Interior Design Alumna Featured on the Cover of OC Family Magazine


FIDM Interior Design Graduate Erika Brechtel was recently featured on the cover of OC Family magazine for their "Inspired Mom" issue. An award-winning brand stylist, she specializes in creating unique identities for clients in the fashion, interior design, food and wine, health and beauty, travel, art, photography, and lifestyle industries. Her website features advice and examples for styling your business, home, yourself, and your life.



Follow FIDM Social Ambassador and Alumnus Paul Hagopian Reporting Live from Fashion Culture Trade Fair Fi3


FIDM Alumnus Paul Hagopian founder of premium denim line Shade55 is reporting live from fashion culture trade fair Fi3 today and tomorrow for FIDM Social! 

Fi3, which stands for Fashion x (Innovation x Insight x Influence), is a self-described “trade event, music festival and conference series” focused on the men’s market and taking place at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California – the same venue as FIDM’s annual DEBUT Runway Show

 Hagopian will be acting as a guest Instagram contributor for @FIDMCollege and live-tweeting from @Shade55denim offering a glimpse into this cutting-edge music-festival-meets-fashion mash-up:







Read our exclusive Q&A with Hagopian, whose previous work experience includes William Rast, People’s Liberation and Justin Timberlake prior to launching his own label, currently sold at Nordstrom.







FIDM Alumni Association Presents 'Branding Bootcamp' Workshop


Your logo, photography, web design, social media and other marketing collateral speaks directly to your customer before you have even said a word. We'll take a look at the trailblazing companies and brands that are getting it right so you can be inspired to brand or rebrand yourself or business. Taught by Victoria N. Koch of A Gifted Society. FIDM Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Students, and Guests are invited to attend.

Date: Saturday, July 12, 2014

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Location: 1010 Wilshire Conference Room, Los Angeles, 90017; Free parking at 637 St. Paul Street

Price: $60 FIDM Alumni; $70 Guests

Included: Rooftop lunch from New Moon, Peddler's Creamery ice cream, Sprinkles cupcakes, and a goody bag. 

Spaces are limited. Please email Victoria at for payment and registration instructions.



National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay Delivers FIDM Commencement Speech


NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay delivered the FIDM commencement speech to 2,000 FIDM Graduates at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on June 21. posted Mr. Shay's speech in its entirety, included below. Please visit for the complete article.

Thank you for that kind introduction. As Alan Simpson, the former U.S. Senator from Wyoming, once said when taking the stage after a particularly flattering welcome, “Thank you for that kind introduction. My father would have enjoyed it, and my mother would have believed it!”

So thank you, Barbara, and thank you to President Hohberg, Department chair Marlene Dunn, the FIDM board of directors, faculty, staff and all the students who have made me feel so welcome here on campus.

And to the graduating class of 2014 – congratulations! Congratulations to all of you, for making it to a day that many of you thought would never come (I’m talking to you, parents!). I know it hasn’t been easy. Many of you have worked full-time while earning your degrees. In fact, I bet some of you are supposed to be at work right now! You have survived countless all-nighters (and I don’t mean the kind you will pull tonight while you’re celebrating!). Some of you are even celebrating your second graduation here at the Staples Center. So congratulations to you all!

It was just a few days ago that President Obama delivered the commencement address at UC  Irvine, and I’m sure that when FIDM announced that this year’s commencement speaker was “a 52-year-old President from Washington, D.C., who is highly involved in the political process,” many of you naturally thought you were going to get “the other President.” Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you. But as my kids say, you did get the “President of Shopping!”

So thank you for giving me this honor and inviting me to be here today. 

It’s an honor because you had your choice of many other qualified speakers. And it’s an honor because of the incredible reputation of FIDM and the 55,000 graduates it has produced during the past 45 years. But mostly, it’s an honor because of the opportunity to spend a few minutes with the class of 2014 and your families and friends on such an important day in your lives.

And because it’s such an important day, I wanted a member of my family here with me too, so I’m joined by one of our three children, our eight-year-old daughter, Pearson. Pearson is pretty excited to be here for at least two reasons. First, when she was just three years old, she was already dressing herself for preschool, putting together these crazy outfits that somehow managed to match. I knew we were on to something when the preschool teachers would say, “Oh look, here comes Betsey Johnson!” So Pearson loves fashion!

But she may have been even more excited because she got to skip her last day of second grade, escape the heat and humidity of Washington, and see Universal and Disney. I’m just happy to have her here with me to be part of this special day.

When I visited FIDM a few months ago, President Hohberg gave me a tour around campus. She even kept the Annual Exhibition of Motion Picture Costume Design here two extra days so I could see the dress that Keira Knightly wore in “Anna Karenina,” and my personal favorite, the skirt that Keanu Reeves wore in “47 Ronin”!

I was amazed to learn that FIDM offers students 22 different majors, ranging from Merchandise Marketing to Digital Media. The breadth of study and rigorous curriculum provide one of the best launching pads in the country for you to reach the next level of success in your careers.

But what I enjoyed most about my trip was the chance to spend some time with some of the students, just talking to them and learning about why they chose FIDM and what they’ve enjoyed about their experiences. You know, a degree from FIDM is a diploma on one side and a ticket to a great future on the other. And from the conversations that I had, it’s obvious that FIDM students are well on their way to exciting futures. 


In fact, I think you’re all well on your way.

You are poised to be leaders in an industry that supports 42 million jobs – that’s one in four jobs across America.

And retail drives that kind of economic activity because it’s a dynamic industry, an industry that’s always moving and always changing. That’s why, if you have imagination and drive, you can start out in the stockroom, or behind a counter, and wind up in a top job in marketing, management or even in the corner office.

I happen to believe that I’ve got one of the best jobs in Washington, maybe THE best job in Washington, because I have the chance to represent an industry I love and tell the stories about how the retail industry is delivering value for customers every day, creating jobs, serving communities and driving innovation. I also love it because I have the chance to work with dozens of CEOs and senior executives, many of whom have fabulous stories about their careers.

Look at Terry Lundgren, the chairman and CEO of Macy’s, who started his career right here in L.A., delivering china and tableware to local Bullock’s stores from the back of the family station wagon. And Karen Katz, who was turned down for a job at Neiman Marcus in 1985, and was named chairman and CEO of that iconic brand in 2011.

