6 FIDM Grads Now Working at TOMS Host Exclusive Panel Discussion in Los Angeles

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Six FIDM Alumni now working at TOMS headed up an exclusive panel discussion at the TOMS headquarters in Los Angeles yesterday, and invited FIDM Students to attend. Fielding questions about how they got their start, they shared their FIDM stories as well as their TOMS stories. They also offered helpful advice about networking, LinkedIn, and keeping online personas professional and "job ready."

The grads include:

  • Erik Soto, Merchandise Product Development '04 and Business Management '12 Grad, TOMS Eyewear Merchandiser Product Developer
  • Ann Ro, Visual Communications '10 Grad, TOMS Retail Marketing Coordinator
  • Vi Pham, Jr., Visual Communications '10 Grad, TOMS Product Merchandiser
  • Derrick Alexander, Merchandise Product Development '12 Grad, TOMS Retail Coordinator
  • Francine Greco, Merchandise Marketing '10 Grad, TOMS Executive Assistant to the General Manager of the Americas
  • Salpy Talian, Graphic Design '07 Grad, TOMS Digital Designer

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Erik Soto said that during his last quarter at FIDM he saw a poster at the Career Center about TOMS visiting FIDM to interview students for their internship program. He signed up for the interview but was the 11th person out of 10 spots. One person canceled and he got in. He interviewed with Jackie (also a graduate of FIDM), and got the internship. He said at the time there were 150 people in the company, and literally one parking space. The TOMS van used to pick them up down the street with coffee waiting for them. Now, a TOMS barista meets everyone at the front door, serving lattes and cappuccinos all morning long.

Erik does product development for the TOMS eyewear division now. He develops the full line, then merchandises it. He manages all of the calendars and creates all of the line sheets. He said all of his FIDM classes have prepared him for the job he has at TOMS. He said, "Everything is very entrepreneurial at TOMS—you're building the airplane as you're flying."

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Salpy Talian graduated with her Graphic Design degree from FIDM in 2007, and worked at an advertising agency before landing her job at TOMS through a connection she made at FIDM. She actually started as a freelancer, filling in for someone on vacation. It's been three years now that she's been working on digital, creating all of their online assets: social media graphics, emails, website, landing pages, ad banners, and more.

Last year, Salpy went to Honduras on a Giving Trip. In fact, each employee qualifies to participate in these types of trips to celebrate their first year at TOMS. They help distribute shoes at schools, delivering on the TOMS mission—to help people in need. Then, every three years they are invited on additional Giving Trips.

When asked what she enjoys most about having a creative career, Salpy said, "I enjoy the freedom to create—seeing your ideas come to life."

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Francine Greco is the Executive Assistant to Craig Reingold, the GM of the Americas. She worked full-time at Guess corporate before TOMS recruited her through LinkedIn. She could not stress enough the importance of keeping LinkedIn profiles up to date at all times. Francine just got back from her first Giving Trip

"Merchandise Marketing," Francine said, "really emphasizes entrepreneurship." It was the perfect major for her, she continued, "because that's what TOMS is all about." TOMS recently added a showroom for buyer visits. Francine helped pick and coordinate the items in the room, keeping the project on budget and on time. She said what she loves the most about her job, though, is the people who work there. "Everyone gets along so well."

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Next on the panel was Derrick Alexander who graduated with his Merchandise Product Development degree in 2012. As a student at FIDM, he worked full-time at Nordstrom where he met the TOMS Eyewear rep and kept in touch through LinkedIn. The rest is history. Derrick has now opened up six TOMS pop-up stores across California as the Retail Operations Coordinator.

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Vi Pham, Jr., works in men's footwear at TOMS. She said that attending FIDM opened doors for her. She met Ann Ro at FIDM in the Visual Communications program, and they quickly became best friends taking many of their classes together. Ann landed a job at TOMS first, then Vi followed. Vi said that she loves the fact that the thoughts and opinions of employees really matter at TOMS. "It's not only a great company, it's a movement and we're all very passionate about that."

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Ann Ro actually started out working in aerospace, but decided it wasn't a fit. When she heard there was a job opening at TOMS, she jumped on it. She loved the company and wanted to work there. Then she brought on Vi. "FIDM Students help other FIDM Students out," she said. Ann works in retail marketing at TOMS, creating incentives for retail spaces to help push sell-through. She does visual merchandising, as well. "FIDM helped me to be nimble, and think on my feet."

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DEBUT Grad Samantha Sneed Featured in Rockwall Herald Banner


Advanced Fashion Design Graduate Samantha Sneed, who showed her first collection at DEBUT 2015, is profiled in her hometown paper, the Rockwall County Herald Banner. “I learned so much about sewing, and new techniques I hadn’t learned before,” she said. She describes her womenswear designs as "classic American meets modern equestrian clothing, with a fun campy twist." See her collection below:




MPD Alumnus' Pladra Brand Hosts Pop-Up Shop in San Francisco's Hayes Valley


Merchandise Product Development Graduate Jeff Ladra's outdoor lifestyle brand, Pladra, has a pop-up shop in San Francisco's Hayes Valley. Located at 573 Hayes Street, the store is stocked with the brand’s signature flannel shirts for men and women, made from the world’s softest Portuguese 100% cotton flannel accented with whimsical nature prints used to face the collar and cuffs.

The pop-up shop is now through September 30, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. 



Stone Cold Fox's Production Manager and Collection Rep Is FIDM Grad


Two childhood friends, designer and creative marketing director Cydney Morris and production manager and collection representative Dallas Wand, are the creative forces behind Stone Cold Fox, the popular women's brand that's takes inspiration from vintage clothing. Dallas, a Merchandise Marketing and Business Management Grad, is in charge of the label's in-house showroom and styles photo shoots as well.  



B.S. Apparel Technical Design Students Visit Denim Sewing Contractor in Downtown LA

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Fashion Designer, FIDM Alumna and Instructor Rebecca Eliason led her students in the B.S. Apparel Technical Design Program on a fashion industry field trip yesterday morning to visit Thelma Siguenza, a prominent denim sewing contractor in downtown Los Angeles, and longtime colleague of Rebecca. The visit offered the students a firsthand look at product development.

While there, each student was assigned to find a garment in production and sketch both the front and the back of it, identifying and labeling the stitches.

Thelma toured the students through the factory floor, explaining each station and the production process. The class observed one gentleman carefully placing a pattern piece to mark precisely where the pockets will be sewn on a pair of pants.

Rebecca said, "Thelma's product is a better quality pant." Mass manufacturers would not take the time to mark the fabric in this manner. They would save time by drilling a hole into the fabric. "By using a pencil mark, it minimizes damages," Rebecca explained.

Thelma held up the pants Rebecca was referring to and said with the corduroy fabric she was using in her design, she had to employ an overlock stitch. "I can't use a lap seam here—the caballo stitch," Thelma explained.

As a sewing contractor, Thelma does product development for manufacturers. She makes the first pattern, then the production pattern. Once the orders come in from the manufacturer, she does the marking, grading, cutting, and sewing. For dying, she sends out.

Rebecca Eliason and Thelma Siguenza met in the 1980s when they were working at Jett Paris, a denim company in Los Angeles—Rebecca, a designer, and Thelma, a pattern maker. They recalled making a denim underwire bustier and cropped denim jackets. In fact, one of their Jett Paris designs became famous when it was styled on Geena Davis in the iconic 1991 film Thelma & Louise. It was a faded denim jacket with lace and pearls.

Thelma Siguenza owns her own sewing factory now. It's a vertical operation, as she also has denim label PB1930, as well as a retail space downstairs called Parker & Barrow—named after Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. The students toured the unique retail space, and visited the design room.

In the center of downtown LA's historic core, Parker & Barrow's location is supreme—next door to Urban Outfitters on Broadway between 8th and 9th Street, across the street from the Eastern Building and Acne Studios, and just a few doors down from Umami Burger and the Ace Hotel. 

PB1930 is Thelma's denim label available at Parker & Barrow, custom made for exclusive clientele by appointment only. Thelma only uses denim from Japan, Italy, and the U.S. It costs about $400 to $450 to have a pair of jeans custom made, which includes the custom pattern and fittings. After that, the pattern is kept on file at Parker & Barrow, and clients can have subsequent jeans made in the $250 range.

FIDM is known for its industry connections, and Rebecca's friendship with Thelma is a testament to that. Thelma said that her dream is to develop her vertical operation into an "incubator." She said, "I want to mentor students." She is currently looking for interns.

Read about the field trip the students in the B.S. Apparel Technical Design program participated in earlier this month.

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Grad Providing Pro Bono Design Services to the Ronald McDonald House


Interior designer and FIDM Grad Melinda Mandell is graciously providing pro bono design services for the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford in Palo Alto. There will be a fundraising event, Where Hope Has A Home, on August 22, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. in Los Altos to raise money to benefit the families with critically-ill children receiving care at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. 




Roxy Merchandising & Design Product Analyst & FIDM Valedictorian Kassandra Cassily is Guest Speaker in Premier PD Group

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Students in the Premier Product Development Group were treated this week to an amazing guest speaker, Kassandra Cassily, Merchandising & Design Product Analyst for Roxy and Quiksilver, and FIDM Valedictorian. She gave an inspiring talk about her journey from international business analyst to working in product development for one of the biggest names in the action sports fashion industry.

