Alumni Spotlight: Sara Medd `06 (AAS and BS Fashion Merchandising Management)

Sara Medd photo by Robin Roemer   

Sara Medd – `06 (Fashion Merchandising Management) Stylist and Founder of “Greyscale Goods”, a unique shopping platform, wherein clients can register and receive shipments of styled looks that are gender-neutral and easily attainable.  Here she speaks to us about how FIT has influenced her business and how FIT’s tools and education have made her dreams a reality. 

So we’re going to step back to look at your time here.  What was it like here for you at FIT?

Sara: It was really good. I was really happy that it was a very business-centric program. I felt like it was the perfect preparation for my career.  After graduation, I got a job at Tahari and I was in sales for a private label that we did for Dillard’s. I was doing wholesale for about a year and a half and then I moved into the design department and they gave me the opportunity to be an Associate Designer, but essentially it was a merchandising role. It was a lot of product development: adapting existing styles versus actual design. I was perfectly prepared to be in a product development role because of the FMM degree, so I really felt comfortable.

What class or classes were the most influential for you? 

Sara: Oh, it’s been so long. I do have memories of certain classes that were most enjoyable to me. I definitely think that my product development class was incredibly helpful. It was a workshop type of class and I remember wanting to really sink my teeth into that because we went through the process of designing and essentially putting together and merchandising a collection. I loved my e-commerce class.  That was probably one of my favorite classes. It was in depth about putting together an e-commerce site.

Do you recall the most valuable experience that you had here at FIT?

Sara: I think that the strong business core of the FMM program has now been so beneficial in creating Greyscale Goods: writing a business plan, accounting, buying. I’m so thankful I had those business classes. Also, I would say just the mere fact that FIT is in New York and being in Manhattan.  I think that it allows natural opportunities to arise and having access to the speakers that would come in (I believe we had amazing speakers because we were so convenient to stop by).  I think that being able to go to the fashion district and use M&J trimmings, or to go to Mood Fabrics on any given day was so convenient. The access is so much greater because everything is right there. You know what else I really enjoyed?  I remember doing office visits and being able to go into buyers offices. It was like a field trip. We would go in and talk to the buyers and also visit wholesale showrooms. That was definitely a standout opportunity that you don’t get at just any school. It was a very specific-to-FIT opportunity and it was a valuable experience.

How did you get into styling from product development? Describe the timeline in your biography.

Sara: I was in that product development role until October 2009, but just before that, (probably that summer) I started realizing that I was not made to sit in an office in front of a computer for 8 or 9 hours a day.  I realized that, while my job was fulfilling in some ways, I essentially wanted to work for myself.  The role of a stylist seemed natural for me. In some ways, styling is kind of like product development, bringing together existing elements and then putting them together in a new way that makes sense and is interesting. Product development uses existing styles and puts them together into a collection that is tight and concise. Styling is putting together the best parts of what other designers have already created into a picture or an outfit that makes sense for the client.

I first started taking intern positions at Vogue Russia and Vogue Italia, so I was working with some pretty big stylists on these amazing shoots. I was just enamored immediately. I also was assisting on small paid jobs. Basically I researched “how to be a stylist”. Then the interning part was essential. I think that for anyone who wants to be a stylist, interning is crucial. Essentially, styling is an apprenticeship program and unfortunately, you can’t expect to get paid for it for at least six months until you learn the ropes and prove that you can work autonomously and know what’s going on.  I was fortunate enough to learn under an assistant stylist at Vogue International, William Graper, who was a great teacher. He is an incredibly talented key stylist and actually just got signed at The Wall Group. So exciting! Also, one of the girls who was assisting and interning with me on a Vogue Italia shoot for Edward Enninful is now Lori Goldstein’s first assistant, so that’s very exciting. Assistant styling is a small world and we are all really supportive of each other.

In 2010, I moved from New York to LA to continue assisting and styling.

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What is it that you love about styling?

Sara: I think essentially what keeps me going is that every day is different. I never really know what I’m going to walk into and I thrive on that, just personally. Also, I think now that I’ve been in styling for so long, that most of my recommendations and most of the jobs that I’m hired for are through word of mouth, so I’ve ended up having the lovely opportunity to work with amazing people. It’s these curated teams of people who have worked together for years so it’s like a work family. I’m working constantly with different people and different stylists (I still do a lot of assisting).  I really enjoy making another stylist’s dreams come to life because I think deep down, I don’t have that artist quality in my core where I need to get something on paper. I enjoy hearing someone else’s vision and making it happen. So being an assistant and working with someone like Patti Wilson or Lori Goldstein, where they have that vision, that sort of internal drive to create something, is fulfilling to me.  It’s like this team effort and I get to make it happen.