Or our chairman, Steve Sadove, who started in a marketing role with a consumer products company and rose through the ranks to be chairman and CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue.

Or Jim Wright, the former chairman and CEO of Tractor Supply Company. The day he was named CEO in 2000, the investment community welcomed him by dropping TSC’s share price from $1 to 80 cents! But hard work and vision paid off, and Jim saw the share price exceed $120 before he retired as CEO last year.

There are so many career paths in retail. Did you know that retail employs more financial analysts than Wall Street? More software engineers than Silicon Valley? And hundreds of thousands of executives in real estate and construction and supply chain and digital media?

So it’s not only the heights you can reach, it’s the unlimited career paths. That makes the retail industry a pure meritocracy. Everyone has an opportunity to succeed. Talent, hard work, perseverance and sometimes a little luck will take you as far as you want to go.


I’m bullish on the future of retail, too. Because as we enter the “second generation of the digital revolution,” it’s become clear that it’s not “bricks versus clicks.” On the contrary, it’s omnichannel retailers who are winning, retailers who have learned to embrace both online and in-store customer experiences. There’s no other industry in the world that is as consumer-centric and customer-focused as retail, and that’s what makes the future so exciting. That’s also why retail isn’t just entering the second stage of the digital revolution, it’s leading it.

Earlier this year, I spent some time with Jack Dorsey, founder of Square and co-founder of Twitter. We talked about the future of the industry, and how technology can remove the remaining barriers to payments transactions and the interaction between customers and retailers.

The entire business model at Square is based on using technology to remove one of the most stubborn obstacles in the relationship between retailers and their customers – payments. And that, in turn, is helping consumers perceive retail brands as seamless experiences across many channels – online, in-store, digital, mobile – rather than a series of individual, inconsistent, one-off experiences.

Sometime soon, we all will be able to walk into a store, pick what we want and walk out without stopping at the checkout line. Of course, some people do this already – they’re called “shoplifters.” But in the near future, with RFID chips and sensors, we will do this and still be called “valued customers.”

But of all the things to be excited about today, you know the most exciting thing about this bright future for retail? You’re going to lead it.


Let me conclude by sharing a few “Life Lessons” that I’ve learned – mostly the hard way – in the hope that as you begin your careers, I can save you a few mistakes along the way.

When I graduated from college, three of my best friends were headed to Colorado to ski for a year. As much as I wanted to go with them, my dad had already put me through college, and with a younger brother and two younger sisters behind me, I didn’t think it was fair to ask my dad to subsidize a year-long ski trip with my buddies. So I went to law school instead … where he supported me for three years!

The truth is, I wasn’t committed to law school. In fact, I spent most of my student loan money traveling to Colorado to ski with my buddies – and I finished in the bottom 20 percent of my class after my first year.

And so I learned Life Lesson #1 – When You Make a Decision, Be Committed!

I spent the next couple of years digging myself out of the hole I was in. Law school is very competitive, and no one made way for a guy in the bottom 20 percent of the class. But I worked my way onto the Law Review, improved my grades, and by the third year, I had moved into the top third of the class.

That taught me Life Lesson #2 – Clean Up Your Own Messes!

After graduation, a trade association offered me a job that paid only half of what I was offered by a law firm. And you know what? I went with my heart and accepted the trade association’s lower offer.

That’s when I learned Life Lesson #3 – Happiness Is More Important Than Money.

In my career, I have been fortunate to be mentored by some amazing people. The judge who hired me after law school, the McDonald’s executive who encouraged me to go to Washington and chase my dream 20 years ago, the group of CEOs who hired me for this job, and many others. They’ve opened doors, shown me new ways forward, pointed me in the right direction and kicked me in the rear. I wouldn’t be here without them.

All of that taught me Life Lesson #4 – Find a Mentor.

One of those mentors is a very successful entrepreneur from Houston named Doc Cohen. He has 600 retail employees working for him. Doc once looked at me and said, “The last thing that I ever did by myself was hire my first employee.”

That taught me Life Lesson #5 – No One Ever Accomplished Anything Great By Themselves.


Let me close by making a few final observations. FIDM is an institution that teaches young people to think for themselves, to design for others and to innovate for the world. That ought to come easy for you. After all, you’re Millennials. They say that in addition to being impatient and entitled, you’re generally predisposed to shake things up because you’re so intolerant of the status quo.

So I say, go ahead – shake things up. And remember George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Be unreasonable. Challenge the status quo. Make this a better place. Take some risks. Don’t be afraid to fail, or to fall flat on your face. It’s one the best ways to achieve success in life. And as Winston Churchill, who knew a little bit about falling on his face, observed, "Success is stumbling from failure to failure, with no loss of enthusiasm."

And one final bit of advice: While you’re being unreasonable and challenging the status quo, achieving success – don’t forget to have fun along the way.

To the graduating class, congratulations on your accomplishments. Thank you for letting me be a part of your celebration. And good luck in making the most of the great opportunities ahead.



National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay Advises FIDM Grads To "Be Unreasonable"


At FIDM Graduation last week at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, FIDM presented the president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, Matthew Shay, with the first honorary degree in our college's history—a Merchandise Marketing Professional Designation Degree. Mr. Shay delivered the commencement speech to the 2,000 FIDM Students receiving their degrees that day.

California Apparel News asked him what he said to the graduates, to which he responded, "Simply put, I told them to be unreasonable, challenge the status quo and don’t accept 'the mess we’re in'—which is the Latin translation of status quo. Today’s graduates are some of the most talented young adults this country has ever seen, and FIDM has an extremely unique model to bring out that talent and make each person shine: FIDM is an institution that teaches young people to think for themselves, to design for others and to innovate for the world. And in speaking to the 2014 graduating class, I took immense pride in being able to tell these already incredibly talented individuals that retail offers exciting, rewarding and unique career opportunities and that where they start almost always isn’t where they end up in retail."

"Of course, I also spent some time telling them my own faults, failures and successes," Mr. Shay continued. "With that I reminded them what Winston Churchill once said about success: 'Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.'"

"I am extremely humbled and honored to have been a part of the class of 2014’s big day. It is surely something I will never forget."

Read more on California Apparel News. Matthew Shay's entire commencement speech can be found on



Merchandise Marketing Grad is Buyer at Surf Shop

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Name: Kelsey Hinson

Grad Date: March 2014

Major: Merchandise Marketing

Current Position: Buyer, Ladies footwear, and boys and kids apparel, Huntington Surf & Sport

Where did you go to school before FIDM?

