Designers Unite!

Welcome back to another epic installment of “Emily’s Precollege Blog Posting”! Today’s topic is the design industry.
I’m a part of the Cooper Hewitt DesignPrep Scholars Program. At its most basic level, it’s a great opportunity for learning skills related to the design industry. At the Scholars level, it’s an invaluable tool for creating a network of people who can help you get an inside edge. Here’s the link to the program page: Cooper Hewitt Design Prep Many other museums offer similar programs: for example the MET, the Rubin Museum of Art  and many others. There’s this great event the MET holds twice a year called the Teen Open House where most museums in NYC come together to show off their teen programs. These programs are great for getting involved with museums, and look GREAT on both college and job applications. Some of the programs are even paid internships!
Monday, October 15th was the 7th annual Teen Design Fair, held at the Altman Building (135 West 18th street) by the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. Designers from across the industry were there, from industrial to architecture to media to apparel and fashion. Everything was represented. There were even some college admissions tables located on the lower floor, including FIT. I spent my time floating around the tables occupied by the fashion designers. They included Ann Taylor Inc, Kate Spade, and Mal Sirrah.
Tim Gunn, THE Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame, was the keynote speaker. The other Scholars and I got to speak with him in a private setting for almost a half hour. I even got to take a photo with him! It was honestly one of the most exciting moments in my life.

His standout piece of advice I remember, however, didn’t have to do with fashion, Project Runway, or college. It was about the industry. “You have to be so passionate about your design, that you cannot imagine doing anything else”. You can’t just want to design on the side, because there are at least ten other people who want to design full time. You have to devote yourself fully to your craft, to being the best you can be at it. Another designer I met was Malcom Harris of Mal Sirrah. His advice was to “make one thing so well that no one can beat you at it”. He’s known for his “One Dress”, artfully- designed garment that is only limited in the ways it can be worn by your imagination. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each color dress benefits a different charity.

So what can you do right now? Get your name out there. Make a Facebook fan page for your designs. (Mine’s here!) Go to college tours. Interviews. Don’t be afraid of people. The more people you talk to, the more people will know your name. The more people who know your name, the better of a chance you have of getting into the industry. Mr. Gunn even said that being a designer is a cutthroat field, and you have to be able to go out of your comfort zone to excel. FIT classes are a great example of this- they help you learn new skills that can actually be applied in college and the real world.
How do you guys get involved outside of FIT classes?