What made you decide to create Greyscale Goods?

Sara: I view clothing as a language of expression. For a lot of people who aren’t really interested in fashion, clothing is not a natural expression for them. I enjoy being able to help people in this area, listen to them, and then translate it into clothing.   Additionally, in our society, and this is really the inspiration for Greyscale, I’ve noticed that men’s and women’s departments are so polarizing. You walk into a store and instantly the first decision you have to make is, “Am I walking into the men’s department or am I walking into the women’s department? Which side do I want to start shopping in?” In my experience (I’m gay and I’m involved in the LGBT community), I’m surrounded by a lot of women who are more masculine and who like to shop in the men’s department.

Unfortunately there is a lack of resources for style inspiration for this market. There are some great blogs, but there are not magazines out there for them to look at for inspiration and shopping advice. There’s not a Lucky Magazine for masculine women. My inspiration come from these women who are having to navigate style themselves and creating a safe space where they can find good quality clothing that is label-less – it’s not labeled as one gender or the other. They’ll tell me what their style is and I’ll pick out the clothes that I think will fit them. I may be shopping in women’s showrooms but I’m choosing and curating the most androgynous items from these showrooms and not necessarily saying, “This is from the women’s department.”  It’s just a well-fitting, good quality shirt that is going to look the way you want it to look. So again, it’s kind of that same theme through my career: curating something that’s already been created, taking the best of it and putting it together in a new sort of way. This new outlet, this new way that I’m presenting it, is “grey”. It’s a grey area of style. It’s the tomboy, the androgynous, the sometimes more masculine, but really just the center-of-center.

I was curious as to how you choose your looks and your styles?

I’m creating a brand right now, so I’m going to keep my look and my overall seasonal selection simpler to begin with.  I’m going to be limited to buying in New York and LA in the beginning. I think LA is doing some good things as far as just simple, basic kinds of styles. There are some awesome brands in the US that are doing the androgynous look or the tomboy look and I think that the influence that companies have, from J. Crew through Jenna Lyons, has been helping that spread. It’s commercializing the tomboy look as classic.  I’m only going to be shipping initially in the states, but I have a huge number of supporters from all over the world.  It is exciting, but that means I’m going to have to quickly figure out how to ship globally.

As far as the states, I actually have a lot of customers and support from the Bay Area, up near San Francisco – definitely a lot from LA and the midwest – just really right in the center (Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and middle America). I expected that, just because of my knowledge of this target customer. There is very little access to androgynous brands and progressive companies in that area.

In New York and LA we have companies like TopShop, TopMan, Uniqlo, and even Nordstrom has great options. However, I want to increase the accessibility to boutique companies, so I’m going to be supporting a lot of small businesses and bringing them into my offerings to help customers have easier access to them, and for them to reach customers more easily.

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With that, where do you hope to see yourself in the next two years and the next five years with Greyscale Goods?

Sara: I definitely want Greyscale Goods to keep growing. I think in the next two years I would say I want to grow the team first. Right now I’m a one-woman show and I would love to have a strong small team that is all working towards the same goal alongside me.  I would like to be (hopefully) shipping globally, and also I’m really anxious to add in plus size inventory because that’s another underserved market, especially in this tomboy aesthetic. So, I’m really looking forward to increasing my inventory to plus size offerings and adding global shipping. I just want growth in sales and customers in the next two years. I just want to be able to reach everyone who wants to be reached. I think in the next five years, I would love to be where Stitch Fix and Trunk Club are. They’re both currently valued around 350 million dollars, clearly incredibly successful. I want to be the J. Crew of the “subcom” world; the “go-to” for classic wardrobe.

It seems like your company empowers those shoppers that you just mentioned before that don’t really use clothes as their expression, yet they still want to express themselves. Feel free to speak more about that.