After high school in Costa Mesa, CA, I studied Fashion Merchandising at Orange Coast Community College before transferring to FIDM.

How did you find FIDM?

I looked into FIDM originally 6 years ago when I was in high school, but because there wasn’t a Bachelor program at the time, I decided to go to community college. When I was looking to transfer to a 4-year school, I stumbled upon FIDM. It was the right place at the right time.

What was the most rewarding part of your FIDM experience?

Getting the chance to work with teachers who have so much industry knowledge and experience has been very rewarding. I really like working with teachers who challenge me to be a better student.

What advice would you give to future FIDM students?

My advice is to prepare for a lot of work. People comment that fashion school is easy, and all you do is draw. However I’ve never had to utilize time management skills more than when class is in session at FIDM.

How has your education at FIDM helped you in your career thus far?

I’ve learned a lot of great industry information, and the real-life scenarios have prepared me for my career so far.

What are your future career goals?  

I want to continue to work as a buyer, however one day I’d love to have my own store.




Merchandise Marketing Grad Develops Products at Chef Works

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Name: Allison Ives

Grad Date: June 2014

Major: Merchandise Marketing

Current Position:  Product Development Assistant, Chef Works


How did you find FIDM?

After graduating from San Diego State, I decided I wanted to look into a more creative career path.  I have always wanted to own my own business, and have always had a love for travel and fashion. 

What was the most rewarding part of your FIDM experience?

The knowledge I gained from amazing and inspiring teachers. The most rewarding part of FIDM was that it taught me to really believe in myself, and that hard work truly does pay off.

What advice would you give to future FIDM students?

Always take advantage of networking events. Put yourself out there, volunteer and be engaged with the FIDM campus and activities.  Be open to trying anything in the industry, because it may lead you on a path that you never imagined. 

How has your education at FIDM helped you in your career thus far?

From intern opportunities to skill sets that I use daily at my job, FIDM has helped me get on an amazing career path. The supportive and inspiring staff at FIDM has made me push myself and pursue my goals. Each class at FIDM has given me knowledge of the industry and has prepared me to apply the skills and knowledge to the workplace.

What are your future career goals?  

I want to be a product developer and design for my own clothing brand in the future.




Merchandise Marketing Grad Earns Two Degrees

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Name: Marissa Blankenship

Grad Date: June 21, 2014

Major: Merchandise Marketing, Professional Designation

Current Position: Sales Associate, Pier 1 Imports


How did you find FIDM?

I had my heart set on FIDM since I was a sophomore in high school in Bakersfield, after a campus representative came and conducted a presentation in my art class. As I continued throughout my high school years it became clear that my parents preferred me to attend a four-year, liberal arts university. During my high school senior year I came across a school in Newberg, OR called George Fox University, that had a program with FIDM. They allowed their Fashion Merchandising/Interior Design students to complete three years at George Fox and attend FIDM during senior year in the Professional Designation program. This was the best of both worlds for my parents and me. As a first generation college student it was amazing to be granted the opportunity to attend both schools and earn two degrees in four years.

What was the most rewarding part of your FIDM experience?

The most rewarding part of my FIDM experience was interacting with the knowledgeable faculty and being offered a variety of classes. I gained valuable new skills in the areas of buying and allocation at FIDM. I completed my first quarter on-campus, but for my second and third quarter I took half of my classes online and commuted to LA from Bakersfield once a week. It was important for me to still have an in-class experience and to be able to interact with professors and classmates. My professors, both online and on-campus, supported me tremendously and challenged me in new areas. I am thankful for the time they gave me when I needed help, the encouragement when I was unsure, and the praise when I succeeded.

What advice would you give to future FIDM students?

Do not limit yourself and try to fit into a box someone else made. Expand and develop based on what you love. It is your mind, your creativity, and your happiness at stake. If you do not stand up for what you desire you’ll end up being shoved into someone else’s box, being bored, because they dictated the direction of your life. Albert Einstein said it well, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” So take the time to find what it is that you love and do what is necessary to pursue it.

How has your education at FIDM helped you in your career thus far?

FIDM has helped me find my passion for the buying and allocating fields, which has provided me with a direction for my life. It has helped me to better understand the buying and merchandising process and has allowed me to excel in my current position at Pier 1. My FIDM education has helped me earn the respect of both my peers and supervisors, as I am often called upon to perform special projects and given more freedom to exercise my creative ability.

What are your future career goals? 

I aspire to stay with Pier 1 Imports and move to their corporate office in Fort Worth, TX as part of their buying and allocation teams. I am currently in the process of partnering with my regional manager to determine positions that would be best for me and to start the transition towards my desired career.




DEBUT Grad Carol Wong Profiled in East Valley Tribune


DEBUT Graduate Carol Wong and her medieval-themed collection are profiled in the East Valley Tribune

"Wong applied her love for fashion design and creation in high school, when she joined Chandler High’s Fashion Club — a program run by FIDM — after a speaker from the design school visited Chandler. Wong’s involvement with the program included the submission of eight or nine outfits, a concept board, an essay, and a full-ride scholarship to FIDM Los Angeles for one year.

"I was honored, they told me a lot of people applied,” she said, “it showed my family, who were a bit on the fence about the fashion industry; it showed them I was capable.



Recent Business Management Grad Is Merchandise Coordinator at Charlotte Russe


Recent Graduate Hillary Munns, who has a B.S. in Business Management and A.A. in Merchandise Marketing from FIDM, is the Merchandise Coordinator for non-denim bottoms at Charlotte Russe in San Francisco. "I coordinate samples to ensure that the Merchant is prepared, on-time, and on-trend," explains the spring graduate. Jim Masciocchi in FIDM's Career Center helped Hillary make the connection with Charlotte Russe after an on campus recruiting event. 

"FIDM played a huge role in preparing me for my current positon," Hillary adds. "Not only do I reference the academic lessons I learned on a daily basis, but also the personal skills, attention to detail, and professionalism that FIDM instilled in me from the first day of my A.A. program to the conclusion of my B.S."



Merchandise Marketing Grad Focuses on Retail

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Name: Stacy Rose

Major: Merchandise Marketing

Grad Date: June 2014

Prior School: University of Arizona

Current Position: Educator, Lululemon Athletica

How did you decide on FIDM?