Kassandra, who goes by KC, came to FIDM with degrees in International Business and Chinese, which she joked was easier than earning a degree from FIDM. "FIDM has the hardest workload ever." She also added that Merchandise Product Development is "definitely the best major." It combines the business side of fashion with the creative side, which makes you incredibly marketable in the fashion industry. "You help designers, but you can speak the business."

KC has lived, interned, and worked in Germany, Luxembourg, China, India, and of course here in the U.S.—a rich background to take into the fashion industry.

In China, she worked for a snowboard shop doing PR and event planning. She was also a runway model, which as it turns out is an excellent background for understanding fit in fashion, a crucial thing to know when working in merchandise product development.

She worked as a business analyst at Morning Star, an investment analyst firm, in the U.S. before transferring to Germany, then Luxembourg where she opened an office for them. She created European Best Practices for Morning Star. She was 24 years old, managing a team of 22 people which she named, "Team Awesome." She even did presentations to her team on how to speak confidently in a foreign language. Promoted to Sales Director, she was named "Global Sales Rookie of the Year."

Morning Star asked her to move to Dubai, but she turned them down. She knew she was headed in a different direction. She decided she wanted to move to California and pursue a career in the action sports fashion industry.

After seeing a job posting to work at Burton as a product developer, she had her "checklist" in hand.

Incredibly well versed in business, there were many things on the Burton job description that she could check off, but she was lacking an education in product development and fashion. That's when she found FIDM.

In her research on fashion colleges, she discovered that FIDM had partnered with Signal Snowboards, and it piqued her interest. FIDM turned out to be the perfect fit.

While she was earning her degree from FIDM in Merchandise Product Development, she started interning at Roxy. In an odd turn of events, Roxy was participating in a mentorship for OTIS, and they asked KC to head it up. A student at FIDM was mentoring students at OTIS.

When her internship ended, there was one (and only one) position available at Roxy, and that was to be an analyst on the merchandising and design team. Her goal was to go into product development, so she hesitated applying for the position. But, it was the only position open and she knew she wanted to work there, so she applied and got it. As it turned out, six months into her position, attrition in her department created the perfect opportunity for her. She's now doing the job she wanted in the first place, and she couldn't be happier.

She said she uses all of the knowledge gained in the classes at FIDM—everything from PLM and Illustrator to fit classes and fabric identification. Added all up, her background in international business, fashion, and snowboarding—she's been a snowboard instructor in Beijing, Germany, Luxembourg and many places in the U.S.—makes her the ideal candidate to work in action sports in California. Roxy is her home, for now.

Spring 2016 in on the road—they're getting feedback about what's selling through. Summer '16 is about to hit the road for sales, as she's currently editing the line guide. And they are starting on Holiday 2016 with initial sketches.

Her overall takeaway for the students? "If you work hard and really go after diverse interests, your career will take you places." She added, "Be true to yourself. Enjoy the journey. Network."

KC is currently looking for interns. At the end of the talk, several Merchandise Product Development students in the Premier PD Group expressed interest in Roxy. With KC as their mentor, the sky's the limit.

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Hillary Janvrin Is Costumer on "Big Brother" (Interview)


Name: Hillary Janvrin

Major: Visual Communications

Job Title: Costumer on Big Brother 

How did you first hear about FIDM? I am from a small town in New England called Hampton, New Hampshire. I knew that I wanted to be in fashion since I was in middle school, so when it came to apply for schools I wasn't entirely sure what the best one was for fashion-related majors. I also never planned to go so far west, to California, so L.A. was never on my mind. One day my best friend mentioned FIDM to me after watching an episode of  The Hills with Lauren Conrad. So I gave it a look, and realized I loved everything about FIDM. 

What jobs have you had since graduating in 2012? I started interning right after graduation, and landed my first paid position as Set Costumer for a Lifetime movie. I went on to do more Lifetime films, and also worked on commercials for State Farm, Target, and editorials for Teen Vogue. I also costume designed some features and shorts .After two years of small low budget projects, I landed a job as Set Costumer for a show called Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories for Adult Swim. That job got me my union days, and I was able to apply for Local 705, the Motion Picture Costumers Union. After becoming a union member, my first union job was Big Brother Season 16. From there, I went to work on shows like, Major Crimes, Angie Tribeca, NCIS: Los Angeles, School of Rock, East Los High, and now back to Big Brother Season 17.

What do you enjoy about working on the show? Big Brother is unlike any show I've worked on before. It is the only reality show I've worked on, so it is set up, and shot much differently. Since the show is live, and a real reality show, we are not allowed to interact with the house guests. So it makes shopping for them quite difficult. We do not have fittings before any show, and we usually don't know who is playing in a competition until the day of. So we have to shop multiple sizes and multiple outfits for all house guests in one week. There are usually three competitions a week, and we dress the house guests for two out of the three. Since we dress them for competitions, the outfits can be almost anything. So far this year we have put the house guests in squirrel costumes, '90s outfits, construction uniforms, and medieval attire. It is really fun for our department--lots of hands on crafts and costume making. I do most of the shopping for the show, which means my boss tells me what she wants and I go out into the world and find it for her. She lets me have a lot of input in the costumes whenever I can which makes it worthwhile.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into costume design? The advice I would give is this: it's not glamorous. I don't get to dress up every day and look fabulous; most days I'm dressing for the outdoors, and that could be rain, dirt, and heat. It is also long hours--a typical day is 12 hours, but if the shooting is behind, you could work 20 hours. I love what I do. The actors and the production rely on you and when you can do a great job, it is the best feeling . These film and TV crews become your family and you get the opportunity to work with incredibly talented actors.



FIDM Grad Launches San Antonio Fashion Awards


San Antonio-based style maven Burgundy Woods is "probably the most stylish woman in S.A. you've never heard of," according to a recently article posted by mySA. This FIDM Grad has launched the San Antonio Fashion Awards, which will be presented on October 10, 2015, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Burgundy wanted to recognize the city's hair, makeup, and design innovators who often work for free out of their passion for the industry.   



FIDM Grad Jene Park Is Now Creative Director of Thomas Wylde



Jene Park is the new creative director at Thomas Wylde, the Los Angeles-based brand that is favored by stars such as Sienna Miller, Cameron Diaz, and Charlize Theron. Known for high-end leather jackets, silk caftans, and skull-printed scarves, the label is getting a makeover as well as a diffusion line with Park at the helm. 

Read more in the Los Angeles Times



Read Career Advice from Five Successful Film/TV Costume Designers in this FIDM Blog Exclusive


During the private opening of the FIDM Museum’s ninth annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design exhibition, we chatted with the costume designers of Fox’s “The Mindy Project”, ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”, AMC’s “Better Call Saul” and more, discussing topics from their humble beginnings in the industry, to the most rewarding aspects of their careers. They also provided wonderful bits of advice for aspiring costume designers. 


“Everybody can go to the store and buy Prada, but to buy Banana Republic and make it look like Prada, or to make it look like a Salvador Perez… that’s good costume design,” says Emmy-nominee and FIDM Alumnus Salvador Perez who is President of the Costume Designer's Guild, and Costume Designer for Fox’s “The Mindy Project,” Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, and Lifetime’s TV biopic, “Liz & Dick.”

When asked how it feels to be a Primetime Emmy nominee for Fox's “The Mindy Project” this year, Perez replied by saying, “The show itself is a gift, and the Emmy nomination is the icing on the gift.”

He expressed that working with Mindy Kaling is one of the most rewarding aspects of his job. “Mindy is such a dream to work with. If you can make someone happy with clothes, what more can I do with life? It’s great,” he says. His costume designs for “The Mindy Project” are currently on display at the FIDM Museum. 


“Read magazines, Instagram… follow bloggers. Know what’s going on," says Mona May, FIDM Grad and Costume Designer for Clueless, Stuart Little 2, and Enchanted.

With this year marking the 20th anniversary for the iconic '90s film Clueless, the FIDM Grad stated that the film “still lives on." Her costumes for Lifetime’s TV biopic “Whitney” are currently on display at the FIDM Museum. 


“I don’t care what you’ve done before. I don’t care what you’ve designed. I don’t care if you have a jewelry line. I just care that you’re there with me, you trust me, and you support me, because there are many people in this business who want your job,” says Mandi Line, FIDM Grad and Costume Designer for ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars,” MTV’s “Faking It,” and Showtime’s “Shameless.”

In a previous interview, Line mentioned, “FIDM got my first job as an intern on a film. I owe my 'in' to them."  


“I’m always learning [about] other people’s lifestyles—how they dress in their worlds, whether they’re fishing or a molecular biologist,” says Jennifer Bryan, Costume Designer for AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” and AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”

When it comes to hiring for an assistant or intern, Bryan says she looks for people with a dedication to the craft of costume design.

“[Costume design] is not as fashion-driven as you think, it is more about character," she says. "If a candidate has a working knowledge of costume history, it’s a plus.” Her costumes for AMC’s “Better Call Saul” are currently on display at the FIDM Museum. 