Sara: Sure. Empowerment is a great word to use for that because everyone should feel empowered to be themselves. I think it’s so important for everyone to find that happy place where you look on the outside the way you feel on the inside. In the current shopping environment they’re still feeling judged for what they want to wear. You know clothing is an expression and clothing can be an extension of you, it’s often the first thing people see when you walk in a room. They’re noticing you as a whole but clothing covers a large area of our body, so it’s an important opportunity to offer an impression to people. If you’re offering the wrong information to people when you meet them, then it’s easy to be misjudged for who you are. Greyscale Goods is giving people the tools, the resources, and actually putting it in their hands and saying “here it is”.  “I’m listening to what you’re saying, what you want to look like, and I’m translating that into clothing and here it is.” Empowering customers is one of my key goals for Greyscale Goods.greyscale.4 photo by Amanda Saugstad

What advice do you have for FIT alumni and for graduating students with your personal experience, being out in the world afterwards and also being an entrepreneur while building your company? 

Sara: Open your ears and open your eyes. Pay attention to all the opportunities offered because while I wasn’t using my business management classes or my accounting classes in the first five years after graduating, I’m using them now and I’m thankful for those. So you never really know where your career is going to go in the long run. I would say pay attention to everything that you’re learning because those things could come in handy down the road, even if you don’t see it happening in the first five years. One thing that I tell my sister (in college right now) and anyone else in college or looking at colleges, is that internships are crucial. Internships will form so many relationships in your career and you just have to take advantage of as many as possible, and really value those as learning opportunities. I think that at FIT, a big drawing point for me was the opportunity of all the internships that they have access to and the connections FIT has with the fashion industry.

Do you plan on coming back to New York or are you set on staying in the West Coast?

Sara: I love New York and I still come back. I work with a production company during fashion week so I’m still back twice a year for work, and I plan to come back for buying trips for Greyscale Goods. I feel like New York is in my blood. I’ve always wanted to live in New York and I did for seven years. It was a great experience for me and a lot of my close friends are still there.  I would say that it’s not out of the question to come back. As of now, I don’t see a move happening any time soon, but I will always love it. New York is in my heart and I absolutely can’t go a year without coming back.  So as long as I have that opportunity to travel between cities still on the table, I’m going to stay based in Los Angeles.

Sara, thank you for participating in our Alumni Blog and FIT welcomes you back anytime!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/547476930/greyscale-goods-beyond-labels-just-goodsunnamed

 

 

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Alumni Spotlight: Yuka Hasegawa, Fashion Design`02

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Yuka Hasegawa was born in Kyoto, Japan, studied fine art at the School of Visual Arts, and received a scholarship to study at Aborigine Cultural History and Art Works in Australia. She then studied graphic arts via a scholarship from the Salzburg Fine Art Academy in Austria. In 1997, she returned to New York and finished a BFA degree in Fashion Design in 2002. Yuka specializes in hats and was discovered by Barneys at an FIT painting show. Her work is featured in Barneys New York, Takashimaya, Isetan and select retail boutiques in New York, Beverly Hills, and Japan. She has also been exhibited in over 100 national museums, galleries, and institutions worldwide. Yuka’s designs have been worn by Britney Spears, Scarlett Johansson, and photographed by Annie Liebowitz, amongst many others. Here she sits down to tell us her fascinating journey of passion and coincidences.

1. How did you start at FIT and what was your journey like?

One day, when I visited New York, I walked on 7th Avenue and saw a building with the word “Fashion” on it, which I was curious about it. I just walked in and met a woman that I didn’t know, who turned out to be a Professor of Fashion and Design (Josephine Di Iorio). She was intrigued by how I was dressed, came up to me and asked if I needed any help. I asked her, “What is this building for?” She said, “This is a school.” I said “Wow, I’ve always wanted to learn to sew.” Then she asked me if I could draw, I said yes. She asked me to sketch a design as if I was designing for the First-Lady Hilary Clinton, and I did. She was pleased with my work and took me straight to the Assistant Chairperson (Jimmy Newcomer) at the time. He took a look at my design and said it was exceptional and to go start a class right away. I said, “I don’t understand.” He then squeezed me into the sewing class right then and there. I started sewing and they enrolled me into FIT all in the same day. I didn’t expect it. I was thinking, “I already have two degrees. Why do I need another one?” But I knew that I really wanted to sew. Although, I had to return to Japan, they ended up holding a spot in the program for me. I was so excited to learn everything and continued at FIT by enrolling in an accessories and jewelry class, majoring in fashion design. That’s where I learned how to make hats. It just opened up my world.

