FROM HANGTAGS TO HASHTAGS, STYLISH TWINS’ FIVE GOLDEN RULES FOR ONLINE RETAIL

Laura and Megan Golden, Fashion Merchandising Management ’13, have dreamed of opening a boutique since their days at FIT. But the costs of a brick-and-mortar shop were prohibitive, so in April they hung their shingle online. Golden Closet features feminine, bohemian women’s apparel and accessories at a price point that screams impulse buy.

The Golden twins.

The Golden twins.

Here’s how they did it.

  1. The two of them do everything themselves, from buying to updating the website to filling orders. Megan models all the clothing and Laura does the photography.
  2. They pay attention to their branding. Considering their utterly perfect last name, all the hangtags and tissue paper are gold-colored. “We want to put our Golden touch on everything we do,” Laura says.
  3. They started small, finding vendors with low minimums that didn’t leave them with a ton of inventory when particular items didn’t sell.
  4. They took their time, letting potential customers sign up for their mailing list and making sure all the kinks were ironed out before they launched. (This advice came from Small Store Fashion Retailing, a course they loved at FIT, taught by Ann Cantrell, adjunct instructor of Fashion Merchandising Management and owner of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Brooklyn. Cantrell also advised them to save enough money to cover six months of operating costs at all times.)
  5. “The main challenge has been getting our name out there,” Laura says. “We’re not a brick-and-mortar shop where you can walk by and buy something. You have to know we exist.” Almost every day, they post on Instagram, comment on style blogs, and update their own style blog, which shows off looks they sell and offers tips to customers on how to mix and match. They also send pieces to bloggers, who wear them and promote it on their blogs.

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HOW MEMORIES BECAME FICTION FOR HELENA MARIA VIRAMONTES

FIT being a school of art and design, business and technology, some people don’t realize that high-caliber novelists often visit.

Mostly recently, FIT hosted Helena Maria Viramontes, author of The Moths and Other StoriesUnder the Feet of Jesus, and Their Dogs Came With Them, and chair of the creative writing MFA program at Cornell University. Her most famous story, The Moths, about a teenager’s relationship with her dying grandmother, has been anthologized hundreds of times.

The talk, sponsored by FIT Words, the college’s creative writing club, was called “Writing Your Truth in Fiction,” and Viramontes spoke about how her upbringing as a Chicana (the identity of many Mexican-Americans) in Los Angeles influenced her writing.

We were struck by some of her early inspirations, fragments of her childhood that she alchemized into literary gold.

New roads: “The freeways started in 1959 and finished in 1970. Much of my upbringing was about seeing the destruction of our community.”

The encyclopedia: “Growing up, we had a World Book encyclopedia, but we weren’t allowed to touch it. I’d pick up a volume and run to the bathroom to read it. Whenever I opened a book, it was with a sincere and profound faith that it would inform my life.”

The Bible: “I’d read the parables and stories and recite them to my younger brothers and sisters.”

James Joyce: “With The Moths, I wanted to do a Joycean Dubliners for East L.A.”

Her family: “My first short story began with my mother and my father. I wanted people to know us. I realized I was writing not about my family but a community.”

Hue Too readers, what traces of your childhood inspire you today?

WHERE DO YOUR CLOTHES COME FROM?

Hue has long been an advocate for caring about the afterlife of our possessions. But after an enlightening conference created by FIT’s Department of International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries, we’re also learning to engage with where our clothes and other products come from.

The first Sustainable Global Sourcing Forum brought together more than 25 experts in the field to talk about topics ranging from sustainable sourcing in the cosmetics and fragrance industry to sustainability programs at workplaces to engage employees.

Hue was particularly excited to see a panel of International Trade and Marketing alumni addressing issues in the field.

Andrea Reyes, MPS ’12, BS ’09, cofounded A. Bernadette, a fashion company that contracts with women artisans in Uganda to make accessories out of plastic packing straps, discarded neckties, and other raw materials that might otherwise end up in landfills.