“No one [in costume design] is where they are without good people behind them," says Lisa Padovani, Costume Designer for Fox’s “Gotham.”

Padovani's first big job in costume design was as an assistant for feature film Quiz Show. She has since worked her designer magic for many major movies and television shows, including HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and Shutter Island. The most important lesson that she gained from her beginnings as a costume designer was “to not be afraid.” Her costumes for Fox’s “Gotham” are currently on display at the FIDM Museum.

More than 100 costumes from more than 20 shows, including Marvel’s “Agent Carter” and CW’s “Reign”, are on display through September 26, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, at the FIDM Museum. Admission is free to the public. Read Variety's recap of the exhibition first-look.



FIDM Grad Teams Up to Launch Revolutionary Sunglass Company Covry Sunwear


Tired of sunglasses that didn't correctly fit their faces because of higher cheekbones and narrower nose bridges, former high school classmates Florence Shin and Athina Wang are revolutionizing the sunglass market with Covry Sunwear

"We have always struggled to find sunglasses that fit us well," Shin told NBC News, "They would slide down the nose or rest on our cheeks, which made them very uncomfortable to wear. We decided to start this company when we realized that we weren't the only ones that had this problem." Wang, a graduate of FIDM, told NBC News, "is made up of longer nose pads, a narrowed nose bridge and a reduced frame curvature, and is designed for anyone that has a lower nose bridge and higher cheekbones."


Instead of using the more common industry term, "Asian Fit," Wang explained that "these features are common for people of Asian ethnicities, but we found that people of all backgrounds can share this problem."



FIDM IG Takeover: PAM & GELA


Join FIDM on Instagram, from Wednesday, August 19 – Friday, August 21, as we host an exclusive Instagram takeover with Gela Nash-Taylor and FIDM Grad Pamela Skaist-Levy, the founders of Juicy Couture and PAM & GELA.

Instagram Takeover Details

Over the course of three days, you will get the chance to go behind the scenes of fashion empire PAM & GELA. The dynamic duo has curated a series of photos for FIDM’s Instagram page, featuring fun facts about the fashion moguls, as well as valuable advice to carry you through life and business. Pam & Gela will also answer questions from our audience during the takeover, in a live Q&A on @FIDMCollege’s Instagram.

To participate in our Instagram takeover, be sure to follow @FIDMCollege and @PamandGela on Instagram. Get to know Pam & Gela below, and check out their website.

About Fashion Moguls Pam & Gela

Pamela Skaist-Levy was born in Los Angeles, CA, and grew up a “skateboarding Valley girl” in Encino. She is a graduate of the FIDM and a former costume designer.

Skaist-Levy and her business partner of over 15 years, Gela Nash-Taylor, were the maximalist masterminds behind the extraordinary Juicy Couture brand. They created an unapologetic world where “more” was fun. Their unique take on everyday luxury and irreverent fashion expression served as an inspiration to a whole new generation of young designers and paved the gilded way for progressive, up and coming ready-to-wear brands. Now, they are back for seconds with their new brand PAM & GELA, which brings back their unique take on casual luxury. 



Product Development Grad Cristina Mihalas is Now Technical Designer at Evy of California


Cristina Mihalas graduated in 2009 with a degree in Merchandise Product Development. She's now a production technical designer at Evy of California, Inc., a company that specializes in boys and girls apparel. Earlier this year, Evy opened their first retail location, Super Charged, just two blocks from FIDM's Los Angeles campus.

Tell us a little about yourself: Born in Timisoara, Romania, I am the youngest of six kids. When I was three years old, my family moved to Salzburg, Austria. In 1996, we made the big move to California, which is where my family has been based out of ever since. I have siblings all over the place now—New York, Arizona, California—so I am traveling as much as I can to see them and their children. I have a major travel bug and love to explore new places; I am rarely ever home on the weekend! I am currently planning my wedding and will be married in less than three months.

Where are you working now and what do you do? I work for Evy of California, as a production technical designer for the boys department. 

How did you find out about FIDM? I was working for Nordstrom and I had been very curious about the “other end” of fashion. So, I started doing research and found that I could learn and work on the production and manufacturing side, but needed to get the proper education and training first. One of the division managers at Nordstrom told me about FIDM in San Francisco, and I dove in head-first and moved to San Francisco a few weeks later, after I had been accepted into FIDM.

How did you decide on your major? I initially enrolled as a Merchandise Marketing student, but within four weeks I asked to change to Product Development as I felt that I needed something that had a little bit of a creative outlet. 

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? The sewing classes, pattern classes and the Illustrator classes are some that I still think of when I am working. If it wasn’t for the sewing classes, I wouldn’t know all the different stitches and seams. I really enjoyed the pattern drafting classes because it set up my understanding for garment construction alongside the different seams/stitches. And of course the Illustrator classes because I now use Illustrator on a daily basis.

Any advice for current FIDM Students? If you don’t find a great job right away after graduation, don’t give up. The best advice I can give it to get your feet a little wet. Any experience is good experience. If someone is offering you a job that isn’t the exact position you want, don’t pass it up. 

What is your biggest goal right now? Besides finishing my wedding planning, my goal is to continue to grow with Evy of California, and one day have my own technical design department that I manage.



FIDM Grad Chelsie Kadota Launches Swimwear Label S.I.E SWIM

Chelsie Kadota

Chelsie Kadota graduated from FIDM in 2011 with her Product Development Professional Designation degree. She recently launched her own swimwear label S.I.E SWIM which she intends to grow into an international lifestyle brand.

Tell us a little about yourself: Before FIDM, I had a B.A. double major in Business Management and Marketing while on a basketball scholarship. I was the total opposite of a typical "jock," and after I earned my undergraduate degrees, I knew I wanted to go to FIDM to major in Product Development—to further my knowledge and experiences in the industry. I recently launched my own swim lifestyle brand called S.I.E SWIM online.  It has been a labor of love for a year in the making and I do everything from the designing to the accounting.

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM opened my world to the many facets of the fashion industry and introduced me to connections that I am still in contact with today.

How did you decide on your major? After reading through all the descriptions of the majors, I knew Product Development was the perfect fit because it encompassed the skills needed to own a fashion business.

Any advice for current FIDM Students? Throw yourself into the experience and gain all the knowledge and connections from FIDM. It is a very awesome opportunity that shouldn't be taken for granted.

What is your biggest goal right now? To build my brand into a international lifestyle brand.

Anything else you’d like to share? I'm thankful for all the people and teachers I met at FIDM and wish everyone well.



Product Development Grad Gabrielle Santiago Has Wallpaper Line and Licensing Deals in the Works

Gabrielle Santiago

In two short years, Gabrielle Santiago went from FIDM graduation to interning for celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus to opening her eponymous design firm where she has licensing deals in the works, along with a wallpaper line in pre-development. Read on to learn more about this inspiring recent grad.

Tell us a little about yourself: Where to start. Ok—I am a poster child for walking into corners, designer of all things style, writer, and valid number one fan of Ella Fitzgerald Pandora. I have spent a decade devoting myself to the world of design. As a Merchandise Product Development graduate, I spent my college years designing footwear in Los Angeles. In 2014, I moved to Chicago to work alongside celebrity designer Nate Berkus, as a studio design intern. It was at that moment when I realized my love for interior design. I moved back to LA and began working for HGTV's Lonni Paul as an art director. At age 23, I launched Gabrielle Santiago Design and have since been working toward my dream of becoming a well known designer under my own name!

What are you working on? I am the principal designer at Gabrielle Santiago Design. I have multiple projects going on at the moment. A few celebrity interior design projects, licensing deals, and of course my wallpaper line that is currently in pre-development.

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM has continued to help me in all aspects of my career. I still find myself picking up some of my old college books to find answers or inspiration. I think the main thing FIDM taught me is that every day is a challenge, but it's how you prepare for it that sets you apart from the crowd.

How did you find out about FIDM? I originally had it set in my mind that I was going to FIT. I did pre-college courses there and considering I was from the east coast, it just made sense. I thought I would just give another place a chance, so I flew out to LA with my parents to see FIDM because my guidance counselor in high school suggested it. As soon as I arrived, it was a done deal. I knew it was the school for me.

How did you decide on your major? This is such a funny story. I actually originally applied for Fashion Design and my admissions advisor strongly encouraged me to look into Product Development. I wasn't very keen on hand sketching or sewing, so I looked into his advice. I am so glad I decided to listen considering now I am producing things for the home decor and interior design industry rather than apparel.

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? There are so many classes that have aided me on my career path. I remember when I took the fabric identification class I dreaded going every week, but I'm so glad I did. This class continues to get me discounts at the local fabric mart. I always negotiate the price down due to quality recognition. I know what they're selling me and that terrifies them!

Any advice for current FIDM Students? I have endless amounts of advice! When interviewing for a position, don't make the interview all about you. Employers love when you ask questions! If you break down those walls and get personal with your interviewer (even for a split second) they will find it easier to relate to you. People want to work with people they genuinely like. I'm sure you have a great personality. Don't be afraid to flaunt it.