2. How did your hat design company begin?

In 2003, I had a painting show downtown and a Barneys New York buyer came by to see my work. They saw my outfit and hat and asked where I shopped. I said, “I made it – it’s my FIT homework.” I had no space where I could keep my designs, so I had to wear them. They seemed impressed and wanted to work with me. I was unaware at the time of the opportunity in front of me (since I was so busy with other projects), however they were very persistent and kept calling me, so in return, I just brought them a large garbage bag with full of hats that were designed as part of my FIT homework assignments. From that, I was surprised to receive my first order from Barneys. I was nervous since I didn’t have any production resources, plus I was still a student at the time (taking a couple of extra classes).

Later, I met a man in the elevator that expressed his interest in my hat that I was wearing. He soon became my manager (Lawrence Adler Grossberg). He is still my manager and continues to support and encourage my growing business.

3. Where do you find your inspiration?

The reason I started making hats is because I couldn’t find my size and hats didn’t fit me correctly. I always loved fashion but I couldn’t sew. So instead, I would buy a hat, squeeze it, scrape it, tear it, paint it, and change it to make it fit me by recreating it to my style. I already had a background in printing and coloring from graphic arts, which honed-in on my individual technique and skills. As such, everything I created was for myself, custom made. I made what I wanted to and not really for the industry. I don’t look at many magazines or watch much television. I just created something that I would wear myself.

When I was in class at FIT, I had to make an illustration board. It was a struggle for me because I had to use what was already designed by someone else. That didn’t inspire me. I create from within myself.

What is my goal, everybody asks? I don’t have one because I wasn’t expecting to be a fashion designer. All of it happened suddenly and coincidentally. I’m just being me right now – that’s Yuka – that’s it.

4. What obstacles have you overcome? You had a health scare at one point – would you mind telling us about this?

In 2009, I was at a trade show and a cancer foundation asked if I could support them by donating my hats. I did, and they ended up auctioning my designs for a program that offered free mammography exams in mobile units for women over 40. Shortly after, they offered to come to my neighborhood to setup free screenings. I went, and they discovered I had breast cancer. I said, “Are you sure!?” They said, “You need surgery next week.” I was shocked and said I was very busy and could not cancel anything in my schedule.

Later in the day, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was in a nearby restaurant with my manager who came with me. I was crying and all of a sudden two nurses (who were from the hospital) found me and told me they had a cancellation and I could have the surgery on Monday. I was super lucky. It made me more relaxed because I did not need to cancel my exhibition in NY and Tokyo, the following week. I had a mastectomy and plastic surgery all in one day. One surgeon took it off, and one put it back on so well, that you could hardly notice a difference! In one week I was done with the diagnosis and surgery! I had to show up for the opening party of my exhibition, and I secretly made two pockets in my dress for my drain bag. Then, I showed up at my show in downtown New York. No one knew what was going on under my dress. Thankfully, I’m cancer free for 5 years now, and I will be running a 5K for cancer. I will also be joining Fashion Fights Cancer to support survivors like me. I attend all follow up events and seminars as I learn new things all the time.

5. Do you believe in luck – it seems like you have so many coincidences?

It seems like everything was set-up for me, but the luck comes after – first there needs to be passion and focus, then the luck and support follow.

6. What advice would you like to share with peers and current students?

I think the two most important things are first; embrace the FIT curriculum. It’s thoughtfully designed to open your eyes to a new world and provide the basics for a foundation to build on. The second is; try new classes. Explore the various historical materials and mediums in the pursuit of your passion.

7. What would you consider most valuable about your FIT experience?

I really appreciated the professors’ support when I was a student. They gave me a lot of opportunities. My most exciting memory was when they chose me to represent the USA in an international competition in Beijing, China. They gave me a room to work in at the school and assistants to create my own collection. I traveled with the Chairperson to Beijing, which was an unforgettable experience from my school days.

8. Thank you for sitting down with me Yuka and sharing your amazing life journey. You have and will continue to inspire current FIT students and alumni.

I just wanted to thank Professor Jospehine Di Iorio, Assistant Chairperson Jimmy Newcomer, Professor Francesca Sterlacci, and Dr. Valerie Steele for giving me support and opportunities after graduating FIT.

Visit Yuka’s website: http://www.yukany.com/home-J.htm

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Alumni Spotlight: Kit Scarbo, Fashion Design ’04

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Christina “Kit” Scarbo (Fashion Design ’04), a Los Angeles-based stylist and costume designer, started her television styling career at E! News and spent many years as a costumer on Dancing With The Stars. She currently works for AMC and Comedy Central dressing famed comedian Chris Hardwick. Kit recently returned to New York City to conduct research at the Special Collections & FIT Archives for her second feature film, Cardinal X, which is based in 1984. It was great to meet with Kit during her visit to learn more about her FIT studies and the 1980s fashion gems she found in FIT’s archives.