After working in retail for a year, I decided that I wanted to understand more about the operations behind the retail structure. I had friends who attended FIDM and they told me that the fashion school was the perfect opportunity for people like me (college graduates) to learn the fashion business.

What was the best part of the FIDM experience?

The most rewarding part was that I got to take my knowledge and apply it to my job at Lululemon. I have learned an invaluable amount while attending the Professional Designation program. I am extremely excited to take what I have learned into my next job.

How does your FIDM education help you in your career?

At work, I am much more knowledgeable about the structure and the functions at my company as well as why things happen as they do. I now understand the consumer perspective at a much deeper level, which will help me in my career. I look at the fashion and retail industry in a completely new light and I feel confident that I can make a difference in whatever part of the industry I land.

What are your future career goals?

I would love to work (in wholesale or marketing) for a company whose values match up with mine. I would love to work with buyers in order to help them choose the proper products for their customer.



'The Fault in Our Stars' Costume Designer Is Alumna Mary Claire Hannan


FIDM Alumna Mary Claire Hannan is the Costume Designer of the blockbuster film The Fault in Our Stars, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Her past credits include Into the Wild, The Kids Are All Right, and Red Eye, among many others, and her work has been exhibited at the FIDM Museum & Galleries. She is currently at work on The Longest Ride, to be released in 2015. 


"Materializing the written word into an on screen character is fascinating to me. I also really enjoy the collaboration with the director and actors in the creative process," she says. "I have worked with incredible talent, most of them Oscar® winners."

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MPD Alumna is Thriving While Pursuing B.S. Degree in Business Management


Name: Johnae McDonald

Degree: Merchandise Product Development

Current Major: Business Management

Tell us about the internships and jobs you've had since arriving at FIDM. My very first internship took place at women's contemporary brand Nation LTD, as a design intern. I did a bit of everything, from providing assistance at fit sessions and photo shoots, to running errands to the showroom and sample makers. Then I spent about six months interning at Bebe in their Fabric R&D and Design departments. The internship with Bebe was definitely the best that I've ever done, because I got a feel of what it's like to be a designer on their team. I would attend meetings, create trend reports, and help the design team at style outs and presentation set ups. The highlight of the internship was when they let me create my own design and had a sample made.

After that I scored a job at PhaSHEN Inc. as an Assistant Product Developer. The company is a full-package vendor whose clients include GUESS and Splendid/Ella Moss. It was a great experience in a sense that I got a chance to see what it's like to work on the vendor side, and learned more about the import business. Then I started interning at a company called NuORDER as a Sales Development intern. It's an online wholesale platform that streamlines the ordering process for brands and buyers. It's basically e-commerce for wholesale. 

What was it like to recently speak to a class at FIDM? I was honored that Susan Spencer asked me to speak, because I'm only 19, and I'm still a student myself! Overall it just felt great to share my experiences in the industry with my peers.

How are you enjoying the Business Management Program? I love it! I feel that I've learned so much between the Merchandise Product Development and Business Management programs, and it's given me the confidence to eventually start my own business.



Merchandise Marketing Grad Plans Career as Buyer

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Name: Julie Simmons

Grad Date: March 2014

Current Position: Helen Ficalora, Sales Associate

Major: Merchandise Marketing

What brought you to FIDM?

I always knew I wanted to do something different after high school in Phoenix, Arizona. Going to a university sounded like fun, but I knew I would get bored quickly and wanted to push myself to be successful as soon as possible. A family friend heard my dilemma and told me about FIDM. I went to the Open House and immediately knew that FIDM was the perfect school for me.

What was the most rewarding part of your FIDM experience?

I knew from the first day of classes that I made the right choice by going to FIDM and was going to learn more in a short two years than I ever had before. The most rewarding part was learning truly useful skills and being able to apply them directly to jobs in the industry.  Every teacher was so knowledgeable and I gained so much in every single class, whether it was English Composition or Merchandising Strategies. 

What advice would you give to future FIDM students?

My advice is to create relationships with as many people as possible. Not only do you feel more confident and comfortable knowing people around you, but it also helps you to succeed on a professional level. Get to know all of your teachers, become friends with your classmates, and introduce yourself to everyone. Every job I have gotten since starting FIDM has been through connections I met through fashion school. Even after graduating, teachers and students are constantly reaching out to me with new opportunities.

How has your education at FIDM helped you in your career thus far?

Everything from writing skills, to formulas learned in Merchandise Buying, to concepts taught in site management, to being able to walk confidently into an interview has helped me in my career thus far.  I successfully maintain two different brand’s social media accounts due to Mrs. Hinckley pounding into my head how to get the consumer’s attention and post meaningful and interesting content.  I am in charge of creating, planning, and delegating our store’s monthly sales goals due to my proficiency in Excel and Merchandise Math. FIDM has provided me with everything I need to be successful in the industry and I couldn’t be more appreciative of the knowledge each teacher has passed down.

What are your future career goals?  

My goal is to come back to FIDM for the Bachelor’s program. During that time, I plan to intern with a corporate company in their buying department. I hope to get enough experience through the next two years that I can land a job as a buyer by the time I graduate in 2016.  I want to work in the corporate retail industry for a while and learn everything there is to know. Once I am ready, my mom and I plan to open up our own boutique.   



Merchandise Marketing Grad Adds Bachelor's Degree in Business Management

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Name: Elizabeth Poteracki

Major: Merchandise Marketing, BS Business Management

Grad Date: June 2014

Current Position: Freelance Branding Consultant, Greenlee Swimwear

How did you find FIDM?

I initially attended UC Irvine after going to high school in Southern California. I was having a difficult time choosing a major and I toured the FIDM OC campus in my second year of college. After about a year of convincing my parents, I finally applied to FIDM. I was very excited to make the change because I knew FIDM was a perfect fit for me.

What was the most rewarding part of attending FIDM?

Realizing that my career aspirations lie within retail and seeing how my education will be instrumental in achieving my goals is rewarding. I am happy to discover that I have both a passion and talent for business, fashion, and the retail industry.

How has your education helped your career so far?

I have been able to sharpen my social media marketing, store merchandising, and critical thinking skills at FIDM. Being able to implement strategies and principles from the classroom into my actual work has been gratifying.