Also, when starting out in the industry it's okay to accept a job that isn't your overall dream job. Everyone starts somewhere. We all run for coffee and fax paperwork at some point in our lives. It's your attitude when you do it that sets you apart from everyone else. If you finish an internship and somehow a job opens up, you want your employer to remember your happy face and think, "Hey, what about that girl who was always smiling while running for coffee. Let's give her a shot."

What is your biggest goal right now? Find time for a vacation! Ha! A girl can dream right? In all seriousness, the main goal right now is to maintain balance. I currently have multiple projects in full action and it's hard to remember to attempt a personal life sometimes. It's important to take a breather and remember to be successful in all things life. Not just the career. I try to say that to myself everyday.

Anything else you’d like to share? I want everyone to know that it is possible to reach your dreams, but only if you put the work in to make it possible. Feel free to follow me on social media @gabriellesantiagodesign and check out my website at as I continue to carve out my path in the design industry. 



Catching Up With Married FIDM Grads Eiman Hamza and Michael Scarpellini


In the past, we've told you about married FIDM Graduates Eiman Hamza and Michael Scarpellini, who are partners in the My Closet chain of boutiques and the brand, Happiness. We recently caught up with the globetrotting duo, who are based in Italy, to learn about their expanding business and family.

What is new with Happiness and your retail stores?

Michael: Since we started our brand Happiness in 2007, we have added a lot of variety to our product line, which was known for its t-shirts and sweatpants. Now we have dresses, ponchos, shorts, parkas, swimwear, and a full kids collection. We just opened our first kids store in Rimini, Italy and now have 8 mono brand retail stores in Italy and Spain, which we are very excited about. Everything from the design to the product inside the store was developed by us--it was a lot of hard work, but we are so happy with the results.

Eiman: We’ve given jobs to more than 300 people and out of anything we’ve ever done since we started Happiness, this for me is the most rewarding. Everyone who works with us lives and breathes Happiness. We have all found a family and happiness in each other. I find us to be very lucky to be surrounded by such creative and powerful individuals who inspire us each and every day.

How has life changed now that you have a baby? 

Eiman: Life feels more complete now. We opened up our dream stores, the brand is retailed in some of the top 3,000 stores worldwide, and we are happily married, but there was always something missing. At the end of the day we were still empty until Zeyd came along and filled that emptiness with absolute chaos. He is so funny and crazy; he makes life have meaning and is the truest purest form of happiness in our lives. He inspires us and motivates us more than anyone can imagine.

Michael: Eiman doesn’t want a nanny so working and the traveling that comes along with work is always done with Zeyd by our side and that is not easy. Somehow we manage to make it work but its crazy.

Where do you see the future of your brand and retail stores going?

Eiman: We have plans to open stores in Tokyo and New York in the next year and I am beyond excited about that. I see us continuing to spread Happiness worldwide.

Michael: The future for Happiness is opening several direct stores plus growth in distribution and offering a wider variety in product.





Merchandise Marketing Grad Launches Buying Career


Molly Gahan was the winner of the Outstanding Student award for Merchandise Marketing 2015. The Illinois native graduated in December and has returned to Chicago to build her career.

Where did you go to high school?

Joliet Catholic Academy, Joliet, Illinois

How did you find FIDM?

I found FIDM at a college fair in Chicago. Since I always had an interest in the fashion business, I eventually checked out the school's summer program, 3 Days of Fashion. I knew that this was the college where I could gain deep knowledge of the industry I wanted to succeed in.

What was the best part of the FIDM experience?

Building relationships with my instructors was most rewarding. Rather than sitting in an auditorium with 500 others, I was in a small classroom environment. This allowed me to connect with my fellow students and instructors.

Advice for future students?

I encourage students to attend each and every class in order to build the necessary relationships.

What are your future goals?

I hope to become a buyer at Sears. Once I complete my internship, my hope is to get a full time position. Looking ahead 10-15 years, my goal is to open my own boutique. This has been a dream of  mine since my college search. The jobs that I work in before opening my store will provide the knowledge that I will need to operate my own business.



Attend the 6th Annual Innovative Materials Conference at FIDM LA


The FIDM Library and FIDM Alumni Association invite you to the 6th annual Innovative Materials Conference on August 17, 2015 through August 21, 2015. See the latest in the textiles and materials industries including innovations in wearable technology and sustainable products, and watch a 3-D printer in action. 

Exhibit hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., in the Annex, Room A 332, Standard Oil Building, 605 Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. 

Sign up classes for a tour with the Textiles & Materials department team. RSVP to

On Wednesday, August 19th, 2015, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., hear from guest speaker Charlie Brown, head of Avery Dennison’s Customer Design and Innovation Center, who will discuss the role of eco-friendly practices in the apparel industry. Enjoy refreshments and network with FIDM alumni and industry professionals. RSVP by August 18th to



Congratulations to CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist and FIDM Grad Matt Baldwin of Baldwin


Congratulations to FIDM Graduate Matt Baldwin, a finalist in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund design challenge. Learn more about Baldwin

From Vogue:

Over the past twelve years, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund has granted more than $4 million to more than 30 design companies, including winners like Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, and Proenza Schouler, and runners-up like Tabitha Simmons, Prabal Gurung, and Thom Browne. 

Over the next four months, this group of ten finalists—in addition to running their businesses as usual—will participate in special design and advertising challenges, stage a runway show at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, and, of course, share their stories and inspirations with It all leads up to the big announcement on November 2.

The 2015 finalists are:

Baja East, Scott Studenberg and John Targon

Baldwin, Matt Baldwin

Brother Vellies, Aurora James

Cadet, Brad Schmidt and Raul Arevalo

CG, Chris Gelinas

Chromat, Becca McCharen

David Hart, David Hart

Gypsy Sport, Rio Uribe

Jonathan Simkhai, Jonathan Simkhai

Thaddeus O’Neil, Thaddeus O’Neil



Merchandise Marketing Grad Wants Plus-Sized Career

Lisett lopez copy

Merchandise Marketing Grad Lisette Lopez attended the Professional Designation program to help make a career switch to fashion buying. Her goal is "to take the plus size market by storm" as a Buyer. Here is her road map.

Where did you go to college before FIDM?

I graduated Woodbury University in Burbank, CA with a Bachelor's degree in Business in 2007.

How did you decide to return to school, to FIDM?

In (my previous) college I had interests in fashion and law. After a few years working in a law firm, I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I reached a crossroads and asked myself, "What can I do for the rest of my life that will make me happy?" I knew the answer was to be in the fashion field as a buyer/stylist for the plus size market.

I wanted to explore my passion for fashion, and I knew that FIDM was the ideal school because of its reputation and strong networking opportunities.

What did you like about getting a Professional Designation degree in Merchandise Marketing?

The curriculum is perfectly tailored to educating people on the business of fashion. The instructors and advisors are knowledgeable, well connected, enthusiastic, encouraging, and willing to give advice about school and work.

What are you proudest of?

Going back to school was a challenge. I was balancing a full time job and a full class schedule but it has been extremely rewarding. FIDM has been one of the best decisions I have made for myself.

Advice for FIDM Students?

Take school seriously! FIDM is a fun environment where you an express yourself (I got purple highlights at 29!), but this is where you lay the foundation for your career. Give it your all! Also, learn how to dress professionally! Fashion is fun—but you can be fun and professional!

Keep an open mind! I entered FIDM wanting to be a buyer. That didn't change. However, I did develop an interest in product development and licensing which would seamlessly fuse my love of fashion and law. And, though I still love buying, allocation doesn't look too shabby! 



Merchandise Marketing Grad Builds Career at Nordstrom

Bailey Pierson

Outstanding student Bailey Pierson graduated FIDM with a degree in Merchandise Marketing in March 2015. She is building her career at top retailer Nordstrom in California, where she worked while attending merchandising school downtown. Her ultimate goal? To become a store manager at Nordstrom.

Current Job:

Assistant Manager, Nordstrom

Where did you go to high school?

I attended Rockwall H.S. in Rockwall, TX, about 25 minutes outside Dallas. I was an involved DECA member.

How did you find FIDM?

I found it while researching fashion merchandising degrees during high school. I had the opportunity to visit campus during the summer of my junior year and I knew it was the school for me.

What was the best part of your FIDM experience?

Balancing a full time job as a department manager while taking a full load of classes and making the Honor Roll every quarter.

Advice for FIDM students?

My best advice is to get a job in the field while attending school. It challenges you to use what you are learning in the classroom, while managing schoolwork and professional responsibilities.

How has your FIDM education helped in your career so far?

It's helped me advance my career at Nordstrom. When I started I was a Sales Associate and by the time I graduated I was a Manager. FIDM gave me the tools to market myself and develop my management skills.



Merchandise Marketing Grad Sees Her Future in PR Marketing

Jordan sch

Outstanding Merchandise Marketing student Jordan Schweitzer graduated FIDM in June. The Colorado native has a job as an Account Coordinator at Los Angeles PR agency The Valentine Group.

Where did you go to high school?

I attended The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.

How did you find out about FIDM?

I have known since I was very young that I wanted to pursue a career in fashion. As soon as I visited for 3 Days of Fashion (FIDM's summer high school program) I knew it was the perfect fit. To back up, I first learned about the merchandising college through different shows and personal research.

What has been the best part of FIDM?

