smart.  Always. Everyday. Nothing is handed to you. And nothing is easy. You are not owed anything.

4. Have no fear.  Don’t be intimated by adults. If you’ve earned a place at the table, take it.

5. Just be nice.  Now this is to yourself and to others. Not everyone in business, especially in our fashion business, is always nice. Get ready. Don’t take it personal. Kill them with kindness.

Watch Bobbi Brown’s entire speech.




Christian Louboutin on friendship and freedom

FIT Louboutin blog“Everyone told me never to do business with friends. Well, I started my company with my two best friends and 23 years later, we are still the three best friends… There is the freedom of joy and working, which I want, but freedom is different for everyone…. It’s freedom of creativity.”

Watch Christian Louboutin’s entire speech.

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Fashion’s Social Media Darling, OscarPRGirl, Gives Glimpse Inside the World of Oscar de la Renta

Erika Bearman, SVP of Global Communications

in conversation with

FIT Alumna Melisssa Lefere-Cobb, SVP of Merchandising & Sales

oscar3Oscar de la Renta Senior VPs, Erika Bearman and Melissa Lefere-Cobb, a Fashion Buying Merchandising 1995 graduate, spoke at FIT as part of the Faces and Places in Fashion lecture series. Lefere-Cobb has been working for the company since 2004, serving as Senior VP of Merchandising and Sales with a focus on all lifestyle products, including fashion jewelry, childrenswear and home. Bearman, known as OscarPRGirl, has been at the company since 2009 as Senior VP of Global Communications. She has garnered over 2 million followers across the brand’s digital platforms.

The two covered a range of topics, including the label’s branding efforts, storytelling on social media, the connection between an Instagram photo and sales, and much more. The interview was what Lefere-Cobb referred to as her “Oprah moment,” carrying a funny, lively, girls-brunching tone that kept students and alumni in the audience fully engaged–all could be heard oohing and aahing at the slides and many were live-tweeting the very quotable fashionistas. Get a glimpse inside the world of Oscar and watch the video below!

“The voice was easy to figure out because it’s me as a storyteller or tour guide.”
-Erika Bearman


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The Coming of Casual

By Deirdre Clemente, M.A., Museum Studies ’04

Historian, FIT alumna, and author of Dress Casual: How College Kids Redefined American Style, Deirdre Clemente, talks about her own journey to casual style and the role FIT plays in shaping modern American fashion.

ClementeI came to casual by defeat. I simply could not pry and zip myself into uncomfortable clothes and stay in them for hours. In my twenties, my best friend chased down taxi cabs and potential husbands in three-inch heels. She slept in a thong. I tried to play the game for a while, but my six-foot-tall frame and profound appreciation for sweat pants won out. Instead, I chose cowboy boots and a pair of overalls that same friend said make me look like an oversized baby. For me, casual is not the opposite of formal. It is the opposite of confined.

Casual is about cobbling. Mix-and-match is a twentieth century thing. A hundred years ago, the closest thing to casual was sportswear—knitted golf dresses, tweed blazers, and oxford shoes. But as the century progressed, casual came to encompass everything from worker’s garb (jeans and lumberman jackets) to army uniforms (khakis, anyone?). Americans’ quest for casual has stomped on entire industries: millinery, hosiery, eveningwear, fur, and the list goes on. It has infiltrated every hour of the day and every space from the boardroom to the classroom to the courtroom. Americans dress casual.

From a historian’s standpoint, casual has shattered cultural standards that have existed for millennia. Personal appearance is no longer a steadfast delinieatro of class. Today, billionaires wear wrinkled button-downs, and the first lady dons Jamacian shorts. Casual has whitewashed gender norms that had required fashionable female silhouettes be held in place by stays and straps. Unisex is a pretty profound concept when you think about it.

FIT has been pivotal to my development as a historian of American fashion and as a purveyor of casual style. The sheer diversity of personal style on campus inspired me to dress down or dress up as inclination (and evening plans) allowed.