Welcome back to FIT and congrats on your incredible work back in LA!
Thank you! It feels great to be back. Lots of memories.

Coming from the West Coast, tell us why you chose to study at FIT.
I wanted to attend a school outside of California. New York City seemed like the best place to study Fashion Design, and I liked the business background that FIT incorporates into the design curriculum. Also, the Polimoda program abroad was a big draw.

What would you consider most valuable about FIT?
The location. The ability to have a fashion education in NYC is incredible–as well as the international location in Florence, Italy. My two-year experience in Florence, Italy at Polimoda truly shaped my career. From discovering the most inspiring landscape, to the emphasis on couture techniques, to the friendships I made with teachers and fellow students which have continued until this day.

Was there a particular professor that had a lasting influence on you?
Professor Kim Coston at Polimoda was a huge influence on my concept development skills. She really opened my mind to a whole new way of seeing and designing. She was so passionate about the fashion industry as well, and lent an incredible sense of function to design concept without ever limiting fantasy. She also really engaged the students with each other, and we all learned so much from each other. It really celebrated the glory of education- being surrounded with other artists learning and growing, while having your ideas guided and curated by an incredible mind like Professor Coston’s.

That education has clearly come through in your work.
Definitely. I started my career as a stylist in Los Angeles, but my ability to sew, design, and sketch also allowed me to take jobs that needed specialized vision. It was formative for me to be able to execute my own vision on a dime at the beginning of my career because I didn’t have to outsource for custom builds or tailoring. This demonstration of skills on styling jobs eventually led me to be hired by directors for costume design.

So now you’re shifting into more film work. Tell us about your costume design gig on Cardinal X.
I am the Costume Designer for a new indie drama Cardinal X. The Director and Producer came to me for the film after seeing my first feature film G.B.F., directed by Darren Stein. G.B.F. is the new Clueless of sorts, a high school-based fashion film. I dressed a large ensemble cast in a colorful and exciting vision. Angie Wang, the writer and director of Cardinal X, saw my work in G.B.F. and my ability to dress a large cast in a curated vision and tapped me for the job.

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When does the film take place?
Angie has created her life story in this film, which pinpoints her college years in 1984 – 1985.

The costume work for that time period must be fun!
Totally. Angie has great style and there are many scenes that take place at clubs and college parties with characters from all demographics. Thus, Cardinal X will definitely be an extreme fashion film, much like G.B.F. These are some of my favorite shots from my research.

 


Looks like you’ve hit a treasure trove of 80s gems at FIT’s Special Collections and Archives!
Yes, I got so immersed in the archives. The resources are so incredible, I could have spent days there!

As a former Project Runway contestant, you are not one to shy away from a challenge! What are some of the challenges of working on this indie film?
Money! Money is always the challenge on an indie film. But it makes one very creative- so I look forward to the challenge. Also I am very adventurous so I love a challenge- which is how I ended up back in NYC at FIT to do research. I took a road trip- driving from Austin to NYC collecting the best of early 80s vintage from vintage shops and Goodwills, antique malls. In Little Rock, Arkansas, I bought nearly 75 garments for $120! Some vintage pieces even with tags still!

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Speaking of favorite things and fashion finds, what’s your…
Favorite item on your desk/workspace: Muji mechanical pencils

Most memorable costume design experience: Putting Clorace Leechman in a vynle jumpsuit for a peoples choice awards comedy spoof

Favorite film or show: TV show! True Detective

Describe your style in three words: Sci-Fi Rock Mystic

Can’t-live-without garment: Black Leather Jacket

Oldest garment in your closet: I have a navy silk velvet gown in my closet from the 1920s… it technically the oldest. Oh! I also have a Victorian blouse from the 1890s. But the garment I personally have owned the longest is a pink tee shirt from when I was l.

The next adventure: Shooting Cardinal X

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FIT Alumna Tanya Brown’s Social Media Tips for Creatives

Tanya_Brown4x4 - CopyTanya Brown (Textile and Surface Design ’97) is a graphic and textile designer and founder of the legging wear brand, Schatzi Brown. She incorporates watercolors, painted textures, hand drawn motifs, with digital collage techniques to create her patterns & illustrations, which have a Beachy Bohemian vibe.