FIDM has opened an immense number of doors for me. School has allowed me to challenge myself academically, creatively, and socially. Moving here has showed me how much I am truly capable of. As a result, I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and experienced amazing career and life opportunities.

Advice for future students?

Don't let your (young) age intimidate you. You can let FIDM's reputation launch you and feel confident in what you have learned and who you are. Time passes in a whirlwind so don't wait till the end of college to jump in.

How has your FIDM education helped in your career so far?

The skills that I have learned have been so diverse that I have been able to apply them to such different jobs as retail, wholesale, marketing and more. I have gained the respect of each employer because of those skills.

What are your future goals?

I would love to be able to focus on the PR Marketing industries. I love that this part of the industry lets me connect the consumer to a product or service in a way that resonates. Marketing is really taking a brand and giving it a meaning that can take a product from a simple object to a lifelong customer relationship.



FIDM Alumni Launch Creative Consulting Agency Jacob X Jordan


Merchandise Marketing Graduate Jacob Vargas and FIDM Visual Communciations Alumna Jordan Douglas have launched the creative consulting agency, Jacob X Jordan. The duo, who have a background in styling, fashion PR, marketing, and special event production, is setting out to collaborate with brands and personalities in new and innovative ways. They have already worked on a music video for Tyga, with the L.A.B. in Orange County, and with emerging recording artist Wes Period. 

"My favorite part about working with Jordan is that I get to work with my best friend everyday," Jacob says. "In high school we were in fashion ROP together, I produced my first fashion show with her, we got accepted to FIDM together, and she has always been the creative hand in the projects I have produced in the industry. Our individual point-of-views adds up to a better final product." Jordan adds: "It's easier to succeed when you have a business partner pushing for you to do your best." 

They want Jacob X Jordan to be a network that connects brands and influencers to unique creatives. "We want to continue to produce projects that allow us to collaborate with creative people and find innovative ways to presenting product to consumers," Jacob says. "One of the ways we would like to do this is by producing JXJ events that curates our favorite music artists, brands and other creative arts."

Jordan adds that, "I see the future of Jacob X Jordan as a successful worldwide business and a well-known collaborative community of the fashion and entertainment worlds that continues to inspire other creatives to connect and create."



Cristy Guy Styles Pro Soccer Players For New 7UP Campaign


Fashion Design Alumna Cristy Guy was the wardrobe stylist and groomer for 7UP's "Kick It Up" soccer campaign. "What an experience, what a crew, and what talented athletes I had the pleasure of meeting," she says. "This job took me from shooting with professional USA Soccer Goalie Tim Howard in Memphis, Tennessee to Porto, Portugal working with Mexico's Central Midfielder, Hector Herrera. It was a whirlwind adventure never to be forgotten." 



The Record-Bee Interviews Shoe Box Owner Kellee Bussard


FIDM Graduate Kellee Bussard and her husband, Jesse, opened The Shoe Box in Lakeport, California last November, featuring comfort shoe lines from around the globe. "I know brands, I know pricing, and I know firsthand how women love their shoes," Kellee tells the Record-Bee in a recent interview. The shoe store also caters to men looking for quality work boots and dress shoes. 

After graduating from FIDM, Kellee worked for the Nine West Group, Macy's, and Sole Desire, where she served as operations manager and buyer. When she returned to her hometown area of Lake County, it was time to pursue her dream of owning a business. Read more here



Supima Design Competition Finalists Includes DEBUT Grad Leetal Platt


The Supima Design Competition, which includes finalists from seven prominent fashion schools, is celebrating its eighth year with fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra as its new mentor. The competing designers, including recent FIDM Advanced Fashion Design DEBUT Graduate Leetal Platt, will create capsule collections of clothing using Supima cotton fabrics. They will show their designs at a collective runway presentation at New York Fashion Week in September and Paris Fashion Week in October. Leetal, who won Best In Show at DEBUT 2015 and received the Koefia scholarship, will already be in Europe studying at the Koefia Academy in Rome this fall. 



Fashion Design Grad Is Director of Product Development for Appalatch Outdoor Apparel Co.


Name: Allyson Ansusinha

Title/Company: Director of Product Development for Appalatch

FIDM Major: Fashion Design

FIDM Grad Year: December 2011

Tell us a little about yourself. I'm always itching to create and to work with my hands. I love textiles and clothing. I love being a maker of style, or as I like to say, a facilitator of communication. Style is communicating your personality to the world and I love being a part of that. I love walking outside and watching the wind blow through the trees, doing yoga, reading fiction, and weaving fabric. I try to be optimistic and always look on the bright side.

What is Appalatch's mission? Our mission is to make high-quality, honest, accessible clothing in America. We want our clothing to have a wider reach than expensive luxury brands, but with the same quality. We create clothing with sentimental value, because we want it to be passed down through generations. We design with lasting style and quality to make that happen.

What is a typical day like for you as Director of Product Development? A typical day will have me bouncing all over the place. Working at a start up means I wear many hats. Things are constantly changing, and I roll with the punches. I may start by thinking about design and meditating on a concept before diving into conversations about our direction with assistants. Once the mood is set I like to start with textiles; I work with the Stoll Knitwear software to program a knit design that's in my head, and knit a sample. Usually I have to edit and repeat that step a few times. Once I'm satisfied with the textile, I either drape or flat pattern the garment design. Being the Director of Product Development means that I design all of our products and think through exactly how they're going to be made. It's like a puzzle, and I love it.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I love how rewarding the finished product is. My creative process tends to be chaotic--ideas, fabric swatches, and garment samples pile up. Sometimes I feel like I have to swim through the studio. But when a collection is finished and I see all of the the beautiful textures, graphics and silhouettes I created with the help of my team I feel so satisfied. 

How has FIDM helped you in your career? FIDM gave me an amazing foundation for working in this industry. My pattern making and sewing skills became super polished at FIDM, I learned to make tech packs (so important), and I learned how much work it really is to take the concept of a garment into reality.

Any advice for current FIDM Students? Work your butt off. You really have to be ambitious and put forth the effort to better yourself and grow. Listen to your intuition and don't let anyone take advantage of you. Oh, also, sleep. It does your body, mind, and spirit good.



FIDM Grads Showed Their Geek Couture Designs at the Her Universe Fashion Show at Comic-Con


FIDM Graduates Leetal Platt and Erica Williams, both 2015 DEBUT Graduates, and 2012 Alumna Kelly Cercone showcased their Geek Couture fashion designs at the Her Universe Fashion Show 2015 at San Diego Comic-Con. 


Leetal's dress, "Usagi's Transformation," (pictured above) was inspired by Sailor Moon. "I gravitated specifically to the art and themes that appear when the character Usagi goes though the transform to become Sailor Moon," she explains. "I made a nude illusion gown and tacked 40 yards of pink ribbon on the bodice. For the skirt half, I sewed on 2,000 feathers over five days as a throwback to the seasons where wings would appear during her change or her costume started to gain wings." Leetal, whose dress won the competition, created a second look and a runway "transformation" by creating two inner linings to the dress that were pulled out and wrapped around the waist, containing the dress, and a tailored, upscale version of the sailor suit shirt.

"On the runway, my model Chloe Dysktra pulled two tabs to let the skirt fall and unfold, creating a short to long reveal," she explains. "Both my model and I were shaking because we feared something might go wrong, but we rehearsed for hours, and it went off without a hitch. We were just so happy we pulled off the look itself, that the win was just an unexpected topper to the night." Leetal's prize is to design a collection with Her Universe to be sold in Hot Topic stores next year. 


Erica's design (above) was inspired by Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. "I am a dedicated fan to both the book and TV series, and I chose Daenerys as my main source of inspiration for this Geek Couture design, focusing on her rise from the flames and into the Mother of Dragons," she explains. "I decided to feature a strong feminine silhouette emerging from a train of flame-like chiffon, a dress fit "for a Khaleesi."

There is nothing I love more than bringing an idea to life and watching it walk down a runway, and this show in particular has a special place in my heart," adds Erica, who has degrees in Fashion Design and Theatre Costume Design from FIDM. "The HerUniverse Fashion Show gave me the chance to combine both of my degrees into a single design. Geek chic is definitely paving its way into the fashion world, and I am elated to be a part of it." 


It was Kelly's first time showing with Her Universe and attending San Diego Comic-Con so she was happy to see fellow FIDM Grads. "We chatted a bit online, before the event, but met for the first time during rehearsal," she explains. "It was really great; backstage we reminisced about our favorite instructors and DEBUT. All of our looks were so unique that it was a very non-competitive environment." Kelly's design, The Joker, was the Judge's Choice Winner which means that she will also work with Hot Topic on a future collection. 




Fashionista Calls Atelier Delphine a "Label to Watch"


Fashionista has a feature on Atelier Delphine, the label "stocked in all the cool-girl stores" founded by FIDM Graduate and Japanese-born designer Yuka Izutsu. The women's label was founded in 2011, out of a desire to craft romantic loungewear for the modern woman.


Discover muted colors and high-quality fabrics that are meant to serve as a sanctuary from trend-driven fast fashion. Atelier Delphine is currently stocked at Steven Alan in New York, Olive in Austin, Myrtle in L.A., and online at Anthropologie and Of a Kind, among locations. 