A proud graduate of FIT, I now watch from the sidelines, and sometimes wish I could give your many talented fashion bloggers and commentators just a little bit of a history lesson. FIT student Avanti Dalal’s commentary on the site is top-notch. Avanti’s photos capture all that is funny and fabulous about FIT’s fashion. Here’s a sampling of offerings, and a dash of history on the coming of casual and the role that college campuses played in that evolution.

Photo courtesy of Museum at FIT

The Letterman’s Sweater: Like boy bands and soccer shenanigans, sportswear came from England. The letterman’s sweater is the grandson of the yachting club blazer—a Cambridge/Oxford thing from the last decades of the nineteenth century. American Ivy Leaguers picked it up and stuck with the blazer for a while, but the more practical, more casual lettermen’s sweater replaced the blazer in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Originally, each team had their own version of the sweater from v-neck to crewneck to cardigan, but as the century progressed, the styles became standardized, and teams individualized the letter instead. The sweater lost its place of prominence on many college campuses in the mid-1920s when women and then high schoolers took to the garment.


Photo courtesy of Museum at FIT
Photo courtesy of Avanti Dalal, FIT student and College Fashionista contributor











Corduroy Pants: As this FIT student well knows, corduroy is both practical and comfortable, making it the perfect fit for casual style. Early in the twentieth century, corduroy was used for football uniforms at Princeton University, but University of California men took to the fabric and made it their own. Tales of their “dirty cords” were heard across the country and the unwashed pants marked out upperclassmen from the newbies.

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Photo courtesy of Avanti Dalal, FIT student and College Fashionista contributor

Women in Menswear: Shorts, tennis shoes, cardigans and oxford shirts—first worn by men but then stolen by women. In the mid-1930s, women at elite colleges in the Northeast (think Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley) started borrowing their boyfriends’ button-down collared shirts and Brooks Brothers crewneck sweaters. Next came jeans and pants, then sweatshirts and t-shirts. Today, unisex fashions have redefined American femininity and provided the foundation of the American wardrobe.

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Photo courtesy of Avanti Dalal, FIT student and College Fashionista contributor

Dr. Deirdre Clemente is a historian and curator of 20th century American culture, specializing in fashion and clothing. She is an assistant professor of history at University of Nevada Las Vegas. Dr. Clemente earned her MA in Museum Studies from FIT in 2004 and remains an active and proud alumna. Read more about Dr. Clemente at Learn more about Clemente’s book, Dress Casual: How College Kids Redefined American Style.

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Faces and Places in Fashion: A Peek Inside Intimates’ Industry

As part of FIT’s Faces and Places in Fashion lecture series, we were pleased to welcome graduates of FIT and other top leaders from the intimate apparel industry. The talk was moderated by FIT alumna Karen Bromley, Principal of The Bromley Group, and panelists included Victor Vega, EVP at Wacoal and President of UnderFashion Club; Victoria Vandagriff (FMM ’11), President at D2Brands; Barbara Lipton, Group Vice President of Intimate Apparel and Activewear at Macys Merchandising Group; Sonja Winther, President of Chantelle Lingerie; Tina Wilson, Creator of Control freak; Seth Morris, President and CEO of Carole Hochman Design Group; Clelia Parisi (Textile & Apparel Marketing ’81), Vice President of Product Development Merchandising at Macra Lace Company; Amy Bittner (Fashion Design ’11), Design Assistant at Moret Group; Maureen Stabnau, SVP of Merchandising at Bare Necessities; Alexandra Frumberg (Photography ’11), Founder of ALX Creatives.

The talk was live-streamed, which expanded our reach to many others who were able to chime in on Twitter with the hashtag #FITintimates. Following the Q&A portion of the talk, alumni, students and industry professionals enjoyed a networking reception hosted by the Office of Alumni and Faculty Relations. Check out photos from the event and watch the video:

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Student View: Alumni Shadow Day with Latasha Hardy, AMC ’05

lhGetting the opportunity to shadow Latasha Hardy, an Advertising and Marketing Communications 2005 alumna, was a great learning experience. I am also an Advertising and Marketing Communications major, Class of 2015, and she provided me with very insightful career advice that not only helped solidify my career interest but that also encouraged me to broaden my horizons and see that there are various career paths that I can take.