As any business owner knows, Tanya recognizes the power social media has in her branding efforts. Through a plethora of channels, including FIT’s Behance and Etsy alumni groups, she reaches new audiences and tells her brand’s story. Tanya has published articles for various media organizations on the topic of entrepreneurship and social media, so we asked her to share her top tips on how creatives can use social media strategically to grow their businesses.

Be sure to join us for the upcoming alumni panel discussion, Behance: Gain Exposure for Your Creative Work, where she will offer great insight alongside other alumni entrepreneurs.

Tanya Brown’s Social Media Tips

Posting your work in the public arena and to social media can be a key component in your success as a creative professional. Whether you’re a fashion designer or fine artist or photographer, social media can help get you noticed, bring job offers, projects and create a following for your work. Before you decide to start uploading your work make sure you have these things in place:

Be secure in your voice and point of view.
Build up a good repertoire and variety of work that represents you and your talents before going public.

Pick a distinct name.
Make sure you have chosen a name, whether it’s your real name or brand name, that can be consistent across sites, especially for your main portfolio site. I design under the name Schatzi Brown. The word “Schatzi” is a German term of endearment, like sweetheart in English. My color color palettes and patterns are drawn from the world around me living on Long Island and through my many travels. I make sure that those aspects are conveyed visually across all platforms.

Also, consider carefully separating your personal SM from your professional SM, unless there is relevancy. For example, if you are a fashion blogger and you Instagram your outfits everyday, it makes sense that you are your brand. If you are a package designer, on the other hand, future clients may not want to see pictures of your beach vacation mixed with your work.

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Lay it out.
Take pride in your body of work and decide how you’re going to showcase it. It’s important for artists and creatives to have a main website and then redirect people out to their social media from there. Behance can easily be used as a main portfolio site and is great resource for a more industry-focused audience. FIT Portfolios on Behance is a great way to get noticed by recruiters who are looking for talent out of FIT, for example. Another advantage to using a portfolio site like Behance is that you can show more detail and variety of projects that you wouldn’t want to mix in on your main website. I think it’s important to have both a main portfolio site and SM to help you network with other disciplines or collaborate on projects. The more your work is seen in different platforms, the more likely you are to be found by people you want to work with or connect with.

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The Channels.
Know the functionality of each channel you’re using. I will often get contacted for freelance work specific to textile design through Behance or my main website, but I am more likely to receive an Etsy sale which was driven from a Facebook post or an Instagram photo. I received a licensing deal from my work posted on Society6 and other offers from people who saw my work on Pinterest. Exposure can come from many different sources.

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Branching out.
After your main portfolio site is set up, choose one to two social media outlets at a time to branch off your main site and start building an audience. Adding too many social media outlets at once can be overwhelming and become a job in and of itself.

Flaunt it (in moderation).
We live in the age of self-promotion, so hashtag, hashtag, hashtag! At the same time, don’t over-post. Space out your posts so your audience has something to look forward to. Try to tell a story and be professional. There is an art to sharing just enough vs. over-sharing.

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Pinner beware!
Once you take the plunge and put your work in the public arena, it is difficult, if not impossible, to take it back. Understand that by using SM to promote your work and portfolio, it will be open for praise, review, critique and possibly even stolen and your copyright violated. Familiarize yourself with basic copyright laws or image use. Do what you can to protect your work, most often the positive will outweigh the negative.

Join us for the New Media x Entrepreneurship Alumni Talk Series, where you can learn about different new media platforms to help your business thrive. Be sure to RSVP for the upcoming talk on Behance, where you can hear from alumnus and founding member of Behance Alex Krug (AMC ’04), textile designer Tanya Brown (Textile and Surface Design ’97), graphic designer Joe Vinci (Advertising Design ’10), and motion graphics designer Rachael Park (Communications Design ’12). 

 

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Ryan Moakley Named FIT Student Association Manager of Networking & Alumni Relations

photoCongratulations on becoming the FIT Student Association’s Manager of Networking & Alumni Relations! Tell us about this role.
It’s a newly created role in the association that aims to connect students with alumni and professionals in the industry through various networking events. My position is very similar to Leah’s position as VP of Alumni Relations; however, she is on the executive board and my position is on the programming board. Essentially, I was given a budget to create events on campus and Leah will be my partner in crime! We’ll be collaborating on many events, including the Alumni Shadow Program.