What are your career goals?

My ultimate goal is to be an executive in the retail industry. I am currently in the BS Business Management program and am considering going for my MBA after FIDM.



June 2014 Merchandise Marketing Grad Interns at TJ Maxx

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Name: Gunjan Bansal

Major: Merchandise Marketing

Grad Date: June 2014

What is your current position: Intern, New Business Development, TJ Maxx

Prior School: Swami Vivekananda High School, Mumbai, India

How did you find FIDM?

After extensive research online, I discovered FIDM as a leading institution for the fashion industry. I instantly knew this was a great fit to pursue my career goals to expand from jewelry to accessories and apparel.

What was your favorite part of your FIDM education?

At FIDM I learned that research is not just an art, it's a science. Using the free library resources at FIDM truly made it an amazing learning experience. Also meeting people with different aspirations and networking was an opportunity to connect and learn.

What are your future career goals?

My short term goal is to work with a big brand in their buying department and gain the experience to effectively manage the product side of the business. My long term goal is to own a brand and sell to major retailers across the globe.



Merchandise Marketing Grad Interns at Rachel Zoe Studio

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Name: Jessica Harshman

Where did you go to school before FIDM?             

University of Colorado-Boulder, BA in History, with a minor in Ethnic Studies

What is your FIDM major?

Merchandise Marketing

Grad Date: June 2014

What is your current position?

Styling Intern, Rachel Zoe Studio

How did you find FIDM?

While attending undergrad and studying History, I was writing a fashion blog and became enamored with the global fashion industry and craved to learn more. I researched trends, kept up with bloggers, styled and shopped for my friends, devoured fashion magazines, and became known as the campus fashionista – I was even featured on Teen Best Dressed College Students in the Nation! But the major turning point was when I realized a career in fashion was a real possibility. My mother sent me a link to FIDM’s website and I took the career quiz, and matched with the Merchandise Marketing Program. I applied three days later and within a week got my acceptance over the phone. The rest is history; I cannot imagine where I would be without FIDM! Probably working as a sales associate wondering what a buyer’s job is.

What was the most rewarding part of your FIDM experience?

The most rewarding part of my FIDM experience was publishing an article for FIDM's student magazine, MODE; making Presidents Honor Roll; presenting my final megatrend project to my peers; and making it through Textile Science – I will never forget the many hours spent with my pick glass and lighter, trying to decipher if a swatch was a protein or cellulose fiber, and if it was spun or filament. Finishing every quarter strong has been an accomplishment and I’m so thankful to have had amazing, industry professionals as teachers and mentors throughout this nine-month whirlwind.

What advice would you give to future FIDM Students?

Get involved, sit in the front of the classroom, ask questions, come prepared, and look and act professional! Seek advice from your teachers; they are your biggest resources – not only for academic success but also for career advice. Ask instructors to look at your resume. Take advantage of the library and all of FIDM’s subscription services. You have some of the best trade publications at your fingertips – make use of them! Dress appropriately and carry yourself with confidence because you never know whom you could meet at any time. Get good grades but focus on extra-circulars. Time flies by at FIDM and you don’t want to graduate with any regrets. Most likely, once you graduate you won’t be able to work for free so take as many internship opportunities as possible.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Confidence means you’re comfortable expressing what you don’t know. Credibility is built up over time but can be taken away in an instant. Be smart about which parts of your persona you show and where. But most importantly: go for it! You have nothing to lose.

How has your education at FIDM helped you in your career thus far?

My education at FIDM has allowed me to talk and write eloquently about the fashion industry. I understand what it means to be a buyer, an allocator, a wholesaler. I’ve learned there so many career paths one can choose from in this industry and my specific studies have allowed me to hone my skillsets while developing new ones. I’ve always loved writing but now I’m a sartorial writer– adding tint means adding white pigment to a color, fabrics are made of fibers, and Givenchy is pounced jhee-von-SHEE. I can walk confidently into an interview and ask the appropriate questions while staying humble and remembering there is always more to learn – but that I am an asset because I went to FIDM and can differentiate a woven from a knit, spot a fad from a megatrend, and calculate a six month plan.

What are your future career goals?  

My career goals are many because I have numerous interests within the fashion industry. My immediate goal is to work for a bi-coastal product-oriented company with which I can grow. I see my future career path as a spider web – not a ladder – because I am interested in buying, styling, trend forecasting, and writing. Ideally, I will be a stylist/personal shopper for a few select clients while I am working a corporate job. I am also going to continue with the evolution of my fashion blog ninelivesforfashion because it fulfills my creative drive and motivates me to keep-up with industry news and fashion trends.



Merchandise Marketing Grad Focuses on Brands

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Name: Bhavi Advani

Grad Date: June 2014

Major: Merchandise Marketing, A. A.

Where did you go to school before FIDM?

Dubai Modern High School, Dubai, UAE

How did you find FIDM?

I was studying Economics and Finance at the University of Toronto, and I wasn't really passionate about what I was studying. Somewhere down the line I knew I wanted a successful career in the fashion industry. I looked up fashion schools and I found FIDM on the Top 20 Fashionista list. Speaking to my international Admissions Advisor Kathy Gilbert on the phone made me feel like FIDM was the best home away from home for me.

What was the most rewarding part of the FIDM experience?

The teachers at FIDM bring the fashion industry into class and nothing could top that. Every day that I attended class, I felt like I was learning a life lesson. And all that I have learned is directly applicable to my prospective career field.

What is your current position?

VIP Celebrity Public Relations Intern, Salvatore Ferragamo

How has your education helped in your career so far?

My education at FIDM has given me an overall knowledge of how the industry functions and how to successfully survive each day. I have built my foundation at FIDM and now I am applying everything at my internship. FIDM gave me the opportunity to intern at Ferragamo and FIDM provided the education needed to prosper.

What are your career goals?

My goals are quite specific. After taking the Brand Management class with Professor Hinckley, I am determined to become a brand consultant. My two dream companies are Burberry and Disney. Understanding the brand, the target consumer, and being able to build a long-term relationship is the job of the Brand Consultant. I want to be the face of the brand.

In Dubai I would like to launch a 2-story boutique that combines fashion and entertainment. One floor would be high-end contemporary apparel and the other would be a hookah lounge for clients to relax and enjoy the ambience.