8 Great Careers FIDM Grads Have Woven in the World of Textile Design


FIDM's Textile Design Program prepares students for successful careers in the creation and styling of printed and woven textiles for the apparel and interior design industries. Keep up with the latest Textile Design posts here

Willis Park is the head fashion designer at PRMTIV WORLD

Brook Perdigon is the founder of Brook Perdigon Textiles

Karoline Korpor is the color coordinator at 5.11 Tactical

Karen E. Downes has designed prints for Madonna's juniors line, Material Girl

Krystelle Braham is working at the e-commerce start-up Nightfall

Kellie Huie designs a collection of girls clothes exclusively for Target.

Calli Cautela is now an Associate CAD Artist at White House Black Market

Ashley Lakin has designed prints for Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and bebe



Seven Graduates Honored at Reception and Exhibition of Their Menswear Collections


Seven graduates were recently honored at a reception and exhibition of their menswear collections, celebrating the first graduating class of FIDM's Advanced Study Program in Menswear. Over 200 menswear industry associates, family and friends of the graduates were in attendance to review the display of the graduates’ work at the L.A. campus.
















An illustrious judging panel named two winners: Devon Figueroa – Most Innovative Collection Zachary Hall – Most Marketable Collection (pictured, above). Each winner received a men's dress form, valued at $900, from Fashion Supplies Inc. and all seven graduates were given a $100 gift certificate to the store.




The judging panel (pictured, below) included: Joe Knoernschild, Co-Founder, Hurley and Billabong USA; Ilse Metchek, President, California Fashion Association; T.J. Walker, Vice President, Cross Colours; James Costa, Design Director, JACHS NY; FIDM Menswear Instructors. 


Photos by Alex J. Berliner/ABImages 



Brand New MPD Grad Is Design and Trend Researcher at Avery Dennison


Recent Merchandise Product Development Graduate Radhika Parsana, who previously studied biotechnology in India, already has a job as a design and trend researcher at Avery Dennison, a global leader in pressure-sensitive label technology serving the global markets for food, beverage/beer, wine, home and personal care products. 

"FIDM has groomed me for the industry. Having a background in biotechnology, excelling in an extremely competitive fashion industry was challenging. The international student advisor helped me understand and navigate the international laws for my internships," explains Radhika, who interned at Kellwood and Sue Wong while studying at FIDM.

"It is exciting to have found my calling and work with a wonderful organization that invests in my growth and exposes me to high-impact projects. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the FIDM faculty and Career Center. They have motivated me at every step and all I had to do was give my best and leave the rest up to FIDM." 



2013 FIDM Grad Amanda Bickert Now Working With Creative Director at PJ Salvage


Amanda Bickert graduated in 2013 with her degree in Merchandise Product Development. She's now working with the Creative Director at PJ Salvage as an Assistant Technical Designer, creating tech packs and facilitating communication of design details to vendors.

Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in Arizona with a love of art and all things creative. I remember being constantly inspired by nature and interesting buildings. Sewing became a hobby of mine in middle school, and one day I thought about how wonderful it would be to make a career out of it. I attended FIDM San Diego straight after high school and then moved to the LA campus for my last year, where I interned and ended up getting hired at Perry Ellis International for my first job in the industry.

Where are you working now? I recently got hired at PJ Salvage as the Assistant Technical Designer. I will be working with the Creative Director putting together tech packs and communicating design details to vendors, as well as assisting the tech team. I am excited to grow my knowledge in garment construction and technical details to round out my professional experience.

How do you feel FIDM has prepared you? FIDM was awesome in preparing me for the industry. They taught me how to interview well, make myself stand out, and to ALWAYS send a thank you letter/email. All of my instructors prepared me for the "real world" in one way or another. I loved hearing about their experiences in the industry and their advice to myself and other students. I still keep in contact with my Brand Portfolio teacher who has been a great contact since graduation.

How did you find out about FIDM? When I was in high school, a family friend of mine attended FIDM, and one day my best friend and I got a hold of a CD full of videos about FIDM. My best friend ended up being my roommate for two years at FIDM.

How did you decide on your major? I chose Product Development over Fashion Design to end up in a less competitive environment after graduation. I love designing and coming up with new concepts, but at the time I did not want to compete or have to prove that my designs were the best. I think everyone's vision is amazingly unique and intriguing. Turns out, I love product development and am so thankful this is the path I chose!

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? Public Speaking, all three fabric classes, Concept & Line Development, any class with Photoshop/Illustrator.

Any advice for current FIDM Students? Take advantage of all the resources FIDM sets you up with—from the Library to your instructors to the awesome Career Center. Continue to use them and keep in contact after you graduate!

What is your biggest goal right now? My goal right now is to keep learning and broadening my knowledge of the industry. I want to know everything about it down to the last button, in hopes of growing to be in a leadership role where I can use my experience to strengthen all aspects of the product development process.

Anything else you’d like to share? FIDM has been a great asset to my career and is very well known throughout the industry. I am proud to share with people that I am a graduate of FIDM!



10 FIDM Merchandise Marketing Grads with Great Careers in Fashion


A Merchandise Marketing degree from FIDM is a great starting point for a career in the global fashion industry. Here are 10 examples of opportunities for Merchandise Marketing Grads. 

Allison Molinatti just opened her second boutique in Napa Valley. 

PR executive, stylist, and designer Anita Herrera works in the business side of fashion.

Katherine Daou launched the San Diego-based Daou Denim Co. earlier this year. 

Phoenix-based Nicole Arend is a top wedding and event planner.

Kathryn Giarratano recently launched the jewelry line, Amour Absolu.

Fashion blogger Nikki Dror has interned for Nylon magazine. 

Ja'Shae Jones works in merchandising at Zappos. 

Entrepreneur Erica Thomas has a successful e-commerce and VIP drop-off business. 

Brittney Glenn is a buyer at Windsor Fashions.



L.A. Times Profiles FIDM Grad's Swimwear Label Velvet Sphinx


The L.A. Times recently featured six L.A. swimwear brands who are at the surf's edge of fashion. The roundup included FIDM Grad Bettina Ivanovich's label, Velvet Sphinx, which was founded in 2014. 

The Look Plenty of whimsical and downright wacky prints. Think sportier cuts such as sports bra style tops and deep v-neck one-piece suits emblazoned with colorful pizza, dog, snake and toucan prints.

"I wanted to bring something different to the market, something bold that would have people doing double takes," says Ivanovich, who is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. "The prints, styles and names are all derived from elements of my everyday life and from my childhood growing up in the '80s."

The Hook Ivanovich's bold take on bathing suits recently caught the eye of pop star Rihanna, who wore the pizza print Spicoli bikini during a Hawaiian vacation. The designer says she will be sending the singer additional statement-making styles in hopes she might be seen in more of Velvet Sphynx's splashy suits.

The Goods Ivanovich creates five to eight styles each season, and each comes in three to seven prints and colors. All styles are manufactured in Los Angeles and range from $58 for a top to $88 for a bottom and $180 for a one-piece suit.



An Evening with Pretty Little Liars Costume Designer Mandi Line


On Thursday, June 18, 2015, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Grove's Pacific Theaters in Los Angeles, Citi cardmembers are invited to a special event featuring ABC Family's hit show Pretty Little Liars. Trendsetting costume designer and FIDM Graduate, Mandi Line, and the show's creator and executive producer, Marlene King, will chat about behind the scenes stories, inspiration for the show's storylines, and how the costumes and characters in the series have evolved each season.

Before the event, guests will have an opportunity to take a souvenir photo in front of a green screen photo booth and browse a gallery of costume displays with wardrobe featured on the show. Cardmembers and guests will also receive complimentary popcorn, refreshments, and a parking pass for the evening. See below for full schedule:

6:00 p.m. - Check in/photo booth opens (inside Pacific Theatres Lobby)
7:00 p.m. - Event begins
8:00 p.m. - Audience Q&A and prize giveaways
8:30 p.m. - Event concludes

Cardmembers can bring up to three (3) additional guests. To RSVP, please email and indicate the following in your message:

Subject: 06/18 Pretty Little Liars - CITI RSVP

Cardmember's Name
Guests Names (limit 3)
First six digits of cardmember's Citi card

Please note: Official confirmation of your RSVP will come in the form of an email sent prior to the event. If you do not receive confirmation, the event has filled to capacity. Citi guests should park at valet or self-park in the Grove garage.



Vis Comm Grad Is Style Blogger and Parade Dresser & Trainer at Disneyland (Interview)


Style Her Everyday (SHE) blogger and Visual Communications Graduate Sheela Quintain 

How did you get into blogging at SHE? I actually started blogging in April of this year and the whole idea behind the start of SHE was to showcase my styling ability. I soon found my love for photography when I launched my first project with my friend Carla for a Coachella shoot. My friends have been a huge help in the projects that I produce for my blog and it's been a great journey so far discovering my love for fashion and styling others. Plus, I get to use my editing skills I learned while I was at FIDM so that's been a huge bonus.