Joanne Krakowski '07; Sophie Miyashiro '14, U.S. customs broker; Christine Pomeranz, chair of International Trade and Marketing; Shireen Musa, assistant professor; Elizabeth Pulos '14; Sabrina Caruso '13, Henri Daussi Jewelry; and Andrea Reyes MPS '12, BS '09, A. Bernadette.

Joanne Krakowski ’07; Sophie Miyashiro ’14, U.S. customs broker; Christine Pomeranz, chair of International Trade and Marketing; Shireen Musa, assistant professor; Elizabeth Pulos ’14, Sheer & Co.; Sabrina Caruso ’13, Henri Daussi Jewelry; and Andrea Reyes MPS ’12, BS ’09, A. Bernadette.

“Americans have a negative view of outsourcing,” said Joanne Krakowski ’07, a textile and apparel consultant. “But many people in the world have nothing, and outsourcing is giving them a livelihood and a trade,” she said. “I want to change the world from a global standpoint, helping people in other countries too.”

Learning about sustainably sourced sweaters in between sessions.

Learning about sustainably sourced sweaters in between sessions.

Overall, the conference was a good reminder that sustainability should be at the center of business decisions, not just pulled up when it’s convenient.

“Historically, people lived this way until very recently,” said Elizabeth Pulos ’14, cofounder of Sheer, a social enterprise devoted to making transparent where our textiles and apparel come from. “The crazy thing is, people think sustainability is a new thing.”

A GALLERY SHOW AS DIVERSE AS FIT’S FACULTY

FIT’s gallery spaces and corridors are often filled with award-winning shows at The Museum at FIT as well as impressive student work, but the college’s world-class faculty traditionally show their own work in other venues.

Not so this month! From March 7 to 22, the School of Art and Design presents the second annual New Views: FIT Art and Design Faculty Exhibition, a juried show featuring more than 90 works, in the John E. Reeves Great Hall.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the exhibition is its eclecticism. Nontraditional artworks such as a maquette for a proposed Nelson Mandela memorial by Johannes Knoops, assistant professor of Interior Design, and a kickin’ pair of boots by Vasilios Christofilakos, assistant professor of Accessories Design, are positioned among traditional paintings, mixed-media pieces, and interactive installations from  a total of 17 different Art and Design programs. It gives visitors a glimpse of FIT’s dazzling scope.

Check out these standout examples from New Views.

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POETRY IS A DISH BEST SERVED LOUD

Every year, thousands of high school students nationwide compete in Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation contest. SUNY hosts the regional competition, which is organized by the Brooklyn-based Teachers and Writers Collaborative — and the New York City regional finals were held on February 5 at good old FIT.

Admittedly, Hue went in with modest expectations. How good could high school students be, right?

The answer: MAGNIFICENT.

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Kiki Giannoulas exults in her performance.

Their voices were surprisingly mature, their readings full of emotion. The poetry, selected from an anthology of 800 choices, blossomed under their skilled interpretation. Half the students could have been professional actors. Hue didn’t want these poems to end.

Shanelle Webster won the contest with "Testimonial" by Rita Dove.

Shanelle Webster won the Poetry Out Loud regional contest with “Testimonial” by Rita Dove.

Four judges, poets themselves, judged the performances based on physical presence, voice and articulation, and other criteria. Accuracy was also extremely important — and very few students flubbed a line. If Hue had been judging, all the students would have been winners.

Maggie Capozzoli-Cavota took second place with "Famous" by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Maggie Capozzoli-Cavota took second place with “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye.

The judges included three poets: Reginald Harris, Professor Amy Lemmon (left), and Jeanne Marie Beaumont (second from left). Amy Swauger, director of Teachers & Writers Collaborative, also judged.

The judges included three poets: Reginald Harris, Professor Amy Lemmon (left), and Jeanne Marie Beaumont (second from left). Amy Swauger, director of Teachers & Writers Collaborative (third from left), also judged.