What made you interested in this position?
I realized how important networking is and how it can impact your career. I wanted to give students the tools and opportunities to create connections they normally wouldn’t have.

What are some programs you plan on organizing to connect alumni and students?
I’m extremely excited to have Professor Joel Ehrlich speak during the fall. He was one of my professors here at FIT. I know that students could benefit from hearing from him as well as other alumni in the industry. Alumni can volunteer by signing up here.

From a student’s perspective, how important is the role of alumni in students’ success?
The role of alumni in students’ success is critical. Many of my professors at FIT are alumni and have provided me with great insight and opportunities I wouldn’t normally have access to.

What’s your major and expected grad year?
I’m currently enrolled in Fashion Merchandising Management. I plan to matriculate into Advertising Marketing Communications for my upper division and graduate in 2017!

Why did you choose FIT?
I toured so many schools during my high school career. None of those institutions had a reputation or opportunities like FIT. I wanted to immerse myself in the industry and FIT was clearly the perfect place to do so.

What are some of your favorite courses and professors so far?
I loved Contemporary Retail Manager with Professor Oliveri, Introduction to the Fashion Industry with Professor Shapiro, Advertising and Promotion with Professor Ehrlich. These professors truly influenced and impacted my education at FIT. I’m so grateful for it.

Are you part of other organizations or clubs aside from the student association? Any summer internships or jobs?
I’m also the Industry Liaison for the Merchandising Society. I’m heavily involved in the Merchandising Society and Style Shop. Over the summer, I worked as a Client Relations Specialist at Kate Spade and interned at Target 10, a niche-marketing firm that specialized in integrated marketing communications within the LGBT community. It was such a great experience.

What do you plan to do after graduating?
After graduation I plan to stay in New York. I’m currently living in Brooklyn, and I intend on remaining there. I hope to work in fashion PR, marketing or social media.

What message would you like to share with students interested in getting involved in your alumni programming?
Don’t expect anyone to hand you success on a silver platter. Get involved and leave your own legacy!

 

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Alumni Spotlight: Stephanie Flor, Advertising and Marketing Communications ’12

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Ayurveda Treatment in India Retreat Rasa Ayurveda : Oil Bath for the head Shirovasti

Beauty Has No Boundaries:

A Q&A with Makeup Artist and World Traveler Stephanie Flor


 

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Since graduating, Stephanie Flor (Advertising and Marketing Communications ’12) has visited over 16 countries documenting beauty rituals and traditions from different cultures on her blog, Around the World Beauty. The blog’s audience is quickly growing, and Flor was just featured in Glamour magazine’s September issue. We caught up with Stephanie to hear about her career as a makeup artist and world traveler, her insight about definitions of beauty from country to country, and some of her favorite beauty secrets.

First of all, congratulations on your piece in Glamour magazine’s September issue!
Thank you! The Make Your Mark piece is very exciting for me, and I’m thrilled to inspire other female entrepreneurs with my story.

You have a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, with the launch of your beauty blog and your travels. Tell us about the mission behind Around The World Beauty.
Through my travels and blog, it is my mission to keep beauty heritage alive and support women in connecting with their beauty roots. If you want to learn about your beauty heritage, click the country and you’ll learn about traditions, beauty stories, and also DIY recipes that you can use. It’s all about the reader walking away learning more about their culture as well as other cultures and wanting to share the beauty.

Have you always had a passion for beauty?
Since I was 13, I’ve had this passion and dreamt of being a makeup artist. I love the business of beauty. I love the transformation and the artistry of my peers.

What about travel?
Travel came later in life when I read a book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The book taught me to live in the now, think big and go for it.

Did someone inspire you to bring your love for beauty and travel together?
George Francisco, my political science instructor at FIT, inspired me to see the world, to think about empires, to explore cultures. He’s a world traveler, too, and I admired his sense of freedom.

That’s awesome!
Yes, a lot of the stories I constantly talk about on my blog are things I learned in his class. Aliens, Pyramids and Napoleon Bonaparte. I could go on and on!

What would you say, after exploring diverse cultures, defines beauty?
Beauty in discovering your roots is what defines beauty. Beauty is felt when you accept yourself and your gift to the world. In these countries, the women embody who they are. Beauty is in the culture, rituals and staying true to their customs.

Skin moisturizing mud in Ecuador
Skin moisturizing mud in Ecuador

Have you come across a particular beauty method that is completely different from yours?
I love being dark. But in Asia, light is always in. It’s what women aspire to. Skin bleaching in the Philippines is offered everywhere. I was intrigued by a full body bleach that was marketed in salon windows.