Tell us about your current position at Disneyland. I am a cast member at Disneyland as a dresser and trainer for parades. I am absolutely in love with my job. I started out with the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World, which I actually found through the FIDM Career Center. It was basically a paid internship for six months, which led me to apply at Disneyland after it had ended and I landed a job at the Main Entrance taking tickets in 2013. Then I ended up transferring to where I am now, which is Entertainment Costuming. 

What does your job entail? I work on the new nighttime parade at Disneyland called Paint the Night. It's been a huge blessing and absolute great opportunity to be able to open up a new parade, especially for Disneyland's 60th anniversary. This has always been a dream of mine to be able to work for the Disney company and I just love every aspect of my job. From fittings to rehearsals to the actual parade nights, every day can be the same but different in a way that keeps me on my toes.

Before I became a part of Paint the Night, my first parade home was Mickey's Soundsational Parade at Disneyland and this parade has become a home to me now and this is what made me fall in love with my job the most. Never in a million years did I ever imagine myself dressing my favorite princesses and characters. After a year on the parade I interviewed for a position as a trainer and it just made me want to pass on the knowledge and love that I have for this parade to newcomers. Parades are my home and it's been a great learning environment to be in.

What are your ultimate career goals? Attending FIDM really opened up my eyes to so many more job opportunities out there that I never thought even existed. I went through wanting to be an event planner my first quarter. Then I fell in love with set decorating as the quarters went on. While I was at FIDM I interned for a PR firm in Beverly Hills and I thought I wanted to be in that light. But then I slowly realized I was in love with styling and costumes and being on movie sets. My ultimate career goal has always been to work on movies and TV sets. My absolute dream is to work on the Warner Bros. lot in wardrobe and costume.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? I always speak so highly of FIDM because it was always a dream school for me. FIDM has opened up doors for me and I thank the college for the countless, sleepless nights trying to perfect my projects, preparing me for job interviews and how to be professional in the industry. It's also so amazing to meet fellow FIDM students and alumni at work. I feel right at home because of the support we give one another. I feel so proud and honored to be an alumna. Thank you, FIDM, for bringing out all the creative juices in me. You don't know how much I miss the FIDM life--I wish I could relive every minute of it.



Allison Beilharz Says Her FIDM Degree Has One Hundred Percent Prepared Her For Her Fashion Career

Allison Beilharz graduated from FIDM in 2011 with her degree in Visual Communications. She's now working as the Brand Coordinator for Rosie Pope Maternity in New York, NY.

Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in Phoenix, AZ and I went to a private college prep high school. I applied and got into FIDM during my junior year—my teachers thought I was crazy to go to fashion school. I moved out to Los Angeles and started at FIDM one month after high school graduation. One month after I graduated from FIDM, I moved to New York for an internship with Kenneth Cole. Six months later, I moved back to Los Angeles and started doing visuals at Rosie Pope Maternity. Two and half years later, Rosie Pope moved me back to New York to be their Brand Coordinator—and here I am, a year later! 

What do you do at Rose Pope Maternity? Everything. Okay, not everything, but close. To sum up my job, I do everything you see: store windows, store design, interviews with Rosie, Instagram, etc. I have a say in all of that and do most of it. I think one of the benefits of working for a small company is that you can mold your job into anything you want because, in most companies, the need is there. Also, when you shine, you’re actually noticed.  

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM was probably the best decision; it has 100 percent prepared me for my job. Managing all the projects and getting used to spending hours upon hours (all the while, on a deadline) making sure something looks just right, has definitely prepared me. Also, since most of the teachers are/were in the industry, you have to pretend that they are your boss. You can learn what their expectations are and in turn what the expectations of your boss will be. Treat FIDM as practice for a real job. 

How did you find out about FIDM? I found out about FIDM my freshman year of high school. We were researching colleges we wanted to go to (never too early!) and I was at a college fair, looking at different schools in California. I came across FIDM’s brightly colored booth and a rep started asking me questions, “Do you doodle on all your papers? Do you color organize your closet? Do you like fashion?” Yes, yes, yes! That was the moment I knew I had to go to FIDM. 

How did you decide on your major? Shortly after I decided I wanted to go to FIDM (the day after the college fair) I began thinking of majors and because I thought it's all there was, I chose Fashion Design. To prepare for my major (like I said, never too early) I took a sewing class. I quickly realized that wasn’t for me, and I gave up on that idea. I went back online to look at what other majors FIDM offered and saw Visual Communications. When I read the potential job list and descriptions, everything was exactly where I saw myself in the future. Visual Communications was it! 

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? Every class was really valuable, honestly. There are three that really stick out though. Drafting was one of my favorite classes. My teacher turned out to be my absolute favorite. Drafting was where I learned to be precise on projects (measure twice, draw once) because she expected nothing but perfection. The other class would be Materials and Props/Window Design—I am lumping them together because you built and honed your skills in both. I learned the most useful, hands on, skills for my current job in that class: faux painting techniques, molding, prop design, prop building (measure twice, cut once). Besides learning those skills, they were fun classes! 

Any advice for current FIDM Students? As cliché as it sounds, get involved. Really. FIDM can be a very solitary place and it is so easy to get sucked into your own world because you are working on project after project, alone. Carving out a part of your day to go to Student Activities, join a club, or just to talk to the other people in the office, really makes a world of difference. The other advice I’d like to give is something my Portfolio teacher told my class. He said, remember that other people don’t think like you. It’s easy to get discouraged at a place like FIDM with so much talent and creativity in one spot; you start to think you aren’t that unique. But you have to remember that out in the “real” world, most people aren’t that creative and need unique minds like yours to be on their team. 

What is your biggest goal right now? Ahhh… this is forever the question. My biggest goal right now is to figure out how to keep growing and which way I want my career to go. 

Anything else you’d like to share? Again, it’s a cliché, but enjoy it! FIDM is a really awesome school and you truly get out of it what you put in. 



Zumiez Private Label Product Development Manager Ciel Kullman-Glover Visits FIDM on Her Way to Asia


FIDM Grad Ciel Kullman-Glover visited her alma mater recently as a guest speaker for the Premiere Merchandise Product Development Group—an elite group of FIDM Students who because of their outstanding scholastic achievements, qualify to attend special networking events.

Ciel graduated from FIDM in 2001 with a degree in International Manufacturing & Product Development. She's now the Private Label Product Development Manager at Zumiez and the FIDM Alumni President of the Seattle Chapter. In fact, Ciel was on her way to Asia on a business trip and stopped off in Los Angeles just to speak with the students.

She started off telling the students, "You can tell a graduate of FIDM over others as you are so industry ready. You're all on the right track for sure!"

She gave a little background on herself. She switched majors at different colleges before she came to FIDM. She was shopping at The Bon Marché (an historic department store founded in Seattle in 1890, now defunct) when she came across a Rampage clothing tag with FIDM's name on it. That was her first introduction to FIDM.

She studies Merchandise Marketing at FIDM and was shy about the math, but FIDM "spoke her language." She said she knew it was where she was supposed to be. The work ethic at FIDM translates into the industry. She let the students know, "You will work very hard [in the industry] just like you do here at FIDM. You are passionate about what you do—that's what makes you different from everyone else!"

Kevin Keele was her Career Advisor when she was a student at FIDM. He helped her get a Product Development internship at Adidas, and she said it changed the course of her career. She describes PD as a "happy medium of designing and production."

After graduating from FIDM, she worked at Mr. Rags as a private label designer. Then she moved over to Joe's Jeans (the parent company) and worked in brand development where she wore many hats. She did tech packs, overseas sourcing and costing, and she continued to get promoted. After five years at Joe's, she moved back to Seattle to work for Zumiez.

"It's very challenging and very exciting," she said. At Zumiez, she works with compliance teams, production teams, and designers. "Your people skills become amazing. From everything, you learn—and you take that with you wherever you go." 

Ciel works in private label at Zumiez. She told the students that Zumiez has 12 private label brands. It's a $160 million business. Among other things, Ciel manages tech design teams, product compliance teams, materials development, and the denim wash program. She manages the "A to Z of the product cycle, from concept to consumer."

Toward the end of her talk, Ciel explained to the students the objective of her upcoming business trip to Asia. She advised the students to pay attention in their Textile Science class as it's incredibly important information. She was headed to Asia to work with agents to create a virtual trend direction board—to review their fabric library and trims. 

The students gathered around her at the end of her presentation, asking her questions and exchanging business cards.



Find Out What Affliction Product Developer Hraché Novruzyan Learned at FIDM

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Affliction Apparel Product Developer and FIDM Grad Hraché Novruzyan visited her alma mater yesterday as a guest speaker for the Premiere Merchandise Product Development Group—an elite group of FIDM Students who because of their outstanding scholastic achievements, qualify to attend special networking events.

When she first started at FIDM, she said she noticed that many students said they wanted to own their own fashion lines, but as the quarters went on and students learned more and more about the breadth of the fashion industry, they changed their minds. The students found out about other career paths they didn't know about before. "Your goals are going to change," she told the students. 

Ever since she could remember, all she ever wanted to do was to have her own brand as a women's activewear fashion designer—to "become the next Billabong." But, she shifted her focus when she was hired at a small company doing both design and product development for menswear after she graduated from FIDM in 2010. After that, she was hired at Affliction as a Product Developer for menswear. She's been there for two years now and she absolutely loves it.

