Tag Archives: FIT Alumni

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.”

IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, LEONA WILSON

Hue loves autumn for all its myriad splendors: pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin-scented candles…. But all that pumpkin has to come from somewhere. And as Leona Rocha Wilson, Fashion Design ’72, discovered, they’re not that easy to grow.

Wilson, who lives in Maui, accepted a handful of seeds from the USDA Cooperative Extension System Office, as part of a program to teach local gardeners about the difficulties that farmers face. Those who grew the largest pumpkins would get to display their bounty at the county fair in October, alongside exotic chickens and tropical fruits.

“Across the country, farmers are closing up, digging under, selling to developers,” she says. “When the farmer gives up farming, that soil becomes housing. And somebody has to grow the food that we’re consuming.”

She was already an experienced gardener, growing rare trees called koai’a to sell the wood. She dug 3-by-3-foot holes underneath the trees and planted the seeds in the corners. She kept a journal to track their progress.

Leona Rocha Wilson measures one of her pumpkins.

As soon as the vines began to unfurl their enormous leaves, she worried she had planted them too close. Every day she watched and worried. But each one grew in a different direction. “Even plants want to survive,” she notes, her voice full of wonder. “Their survival skills were amazing.”

Once the pumpkins began to grow, she also had to cope with fruit flies. If a fruit fly stings a pumpkin, she says two things can happen. One, the larvae eat the pumpkin from the inside and the pumpkin implodes. Two of hers “melted” in that way. Sometimes, the flies produce a gas inside the pumpkin, and it blows up! Thankfully, that didn’t happen to her.

From eight seeds, she was able to grow five pumpkins with a combined weight of 500 pounds. After presenting them at the county fair, she donated them to a local church, where they will become pies and roasted pumpkin seeds for Thanksgiving.

Her final conclusions? “It was fun. And now I have an added respect for farmers.”

THE RURAL LIFE IN QUEENS, PART TWO

As part of her effort to live off the land as much as she can, Ruth Harrigan ’87 keeps four chickens in her backyard.

“My kids asked for a dog; I got them chickens,” she explains.

Ruth Harrigan petting a hen. “They’re mostly feathers,” she says.

She buys one-day-old chicks from a farm in Ohio; they only cost $2 each, but it’s an extra $35 to ship them via a special USPS carrier who deals only in livestock. Local farms also sell chicks, but they don’t guarantee the sex–and New Yorkers are only allowed female chickens. She’s willing to pay extra to avoid a Moses scenario.

As opposed to bees, which can be tricky to take care of, chickens are a breeze. They’re gentle and they live off food scraps–watermelon rinds are a delicacy, apparently.

Chickens are also great for gardens. They scratch at the ground all day, aerating the soil, and they eat the grubs that prevent things from growing.

Not to mention that each chicken produces an egg every day or every other day. The eggs are tastier than your typical supermarket variety.

“The white, normally slippery, is textured,” she says. “The yolk is bright orange. Even the local eggs I buy aren’t this orange.”

These eggs sure get eaten: Harrigan has four kids. Plus a cat, who (surprise!) gets along with the chickens just fine.

“All my friends want chickens now because of me,” Harrigan boasts. “Not that I’m pushing it or anything.”