What are your beauty practices?
I live for shampoo with Manzanilla as it brightens my hair and facials using avocado and papaya. Culturally, being Latina is all about confidence in your body so hitting the gym and feeling good is my main beauty practice.

What advice would you give to someone interested in launching a blog?
I would say find your niche, your voice and go from there. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it has to be consistent.

Getting Face Painting in Peru's Sacred Valley by a Quecha Tribe member
Face Painting in Peru’s Sacred Valley by a Quecha Tribe member

Favorite item in your workspace: My Bite Beauty lipstick in Brick Red. When I need a power shot!

Most memorable country you visited: Ecuador

Favorite beauty secret: Coconut oil everywhere-organic and unrefined

Can’t-live-without beauty product: Lashes, lashes, lashes and black eyeliner

Song to get the day started: “Let’s Go” by Calvin Harris & Neyo

The next adventure: I partnered with Curious on Tanzania, an African tour company, to create a specialized trip to Tanzania all about beauty. We will be searching for beauty in the Safari, to the peak of Kilimanjaro, and visiting the Serengeti Tribe to learn about their beauty rituals. I’m also traveling to Japan to learn about Geisha beauty traditions.

Favorite DIY beauty tip: Milk + Tumeric + Chickpea Powder = removes darkness around the eyes! Watch Stephanie’s how-to video.

Posted in Advertising and Marketing Communications, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management, Entrepreneurship | Tagged | Leave a comment

Leah Linnehan Named FIT Student Association VP of Alumni Affairs

leah linnenhan

The Office of Alumni Relations is pleased to begin working with Leah Linnehan, a first-year Fashion Merchandising Management student, who has been elected as Vice President of Alumni Affairs for the FIT Student Association (FITSA). We caught up with Leah and asked her about transferring to FIT, her community involvement, and her upcoming plans for strengthening the connection between alumni and students in the year ahead.

Congratulations on becoming the new FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs! How does it feel be a student body leader?
Thank you! It is such an honor to contribute to the student body at FIT and become the voice of 10,000 students. I’m excited to begin planning some events, connecting with alumni and hearing what students would like to see!

I understand you recently transferred to FIT. Tell us about that decision.
I began my college career at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a political science major. However, after a semester, I quickly learned that my one-credit course, Fashion, Media, Culture and Style, was where my passion was. I decided to leave UMASS and attended Middlesex Community College, where I graduated in May 2012 with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration. While searching for a school to continue my college education, I discovered that FIT would be the perfect fit.

Interesting shift inspired by a one-credit course!
Yes! Last fall, I started my one year Associates Program in Fashion Merchandising Management. Finally after three schools, I have found the one! I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in May 2016.

Are you in other organizations or clubs aside from the student association?
Aside from the FIT Student Association, I am involved with the Merchandising Society at FIT. This year, I am one of the industry buyers for the Style Shop!

How about outside of FIT?
I have kept myself busy with internships and jobs as well. I interned at the TJX Corporation as a retail management intern and at Cache corporation as a merchandising intern. This summer I taught a Fashion Design Summer Camp for a few weeks along with being a manager of an ice-cream stand!

That shows great leadership—well-suited for the role of FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs! Tell us why you wanted to take on this role.
My love for the school continued to grow, leading me to become more involved within the FIT community. One of the main reasons why I wanted to come to FIT is because of the success of the alumni. To take on the role of the FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs, I will have first-hand experience to connect students with industry related professionals along with hearing any insight or advice they may have for us. It is so important that we work together to connect alumni and students.

What are some programs you plan on organizing to achieve that?
I plan on organizing more events working directly with FIT clubs and your office. After hearing about the success of the Alumni Shadow Program, I hope to expand the program to get more students involved. I would also like to create more networking events so the students can create a relationship with the alumni.

What message would you like to extend to the FIT alumni community on behalf of FIT’s student body?
On behalf of myself and the FIT student body, I would like to thank the alumni community for contributing back to FIT and helping students with their future. Thanks for the devotion, dedication and inspiration! We hope to see you in the exciting school year ahead!

Interested in getting involved with FIT? Alumni can sign up here!

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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 alumna Sarah Hall. She said in life there are many opportunities and, 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 incredible insight and advice, and I’m grateful to be part of this awesome FIT network! Check out my interview with her 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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