She advised the students to become friends with everyone including instructors, advisors, and fellow students. "Network as much as possible. And continue networking." It can only help you in your career.

When it comes to internships, she said students should be selective. They need to make sure they're signing up for a "legit" internship. She warned against some companies out there who just want free labor. She said to make certain they have the proper paperwork in order to get credit at FIDM. She herself interned at OBEY in graphic design. "Internships really help. Meet people and network!"

In FIDM's Merchandise Product Development Program, students learn how to do line plans, calendars, costing, sourcing, tech packs, 6 month financial plans, and Illustrator and Photoshop for flat sketching, among other things.

"I have a little library at home that I still refer to all the time. Never throw your FIDM reference materials out." Hraché said she especially uses her textile fabric swatch book.

"As a developer, you guys need to realize that you are the masterminds behind the curtain." Designers can go overboard, creating a garment that would be too expensive to produce. So, developers offer educated alternatives to make the piece less expensive. Choosing different fabrics, trim, or buttons—or suggesting a modified silhouette can cut costs. "You get to be creative."

"I learned from FIDM that criticism is a good thing. When your work gets criticized, allow yourself to cry for ten seconds and then move on. Just don't make the same mistake again," she said. "Don't hold grudges."

Her last bit of advice? "Take any job that's a foot in the door. You'll be surprised at what you'll learn and the experiences you will have." She now travels regularly to China, Korea, and Japan for work. "Being a Product Developer is one of the coolest jobs out there."

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Footwear Designer and FIDM Grad Lindsay Fontenot Travels to China for 3Dee International Two Weeks Into the Job

Lindsay Fontenot

Lindsay Fontenot graduated in March with her Professional Designation Degree in Merchandise Product Development. Just two weeks into her new job as an Assistant Footwear Designer/Product Developer at 3Dee International, a footwear agency in Long Beach, she went on a business trip to China to plan upcoming seasons for clients, develop new styles, and tour footwear factories. She even got to see one of her designs being made right in front of her.

Tell us about your recent trip to China: I started work a month after I graduated from FIDM. I work at a footwear agency in Long Beach called 3Dee International. I help create and develop new styles depending on our customer needs. I work closely with our office in China to develop and correct these styes in the most efficient way possible.I was working at 3Dee International for about two weeks when they sent me to China. I was there for two weeks where I had meetings with different clients where we planned their upcoming seasons, developed new styles and corrected prototypes hand in hand. 

I also had the opportunity to tour one of our footwear factories, which was a really cool experience. You never realize how many people touch a shoe while it’s being made. I was also able to work closely with our sample room, learning how each individual shoe is made and to point out if any problems arise and quickly solving them.

One of my favorite days was the day I went to the open-air market, where you literally find everything you would need in the apparel/footwear industry.

Overall, it was a great learning experience and I am so appreciative to my company for sending me. I took classes both at FIDM and LSU about China and doing production overseas, but you never realize how different it is until going over there and seeing first hand how the business works. It was such a great trip. 

Tell us a little about yourself: I am from Louisiana. I graduated in 2014 from LSU. My major was Fashion Merchandising and I have a minor in Business Administration. I moved out here in July to go to FIDM. I am a huge history nerd so I get my inspiration from museums, old movies, and thrift shops. I love the idea of updating existing classic styles into modern fun ways. I also love painting, hiking, and hanging out with my dog, Molly.  

How did you get into footwear design? I always wanted to be a buyer until I took a costume history class at LSU and fell in love with footwear design. So, I decided to attend FIDM after I graduated to learn more about the product development process.

Describe a recent design of yours: One of the cool things about going to China was that I actually got to see one of my designs being made right in front me and was intricately involved in the sample process. I created a wedge mule for one of our customers with fun uses of prints and colors. Mules are very on trend right now and I think the customer really appreciated it. 

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? I feel very indebted to FIDM for all that I do now. FIDM and all my professors encouraged me to be creative and go against the norm. I learned so much about the industry, the technology, the terminology and so many things that I will continuously use throughout my career. I loved my time at FIDM and would recommend it to anyone looking to passionately follow their dreams. 

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? I would have to say that my Photoshop, CAD, Line Development and Brand Portfolio classes were the ones that got me to where I am right now. At least in the footwear industry, those are the skills that I use everyday. I am constantly asked to sketch a new concept up, look out for the latest trend or even photoshop a different color onto a shoe. These are skills that will only get better with time, but FIDM gave me the basic foundation that I needed for my career. 

Any advice for current FIDM Students? I would tell any FIDM student to learn as much as you can, be creative as you can and try to improve yourself as much as you can before entering the workforce. It’s in those times that you find who you really are and what you’re really passionate about. And on a side note, I would say get close to all of your teachers. They are the best resources and are so knowledgable and helpful. I can honestly say they really do want to see you succeed and will help you in any way they can. In fact, my brand portfolio teacher is the one who helped me out with getting this job. 

What is your biggest goal right now? My biggest goal right now is to learn as much as I can in the footwear industry. I hope to be promoted from Assistant Footwear Designer to Footwear Designer soon. For now, I am trying to learn as much as possible with my new job. Every day is a new adventure and it leaves so many opportunities for the future!

Anything else you’d like to share? I would also like to tell fellow FIDM students to enjoy their time there. Graduation comes too soon and you’ll actually miss going to that beautiful building everyday and being the most creative you can be! 



10 Awesome Action Sports Jobs Held by FIDM Grads


From surf and skate to snow and streetwear, FIDM Graduates are working in all aspects of the ever-growing action sports industry. Keep up with the latest here

Gregg Garcia is the Sr. Talent Acquisitions Manager at ASICS America. 

Lindsay Keller is a Buyer and Merchandiser at RVCA

Alan Liu is the Founder and Creative Director of Westcomb Outerwear.

Alicia Sanibanez is Design & Product Manager at Billabong

Robert Wright is the CEO of LRG

Kelly Knaggs is a Design Assistant at Pac Sun. 

Daniel Kasidi Nyaggah is the Founder of Rastaclat

JT Akers is the former Senior Product Manager for Basketball at Adidas, now working as a Private Consultant in Hong Kong.  

LauraJean Corideo is a Technical Designer/Production Coordinator for DQM

Brian McDonell is Co-Founder and President of Melin



FIDM Grad is Founder and Creative Director of Westcomb Outerwear (Interview)


Name: Alan Yiu 

Company: Westcomb

Title: Founder and Creative Director

Responsibilities: My primary role is designing and developing the men’s collection as well as overseeing the creative direction and strategies relating to the brand and product offering.

What was your path since graduating in 2001? After graduation, I returned to work at the contract manufacturer I was employed at prior to attending FIDM. When work no longer felt meaningful I took the opportunity to work on my business plan, and launched Westcomb at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City in 2005, with the mission statement to enhance human-powered adventures through innovation.

What do you enjoy most about your career and why? I think most of us can agree that seeing product ship to customers is very rewarding as it is the culmination of 16 months of sweat and dedication. Sitting on a ski lift and seeing the guy next to you who isn’t a friend or family member wearing your brand to me is a testament that you did something right. That feeling simply can’t be beaten.

Aside from the end game of selling, the product creation is equally rewarding. Every season you have new materials, new colors, and new objectives. I love the challenge we face as designers to distill a myriad of information from trends, style performance, customer feedback, etc., into a collection that is relevant and delivers on all objectives.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? Prior to attending FIDM I had already worked in the industry for a number of years after my undergraduate degree. One of my greatest frustrations at that time was not having what I viewed as “textbook” knowledge relating to apparel manufacturing. The factory experience while great wasn’t enough for me. Not knowing the proper construction techniques, terminology, and processes left me with a huge learning curve. FIDM was instrumental in bridging that gap.

What are your ultimate career goals? I feel extremely fortunate to have launched my own brand which fulfilled one career aspiration. The next collective goal I share with my team is to have Westcomb recognized as a leading apparel brand recognized for innovation, craftsmanship, and for being manufactured locally.



Fashion Design Grad Launches Trend Fashion Forecasting Service (Interview)


Name: Jaime Peck

Company: trnd

Degree: Fashion Design

Grad Year: 2008

What was your industry experience prior to launching trnd? I worked on both the merchandising and design sides of the fashion industry. At Tilly’s HQ I was responsible for putting together seasonal forecasts for all departments including Junior, Mens, Girls, and Boys. Following my experience at Tilly's, I worked (work) as a Trend Analyst/Designer for add-black, a creative design agency. There, I contract as a designer and work on swimwear for Target and other brands and lines.

What made you start the business? The launch of trnd was due to my acknowledgment that there wasn’t any other trend service offering customized reports for specific markets. Businesses were needing to hire me in-house to interpret the reports other services were publishing. trnd now offers Junior market reports as well as a Contemporary-level analysis of runway shows.

What separates trnd from other forecasting services? trnd strives to focus on key seasonal trends by category and creates mood boards using imagery that inspires and gives clear direction. While other services tend to offer vague or conceptual forecasts, our reports are specific to certain markets so we analyze past, present, and current trends to be as specific as possible when formulating our predictions.

We hear that you employ another FIDM Grad. Yes. Lauren Pettigrew is currently our Trend Representative.

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