Ms. Hardy is the Building Coordinator of 230 Fifth Avenue New York MarketCenter; she is also a part-time Real Estate Agent for Upton Realty Group and looking into owning her own real estate business one day. A typical day for Ms. Hardy is not just sitting at a desk all day; she is constantly involved within the 230 Fifth Avenue building and wears many hats. She is in charge of creative marketing, tenants and guest affairs, press relations, organizing trade show events, and leasing tasks and building projects. After shadowing Ms. Hardy for a day, you can honestly tell that she truly loves what she does and that being involved in so many things is what keeps her going and keeps her motivated.

My overall shadowing experience has been an amazing opportunity and I have learned a lot from Ms. Hardy. She provided me with career-related advice that was extremely valuable and that has motivated me on the career path I want to take as well as the type of company I want to work for one day. Here’s what she had to say about her studies and work.

Why did you choose FIT?

I’m originally from Maryland and my uncle at the time had moved to NYC to attend the Pratt Institute. I had told him that I wanted to study fashion journalism and to one day be a Fashion Editor at a fashion magazine. I originally was planning on going to LIM to pursue fashion journalism but my uncle said, no, no you need to go to FIT. So that’s what I ended up doing.

What or who was your most memorable FIT experience, project, professor?

My most memorable FIT professor was a woman who worked for WWD, she had inspired me in ways that I never thought I could be inspired to be. With every assignment or project, though I did well on them, she had always pushed me to go beyond my limits and to think outside the box.

Another memorable experience I had at FIT was when I had a class where I learned to create an ad and create an entire magazine. It was one of the most fun and intense assignments I have ever had at FIT but at the end of it all, the results came out great and I loved it.

What is the most valuable thing you learned at FIT?

The most valuable thing I learned at FIT is to be yourself because I feel like FIT students have very creative minds when it comes to their talents, that they should be able to show it in their personality whether it be in an interview or network opportunity.

What happened after graduation?

After graduating, I wanted to do something where I could continue to do marketing and work in a place that had a fun and consistent environment. Most importantly, I wanted to make money because it is hard to make a living in the fashion industry and when it comes to choosing a position I have to think about what they can offer and weigh everything in.

What is your best advice for students and recent graduates?

Best advice I can give is to be persistent, consistent and to network because you might apply for a ton of positions or have the perfect job but sometimes it might not work out like you intended it to. There are a lot of people graduating and not enough work, employers are hiring one person to completely a job when they could hire three people to do that same job as a team.

Remain persistent and consistent by doing your research because it will benefit you and everything will work itself out. When it comes to networking, use the network you already have which is FIT. FIT is great resource and has great job opportunities through Alumni Shadow Programs like this for students to participate in.

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Planting the Seeds for Sustainable Fashion

Textile Development and Marketing Seniors
Bring Rooftop Natural Dye Garden to Life

2014 Class Gift Helps Project Flourish

This Earth Day, we celebrate the extraordinary work of Textile Development and Marketing (TDM) seniors Caitlin Powell ’14, Amber Harkonen ’14, and Meghan Navoy ’14, on their concept for the FIT Rooftop Natural Dye Garden. The concept was selected for the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and was among thousands of proposals submitted by college students across the U.S. and globally. The students recently presented their proposal for the natural dye garden at CGI U which addresses global challenges and underscores FIT’s commitment to sustainability.

To further grow this project, 2014 graduates will be able to play a role in its success by donating to their 2014 FIT Class Gift, as part of the I Chose FIT campaign. We are proud of students’ innovative work in projects like these, and we are grateful that their fellow classmates are committed to keeping FIT on the cutting-edge with their generosity. This garden will be the gift that keeps giving, where future generations of students will be able to gain hands-on learning as it also helps sustain the Earth. We caught up with Caitlin Powell (TDM ’14) about the impact the garden will have, the conference, her studies, and much more.

powell - Copy

Why did you choose FIT?
I really wanted to study Textiles after falling in love with the subject while completing my first degree in Fashion Merchandising at Virginia Commonwealth University. I stumbled upon the Textile Development and Marketing program here at FIT and never looked back. It has been the single best choice I have made in my life.