Two Business Management Students Launch Contemporary Women's Collection (Interview)


Fashion Design Graduates and current Business Management Students Johnny Townsend and Aysha Rahim recently launched a women's wear collection, Half-Brother

What is your mission for Half-Brother? We really set out to create a lifestyle more than just a clothing label. Not only do we want to create an experience for our customers that goes beyond a single garment, but we are also committed to manufacturing exclusively within the United States and predominantly within Los Angeles.

When did you start the line? Half-Brother was officially formed in March of this year. The concept for the line originated in 2010 but we have only recently been able to make this dream a reality. As of right now our collection is contemporary women's wear however we also create custom tailored menswear independently of the collection.

Where does the name come from? The name is derived from the relationship between the gods Anubis and Horus. In some accounts of Egyptian mythology the two are the sons of Osiris. The significance of their relationship lies not only in the balance of light and dark, but also in the way in which the two are connected. The relationships we form with one another may not have a basis in genetics but the modern family really is made up of friends, neighbors, colleagues, and in some way we are brothers and sisters.

Tell us about your Spring/Summer 2014 capsule collection. It is heavily influenced by our love of the 1960s and 70s Americana style. There was a lot of Fleetwood Mac playing while the collection was being designed. There is definitely an ethereal feel to the garments; the colors are derived from succulents, stone, and clay. We wanted to design clothing with a vintage feel that was wearable by contemporary women. The fabrics are all natural and we’re using a lot of silks and cottons. We want our women to feel feminine and strong.

How did you meet one another? We met at FIDM San Francisco. We both started the Fashion Design program in 2009, and graduated in 2011. We met during our first day of the program and somehow we just knew it was meant to be. After graduating from the Fashion Design program we both ended up working for technology companies, Johnny for Apple and Aysha for Intuit.

These experiences gave us a unique perspective on technology and business and reaffirmed that we needed to complete our education. Once armed with the knowledge we would be able to successfully pursue our passion for design. We had a vision for a label that we believed in deeply but we wanted to have the business acumen to back it up.



Merchandise Marketing Grad Launches Buying Career

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Name: Aiza De Leon

Grad Date: June 2014

Major: Merchandise Marketing Professional Designation

Where did you go to school before FIDM?

I graduated from Colegio San Agustin in Manila, Philippines.

How did you find FIDM?

I was searching online for programs that focus on Business and Buying. Since I already had a Bachelor's Degree, and FIDM's Professional Designation is designed for students with a prior college degree, it was suitable.

What was the best part of the FIDM experience?

It was the overall exposure to real industry experience. Whether it came in the form of classroom teachings, instructors sharing professional experiences, materials that engaged us with market and global trends, meeting industry pros, networking, or internships—I found all of these rewarding because they prepared us for our career paths.

What is your current position?

Assistant Buyer for Burlington Coat Factory

What are your career goals?

I want to become a successful Buyer. I would also love to have my own organization someday in the Philippines.



FIDM Graduates Featured in L.A. Blogger Roundup on Racked LA


Merchandise Marketing Graduate Chriselle Lim of The Chriselle Factor (pictured, left) and Apparel Industry Management Alumna Karla Deras of Karla's Closet (pictured, right) were both featured in a L.A. blogger fashion roundup on Racked LA

Chriselle is wearing a Lovers + Friends top, a Nasty Gal skirt, Proenza Schouler shoes, a Judith Leibier clutch, and House of Harlow sunglasses. Karla is wearing Armani trousers, a Maison Martin Margiela belt, an American Apparel bodysuit, and Aquazzura shoes.



DEBUT Grad Tylor Purcell Profiled in Hometown Newspaper


Advanced Fashion Design Graduate Tylor Purcell, who showed his black, white, and yellow collection of men's and women's wear at DEBUT in March, is profiled in the Daily Miner, his hometown paper.

"The 2011 graduate of Kingman High School will begin a six-month paid internship June 10 with Los Angeles-based GUESS, which makes jeans, clothing and accessories for men and women. He will serve as an assistant to a designer, then will be hired on full-time to sketch clothing designs for young people.

'I had nine months to create 12 different looks in clothing for men and women," said Purcell, 21, about the fashion show. "It was very hard but it was a lot of fun. I made everything by myself, on top of attending my classes. It was overwhelming, but I learned a lot about my work ethic and myself. I'm determined and stubborn, and this is something I love to do.'"



Meet the Founders of Juicy Couture at FIDM! RSVP for "The Glitter Plan" Book Signing & Reception


Join FIDM for a private affair with the world renowned founders of Juicy Couture on Friday, June 27 at FIDM Los Angeles!

Fashion icons, best friends and business partners, FIDM Alumna Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor transformed a small entrepreneurial project into a global fashion empire with Juicy Couture. Join FIDM for an intimate Q&A with the duo in a panel-style discussion followed by a book-signing of their new tome, The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture For $200 And Turned It Into A Global Brand.


Friday, June 27

4:30 p.m.: Check-in
5:00 p.m.:  Q&A begins
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.:  Reception

FIDM Los Angeles,
919 S. Grand Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90015

RSVP is required and space is limited.

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Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor began with $200, in a one-bedroom Hollywood apartment, with the vision of comfortable, fitted, attractive t-shirts and one rule: whatever they did, they both had to like it. Juicy evolved into a global phenomenon, defining a new genre of “California Cool” contemporary clothing, and the epitome of casual luxury. Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor put LA style at the forefront of the international fashion scene. Although the duo has since parted ways with Juicy, they have launched a new collection of edgy, feminine clothing Pam & Gela, which debuted in March 2014.

Take part in this special event and conversation with Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor moderated by celebrated fashion journalist Booth Moore, followed by a book-signing of The Glitter Plan, described as “memoir, part manifesto, part how-to, part fashion industry guide, and 100% Juicy.” 




Jewelry Designer and FIDM Grad Renata Ortega Visits Premiere Product Development Group

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Renata Ortega, FIDM International Manufacturing & Product Development Grad (IMPD) and current student in the Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree program, visited the Los Angeles campus today as a guest speaker for the Premiere Product Development Group, an elite group of FIDM Students with access to special guest speakers.

Just three weeks ago, the entrepreneur launched her own jewelry line, Renikins, and she's already selling out. Her statement necklaces retail for only $40 and have been featured on fashion blogs and Instagram, which has helped make her an overnight success. Renata has been collaborating with Lora Arellano, Rihanna's former makeup artist who is now heading up Melt Cosmetics with Dana Bomar.

