Monthly Archives: August 2013

WHAT I DISCOVERED IN COPENHAGEN, BY RENEE COOPER

Renee Cooper, Global Fashion Management ’08, professor of Fashion Merchandising Management, taught at KEA, a school of design and technology in Denmark, this spring on a Fulbright scholarship. Here are a few things she learned. (All photos are by Professor Cooper, except the headshot, by  Nikita Gavrilovs, and the bikers in the snow, photographer unknown.)

Students in Denmark are not required to attend every class. When I walked into my first class, there were only five students. Fortunately, they were all very interested and engaged.

Danish food culture is all about rye bread, and smørrebrød, open-faced sandwiches, are the most popular way to enjoy it. Smørrebrød are made with a slice of rye bread topped with meat, fish or vegetables and different spreads. There are lots of understood rules about what to combine and what not to. As a Dane, you just know.

Copenhagen is truly a biking city. There are more bikes than cars!

There are no plastic bags at the grocery stores. You always have to keep one in your pocket. Otherwise, you have to pay for a bag.

The public transportation is clean, convenient, and easy to navigate. I did not get lost once.

In Denmark you can’t find a Starbucks except at the airport. The students told me Starbucks was banned. Instead they have coffee shops called Barista.

My husband and I went to a museum near our apartment. At the end of our tour, we saw this sculpture made of copper pieces. It was gorgeous. We’re sitting there and my husband says, “That looks really familiar.” It was the statue of liberty in pieces. New York is everywhere!

TV is mostly in English! Amazing!

You often see this type of cart attached to a bike. Parents put their kids inside to nap during a journey; when the parents shop, they leave their kids inside! Needless to say, it’s really safe here.

Read more of Professor Cooper’s thoughts on her blog.

THOUGHTS ABOUT ELAINE STONE, PROFESSOR EMERITA, AND HATS

by Alex Joseph, managing editor of Hue

“Fashion fades; style is eternal.”—Yves Saint Laurent

The subject of the day is hats.

Those of us who knew Professor Emerita Elaine Stone, who died August 6, knew her as a hat wearer par excellence. I never saw her without one.

Elaine Stone once told me she had 60 to 70 hats.

Thirteen years ago, when I first came to FIT, I was a little afraid of Professor Stone. She was tall. She was always impeccably dressed. Tales of her steadfast, iron-clad will approached legend. But it was her hats that fascinated me. I didn’t yet know anything about fashion, so that’s what I thought they were: I thought her hats signified fashion.

As time went on—and those of you who’ve been at FIT a while, you might know how this happens—I caught the fashion virus myself. I watched as what I paid for individual items of clothing went up…and up…  I bought a few hats myself. Then a few more. For a while, people referred to me as “the guy with the hats.”

When that phase passed, my feeling for hats died out. Elaine kept right on wearing them.

Stone began wearing hats when she worked as a buyer at Macy’s.

At first the persistence puzzled me, but as I watched Professor Stone more, I slowly came to understand. For her, hats weren’t just a phase, or a trend. They weren’t a slavish attempt to fit into some time period. They represented ideas, if you will. They—she—stood for something.

That something was not ephemeral; Elaine had been in fashion business all her life. She wrote the book on it—literally. Although the industry changed over time (“That’s the definition of fashion,” she reminded me), the need for outstanding merchandising never flagged. That’s what Elaine Stone stood for; those were her values.

So I came to learn that a piece of clothing, an accessory, can come to mean something quite deep. More than achieving a surface effect, it can indicate character.

And that was the richest lesson I learned from Elaine Stone.

AMC STUDENTS GET COMEDIANS TO “STAND UP” FOR A CAUSE

In June, an FIT class in Media Buying and Planning created a situation analysis and media plan for Armor of Light, a store in Point Pleasant, New Jersey that sells “cause-related merchandise”—products whose sale price includes a percentage donated to charity organizations. Led by Loretta Volpe, associate chair for Direct and Interactive Marketing, the class scrutinized the neighborhood marketing environment, suggested an ideal target audience, read the local tourism institute’s economic impact analysis of the Point Pleasant tourism industry, and researched the competition from other local businesses. For their media plan, they created a website with a blog and Instagram feed, and suggested investing in a local billboard, advertising on local radio, a leafleting campaign, and promotional products such as pens and key chains to help get the word out.

Store owner Judy Deaken was overjoyed with the suggestions. Deaken is the mother of an FIT graduate, Courtney Deaken, Jewelry Design and International Trade and Marketing ’09, who inspired the store. Three years ago, Courtney went to India on a trip with Praveen Chaudhry, associate professor of Political Science. She was so moved by what she saw at an orphanage there that she decided to stay; she now works there with a Christian missionary organization, Gospel for Asia.

In addition to their other strategies, students also created an event to benefit Life Association, an organization that provides services to the Dalit, or untouchable, caste in India. (A candle benefiting Life Association is sold at Armor of Light.) The event will be held at Stand Up NY, a comedy club, on September 19.

Visit the store’s website, for more information.

 

HOW TO CONVINCE STRANGERS TO GIVE YOU MONEY

Hue loves it when FIT alumni follow their dreams. So does Kickstarter, the “crowdfunding” website that helps entrepreneurs gather seed money for their artistic projects.

Amy Lombard, Photography ’12, succeeded in her Kickstarter effort to publish a book of photos of Ikea showrooms, complete with customers who look like they live there.

On August 5, FIT’s Office of Alumni and Faculty Relations put on Kickstarter School: Bring Your Project to Life, a panel discussion of three alumni who have launched successful Kickstarter projects, plus Nicole He, Kickstarter’s Art, Fashion and Photography Project Specialist, and Sass Brown, Assistant Dean of FIT’s School of Art and Design.

Here is their best advice. (Or you can watch the video of the presentation.)

1. Start by surfing Kickstarter.com and backing lots of interesting-sounding projects. Even $1 will get you email updates about each project. Not only will you learn what makes a compelling pitch, but you’ll also learn to avoid common pitfalls.

2. You’ll need to choose little prizes for each donation level. The most popular giveaway will be your actual product, but think of desirable tie-in products and other offers that help funders feel like insiders. For a $20 donation, Heather Huey, an FIT Millinery alumna whose photo book project was funded, offered a shoutout on her collaborator’s popular Tumblr page.

3. You’ll have to choose a length of time for achieving your funding goal (if you fall short, you get nada!). He (we mean Nicole, not some mysterious as-yet-unmentioned man) recommends 30 days. Less isn’t enough time to build momentum; more and the momentum flags.

Stefan Loble, Entrepreneurship, raised almost ten times what he planned to for his line of easy-care pants. For him, Kickstarter was a way to take pre-orders and get paid before he went into production.

4. There will be delays. Keep your backers in the loop with regular updates.

5. Make a video to promote your project. But don’t worry if it’s amateurish. He thinks some of the most compelling videos have been just a guy mumbling into a camera.

6. Get critical feedback on your page before launching. Not just from friends – from people who will tell you what they really think.

7. Be ready. Have a prototype done. Convince would-be funders that all you need is money. (There are failures out there. Beware the doom that came to The Doom That Came to Atlantic City!)

8. If your project does get funded, be ready to go into production!