Which professor or course had the most influence on you?
This is a tough question, because so many professors and courses have steered me in directions I never imagined, but Dr. Arthur Kopelman and his Ecology and Environmental Problems class, was the beginning of my foray into sustainability on the FIT campus. His tireless efforts to make students aware of our climate crisis have been an unwavering torch in the night for me. I never thought that I would find a community like this at a fashion school.

Tell us about working with the FIT community as VP of Sustainability for the FIT Student Association.
Since I am the first VP of Sustainability to ever exist on FIT’s campus, my position was an open book. While I didn’t achieve a lot of the pipe dreams I set my sights on, I did succeed in raising awareness about the impacts that people were having on our environment. I was able to open up a dialogue with people that they had never heard or considered before. People would stop me and say I think twice about printing stuff now because of you or I recycle everything now because of how much you nagged me. While those may be little successes, they mean a whole lot to me. The best thing about my role is the people I’ve gotten to meet. There’s a community of people here at FIT that care about sustainability and social justice initiatives. I never would have found these like-minded individuals if it weren’t for the opportunity I was given as VP of Sustainability.

How did the idea to create the FIT Rooftop Natural Dye Garden arise?
Well, my group member, Amber, had mentioned one day that she had attended a workshop with a professional knitwear designer and natural dyer named Liz Spencer. Amber then invited Liz to come speak to the AATCC Club about her natural dyeing experience. In her discussion, she told her story about starting a natural dye plant garden in London, where she attended school. We thought that was just great. Amber said to me one day, rather flippantly, “I wish we could have a dye garden here at FIT.” Fortuitously, I had just been elected as VP of Sustainability and I said to her, “You know, I can make this happen for us.” Even more fortuitously, the Clinton Global Initiative Think Big Challenge had just come to be and I knew that it was serendipity. We had to put our dye garden idea in there. We never in a million years thought we would be selected, because everyone had such wonderful ideas. Lo and behold, we were chosen!


Congratulations on being selected! As TDM majors, you had an acute awareness and passion for this issue, right?
Amber, Meg, and I are well aware of the toll that the fashion (specifically textiles) industry takes on the environment. I think we were just tired of standing idly by while the industry that we will soon be joining held our planet hostage. This has been our way to mitigate some of our actions that have negatively affected the environment.

How will current and future students benefit from the garden?
The garden will be a place where students can come to learn about why synthetic dyes are so harsh on the environment and also be provided with an outlet to help ameliorate those effects. We hope that students will find serenity in the act of natural dyeing, which can be a laborious, yet rewarding process.

Will it be open to students outside TDM?
Yes, once the garden is fully operational and the first harvest arrives, we will be holding educational workshops for students and faculty from all majors/departments. We really believe in hands-on learning, especially in the great outdoors. We have already had so much interest from students who want to learn more, those who want to help teach, and even from faculty who have botany/horticulture experience. This will absolutely be an interdisciplinary educational and collaborative project, because there is not nearly enough cross-pollination between majors here on campus.

powell 3

Will there be room for expansion?
The wonderful thing about gardens is that they can keep growing and branching in many different directions. I think it will be really interesting to see how each generation of students progresses with the dye garden. Next step, a spice garden. After that, compost and rain collection. Then, a produce garden that provides for the dining hall. Eventually, we want to see natural dyeing and the dye garden incorporated into the curriculum.

We’d really like this project to take on franchise proportions. The idea is that people hear about the dye garden and want to know how they can have one too. Since we (meaning FIT) will have already done the leg-work for them, we can give interested parties a nice little package that tells them exactly how to create their own dye garden. In this way, our tiny seed of an idea can travel from rooftop to rooftop around NYC. Precisely because the city has so many rooftops, it is in a position to become a Mecca of rooftops that help alleviate global warming rather than exacerbate it.