The young designer reinforced to the students the importance of interning and getting industry experience. She told them that as a student in the Product Development program, she herself interned at Halston and also worked as a makeup artist at MAC. "I'm a big believer that you need to work, and get out there in the industry," she said. "In the industry, it's about who you know."

While she was at MAC, she became interested in the IMPD program. She applied, got accepted, and spent the next nine months in the program working with FIDM industry partner Bebe on a capsule collection. She traveled to Europe and China for trend research, sourcing, and visiting denim mills. Reneta said the experience she gained from the program was invaluable. "The business, the sourcing, the materials, the tech packs—it's so important. If your tech pack is done correctly, fewer samples are needed," which she explained is a favorable/cost-cutting outcome.

Working with Bebe as an industry partner mirrored what it's like in the real world. Renata said Bebe gave constructive criticism and harsh, honest feedback. She had to re-work the color palette for Bebe three times before it met with their approval. "That's how the fashion industry is. It's not sugar-coated."

While an IMPD student, Renata was hired as an Assistant Designer at the fashion label, Sanctuary. She worked there for about a year, gaining valuable well-rounded fashion experience. When she graduated from the IMPD program, she took an Associate Tech Design position with Ella Moss where she learned about garment construction—how to work with fabric in terms of cutting and laying down a pattern. "I suggest you pay attention in your FIDM classes," she advised. "You will use those skills."

She stayed on at Ella Moss for a year and half before she made the decision to focus full-time on her jewelry line, Renikins. Her plan is to go into handbags next, and finally apparel. Renata Ortega is just getting started.

Shop her jewelry on

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MPD Grad Scores Job at Sue Wong After Graduating in March (Interview)


Name: Alexis Rivera

Degree: Merchandise Product Development

Job Title: Product Development Assistant

Company: Sue Wong

What are some of your job responsibilities? I am responsible for various tasks dealing with the revised samples. I make sure to keep up communication with overseas factories in order to facilitate the production of our prototype samples, keep track of the status of each sample, assemble tech packs, as well as participate in the sample revision process with Sue. I also will have the opportunity to help organize catalog photo shoots and fashion events to preview upcoming lines.

How does it feel to have a job so soon after graduation? It is the best feeling and the first step to chasing my dreams. I did a few internships throughout school so I already had some exposure to the fashion world. As soon as I got out of school I wanted to hit the ground running and start my career in the fashion industry.

How did FIDM help prepare you for this job? I actually found the posting for this job on the Career Network through the FIDM Portal. Our Career Center is extremely helpful throughout the job hunt, and I urge all current students and alums to take advantage of these services. The two years I spent at FIDM studying Merchandise Product Development definitely had me very well prepared for this job. I love my major because I have so many directions I can go into with my degree. FIDM gives you everything you need in order to be successful; you really get as much out of it as you put into it.



Recent IMPD Alumna Is Assistant Designer at Sovereign Code


International Manufacturing & Product Development Alumna Brodie Silver, who graduated from FIDM in March, is the Assistant Designer at Sovereign Code, a men's and kids line based in Los Angeles and sold at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and Zappos, among others. "Before I found this job, Kevin Keele in the Career Center was such a great help with my resume; he also gave me great advice and insight on different types of companies, which really helped me in my job search process," she explains. 

"I was in the fashion industry for roughly seven years before attending FIDM, and worked in all aspects, most of which I taught myself on the job. I was constantly confronted with people saying, 'Well, if you had gone to school for this, you would know.' So I did just that! FIDM not only prepared me for the fashion industry, but it also reinforced the fact that this was the industry I needed to be in."



Nordstrom Product Group Creative Director & FIDM Grad Melanie Owen Visits FIDM

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FIDM Grad and Nordstrom Product Group Creative Director, Melanie Owen, visited FIDM today to chat with students about the secrets to her success in the fashion industry and the wonderful internship opportunities currently available at Nordstrom.

In the twenty years since she graduated from FIDM with a degree in Merchandise Marketing and an emphasis in Product Development, Melanie has been a Senior Design Director at Urban Outfitters and VP of Design at Roxy. She's held positions at Justice and Hollister. Part of her career was spent in the home market when she worked for PBTeen and Pottery Barn Kids. She's been at Nordstrom since July of last year and she loves it.

"When I look back at my career and what I did at FIDM, I'm so thankful for what I did."

She recommended that the students start working in the industry while they're still in school. "I encourage you to soak it all up. Learn everything!"

One student asked how to break into the industry if they've never had a job in fashion, and she suggested they get their foot in the door and not to worry too much about starting at the bottom—strategic moves will get you where you want to go. Education and experience are vital, however. She said she would not hire someone for a design position if they did not have design on their resume.

"Small companies are a great place to start because of all the different hats you wear." Her first real job was at Billabong where she was making $10 an hour as a patternmaker. From there she moved over into design.

At Nordstrom, Melanie works in the Product Development Group, a $1 billion department. She said they have 53 different internal brands that compete with top fashion labels such as Rag & Bone, Chloe, and Celine. Their yoga label, Zella, is a $100 million brand that competes with the likes of Lulu Lemon.

The Seattle-based department store is investing $1 billion in technology. Their goal is to be as much of an online store as a brick and mortar. In fact, they recently acquired the flash sales site Hautelook. They are a $12 billion company, and their goal is to be a $20 billion company by 2020. Expanding their national presence, Nordstrom is planning to open their first full-line department store in New York City in 2018.

Nordstrom is currently accepting applications to take on interns in December 2014. She encouraged each and every student to apply, saying Nordstrom would love to have them.



Trendwatch: Monogramming Shoes


Personalizing your shoes is not a new concept. Nike started Nike ID, and many were able to design their own shoes, and include their name or personal logo.

Monogramming has been a growing trend in accessories. You can have your initials in jewelery, handbags, and various small leather goods.

A recent trend I've seen is monogramming shoes. Hot shoe brand, Ancient Greek Sandals (which, by the way, you must check out) has had monogramming events at trunks shows. I have to say, I'm quite excited! It's very classy, minimal, and their is something special about having your initials on a product.

I hope they come out to L.A. soon!