What were some of your personal takeaways from the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University conference?
It was a very humbling experience to be in a setting with so many young people who overflowed with passion, gumption, and enthusiasm for positive solutions. Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea are astounding people. I particularly like how avid they are that people, especially young people, are participating in politics.

What do you plan to do after graduating in a few weeks?
I’m headed out West. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get a job with Patagonia or REI, both of whom are companies that believe in environmental stewardship. The company I work for right now has connections with both of my dream companies, so the future looks very rosy. I also plan on finally having a yard where I can grow all of my own food and, of course, dye plants.

What advice would give to those who want to reduce their carbon footprint in their personal lives and in their work?
Buy less. Think long and hard about where the product you want to purchase came from, but more importantly, where it’s going to go when you’re done with it. Never use plastic bags or bottled water. Eat less (or no) meat. Reduce your consumption of packaged goods. Fresh produce comes in its own, wonderful, miraculous, 100% biodegradable “packaging.” Join a CSA. Support local agriculture.

Posted in Textile Development and Marketing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Squarespace Thinks Outside the Box

Anthony Casalena, Founder of Squarespace,

in conversation with

FIT Alumna Dalia Strum, FMM ’05


FIT alumni and students, known for their creativity and outside-the-box thinking, gathered at FIT to hear from Anthony Casalena, Founder and CEO of Squarespace, who spoke about entrepreneurship and how to turn great ideas into thriving businesses. As a college student, Casalena recognized a need to make website building more efficient, appealing and accessible to anyone. As a result, Squarespace was born out of his dorm room. Squarespace is an all-in-one website publishing platform, offering a framework for those great, big ideas. In our technology-driven world, being able to create a custom website that best reflects a brand’s  identity is of utmost importance to entrepreneurs, from fashion designers, to photographers, to fine artists.

With clients such as Michael Kors and Rodarte, Casalena continues to grow the company–most recently reaching 50 million viewers with a Superbowl commercial this January. The talk starts off with the highly entertaining commercial and leads into a lively discussion moderated by FIT alumna Dalia Strum (FMM ’05). Watch below and be sure to join us at a future Faces & Places in Fashion lecture!


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Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Howard, Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing and Management ’05

Nicole Howard ELC Celebrates Partnership With FIT Masters Program 3.4
Michelle Schleck (MPS, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management ’03); Dr. Joyce Brown, FIT President; Mark Polson; and Nicole Howard (MPS, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management ’05) at the Estee Lauder FIT Alumni Reception

Earlier this month, we were delighted to meet Nicole Howard, a 2005 graduate of FIT’s Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management (CFMM) master’s program, who has taken on the role of Executive Director of Global Corporate Innovation at The Estée Lauder Companies. We caught up with her at a recent reception that celebrated the flourishing careers of CFMM alumni who are working across various brands, regions and functions at The Estée Lauder Companies. Read what she had to say about the long-lasting partnership between FIT and the company, the valuable connections that have helped her succeed in the industry, and some of her must-have beauty products!

Tell us about your academic background.
I attended Vassar College for undergraduate school, Class of 2000, Major in Economics/Minor in French. I then received an MPS in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management from FIT in 2005. I also completed my MBA at Columbia University, Class of 2011.

That’s a very interesting and diverse education. Why did you choose FIT?
I specifically chose FIT because the MPS in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management was the perfect program to complement my career and pave the way for future growth and long term success in the beauty industry. It was the perfect environment to grow my understanding and knowledge of the industry beyond just the world of Product Development, where I first started my career.

Did the CFMM program fit your work schedule?
Yes, it was designed as a part-time, evening degree which allowed me to still have a full time job and immediately put my classroom learnings to use at my company.

What would you consider most valuable about your FIT experience?
The incredible network of students and alumni. I have contacts and both personal and professional relationships across the industry that enrich my work and broaden my knowledge of the industry being able to tap into resources and insights from other students.

Those connections and resources seem to have played an important role in your career, working for such companies as Origins, Bumble and bumble, MAC, and now Estee Lauder Companies—just to name a few! What inspired you to begin working in the beauty and cosmetics industry?
During my undergraduate years, I had the opportunity to intern for The Estee Lauder Companies Corporate Retreat at Vassar College. It allowed me to learn about many aspects of the company and the industry, see first hand this was an industry and company that highly support women and also exposed me to products that I love. I have always been a beauty junkie and it is amazing how I leveraged a personal passion into a professional career.

It was wonderful to meet you and all the graduates from the program who are working at Estée Lauder at the alumni reception. Talk about the company and the importance of this alumni group.
The ELC FIT alumni group is an internal organization that helps to foster continued learning and networking amongst alumni in order to leverage our strengths, experience with the program and to stay connected as part of the FIT community. It offers special events and access to Senior Leadership as well as other opportunities to instill the ELC culture across the organization.

What does your new role at Estée Lauder entail?
I am presently the Executive Director of Global Corporate Innovation. We are the team who focused on the long term innovation pipeline for the organization to ensure we have breakthrough technology and concepts that can support company growth over the long term. We then leverage technology and conceptual platforms across multiple brands and categories such as skin care and color for large-scale success versus just one product.

Tell us about a mentor in your life who has had a lasting influence on you.
Mrs. Jeanette Wager, Chairman Emeritas of The Estée Lauder Companies. She is offers best in class insight and has great perspective on both how the company has grown and opportunities for the future. I always seek her insight on any next steps in my career and have stayed in touch with her since she was confirmed as my mentor over ten years ago.

What advice would you give to someone interested in applying to the CFMM master’s program at FIT?
Go for it! It will be a life changing experience from an academic and professional perspective. Also the network and friendships that you will build will be a very valuable tool for the future.

Do you have any exciting ventures in the works?
I have a personal passion for travel and determined to see and visit new countries as often as I can. I also volunteer with Project Sunshine.

As a self-proclaimed “beauty junkie,” what are your top three can’t-live-without products on your shelf?
That’s tough! I would say MAC Mineralize Foundation, Bumble and bumble Spray de Mode, and Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede fragrance.

What advice would you like to share with peers and current students as they pursue their dreams?
Don’t get overwhelmed and focus on your goals. Prioritize one or two projects that are important to you and don’t spread yourself too thin. Also, have the confidence to believe that in spite of overloaded schedules, school work and personal tasks, it will all come together and work out. Believe that you will be a success.

Learn more about the Master’s in Professional Studies, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management.

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Behind the Scenes with FIT Alumna Tae Smith

Faces & Places in Fashion Lecture Series


Tae Smith, Costume & Production Design Researcher on The Great Gatsby

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As part of FIT’s Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series, we were pleased to welcome FIT alumna Tae Smith (MA, Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice), who served as Costume & Production Design Researcher on the feature film The Great Gatsby. Alumni, students and friends of FIT enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at Smith’s work bringing literary characters and scenes to life and working closely with Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann.

Smith discussed the intersection of fashion, history, literature and film, and some of the challenges that arose in the research process. She encountered dualities between historical fact versus fictional writing, aesthetic vision versus artifacts of the time period, 1920s fashions versus interpretation of characters’ styles. The filmmakers raised questions such as Can we put a phone on a pedestal in Buchanan’s hallway? What did a room at The Plaza look like in 1922? Which hat is more historically accurate? Can we find an example of this contemporary shoe in the 1920s? Smith supplied the answers to questions in 1-2 page “cheat sheets” for the production and costume designers. She relied heavily on excerpts from the book and also credited invaluable resources like the Cooper Hewitt Library, New York Historical Society, and our very own Special Collections & FIT Archives.

The end product was a beautiful, visually captivating film, composed of so many details in which Tae’s research played an important role. Not long after Smith’s talk, we were thrilled to learn that the The Great Gatsby film won the Oscar for Best Production Design! Watch the video of Tae Smith’s talk here:

Take a look at photos from the talk and reception by clicking here. For more information about upcoming Faces & Places in Fashion talks, click here.

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