Photo Source: Instagram

FIDM Alumna Nalini Arora is an international footwear and accessory design consultant. Her specialty lies in women's fashion footwear, accessories, and kids shoes.  




FIDM Style Project: Fashion Blogger and FIDM Grad Nikki Minton Goes Bananas for Stylist Rachel Zoe


Images: (Left) Fashion blogger Nikki Minton of My Style Diaries and fashion stylist, author and television personality, Rachel Zoe. 

In this month’s FIDM Style Project series, we reached out to some of our favorite bloggers to ask “If you could have dinner with any fashion icon, dead or alive, who would it be and why?” This is what Nikki Minton of My Style Diaries had to say...

“If I could have dinner with any fashion icon, I think I’d go for the obvious and say Rachel Zoe.  She really has conquered so many aspects of the fashion industry, from styling celebrities and editorial shoots to creating (and killing it!) with her own fashion line. Her personal style is so on point, and maybe, just maybe, after dinner, she’d give me a glimpse into her fabulous closet. Bananas.”

More about Nikki

Minton is a graduate of FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and has been dazzling us with her fashion expertise ever since. She views her blog, My Style Diaries, as an online resource for women everywhere who want to look their best and believes personal stylists should be available to everyone and not just celebrities.

About FIDM Style Project

FIDM Style Project is an online editorial collaboration series between the online design community and FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Are you interested in participating in the next FIDM Style Project series? Get in touch with us here

Images courtesy of My Style Diaries and LA Confidential



FIDM Alumni Success Story: KAOHS Swimwear


FIDM Majors: 

Ali Hoffmann - Visual Communications

Tess Hamilton - Merchandise Marketing 

Did you meet at FIDM or were you friends prior?

Tess: We met at FIDM 
How has FIDM helped you prepare for starting your own business?

Ali: As a V Comm major Entrepreneurship for Visual Communications really helped Kaohs get off the ground. Ms. Darlene Blanchard (Ms. D) was incredibly supportive and helped me overcome many of the fears related to starting a business, especially at such a young age. She continues to encourage us and support everything we do. I also tend to refer back to a lot of the marketing classes I had with Ms. Pat Turner, her knowledge about the industry is priceless. 
Describe your experience creating your own brand.

Tess: We started with sketches on notebook paper and asked a lot of questions. We also made some mistakes, but they made us better. It’s stressful but worth every minute of it.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments thus far?

Ali: I think we are really proud of hitting our goals: break even point, web sales, wholesale sales, and being asked to be a part of Mercedes Benz Miami Beach Swim week, this upcoming July. 
Share the story of how your designs got in the hands of the Jenner/Kardashian Family. Ali: We have a good friend, who is one of Kim’s best friends. When Kim saw the bikinis she was instantly supportive as was the whole family. Having the Kardashians and Jenners as fans, has helped grow our business and get us some great press online as well as US Weekly, In Touch, Life & Style, etc. 
Where would you like the brand to continue to press forward? What is the ultimate goal for the brand?

Tess: We want to continue to grow add larger swim collections, as well as brand into ready to wear pieces. We would love to get into kid's swim, men’s board shorts and even surfboards. Only time will tell.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you both?

Ali: Being an entrepreneur is both scary and exciting. We are both really excited about growing as a company, as we continue to grow, we will get to give back and share our experiences and knowledge with many.
Was Kaohs (or creating a brand of the like) always in your career plans or did this passion evolve while at FIDM?

Tess: We both knew we wanted to work for ourselves, we just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. 
What would you say is the most important part about networking?

Tess: Constantly networking is important because you never know whom you will meet. It’s important to us to expose Kaohs and ourselves to as many environments as possible. We love networking and working with different bloggers and companies worldwide. 



Photos courtesy of Mariya Dondonyan



New Interview With FIDM Alumna and RtA Denim Product Development Manager Rahnel Alvarado


FIDM Grad and RtA Denim Product Development Manager, Rahnel Alvarado visited FIDM last week to speak with the students in the Merchandise Product Development program. We caught up with her to find out more about her career goals and how her education at FIDM has set her apart.

Name: Rahnel Alvarado

Company/Job Title: RtA Denim/Product Development and Pre-Production

Tell us a little about yourself: I am a person who loves to be constantly challenged and learn new things every day.

Tell us about your position at RtA: It is a smaller company, so no job is too small. I am involved in design, development, and also take care of pre-production. We have fittings weekly, test new fabrics for washes, and create tech packs.

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? I honestly can say the things learned at FIDM give knowledge about how it is to work in the industry. The teachers at FIDM give honest and current feedback as to what it is like in the industry. The intense workload and the challenging environment makes it an easier transition into the work force.

How did you find out about FIDM? I had a dream of going to FIDM since I was in high school, but the dream was unattainable at the time. I came back for the dream once I completed my 4-year degree and worked for a couple of years.

How did you decide on your major? I wanted to learn a little about everything in the fashion world and least understand how all the elements work together. Product development seemed to marry this idea perfectly.

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? All textile classes, pre-production, sourcing, brand portfolio, and of course Illustrator and Photoshop.

Any advice for current FIDM Students? Work hard; learn everything you can; and be confident in your abilities.

What is your biggest goal right now? I want to eventually have my own line. The ultimate goal—to be the “boss.”

Anything else you’d like to share? At FIDM you will get back exactly the effort and energy you decide to put into the adventure!



Senior Product Development Manager for 3 Dee International Genevieve Davis Returns To Alma Mater To Review Student Portfolios and Conduct Mock Interviews

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Genevieve Davis, Senior Product Manager for 3 Dee International, graduated with a Merchandise Product Development degree from FIDM six years ago and returned to her alma mater today to grade students on their brand midterm in the MPDV 2850 Brand Portfolio Development class.

The footwear developer reviewed and graded the students' portfolios, and conducted one-on-one mock interviews with half of the students in the class. Next week, FIDM Grad Chris Tsuyuki from WGSN will do the same for the second half of the class.

Before Genevieve started reviewing portfolios and conducting mock interviews, she chatted with the small class of sixteen students about her path to success as a footwear product developer. She explained that she started her career at Rock and Republic when representatives from the fashion company took notice of her work at Portfolio Day on campus. They liked what they saw so they contacted her and hired her as a pre-production assistant. After Rock and Republic, Genevieve landed a job at a footwear company.

The FIDM Grad is now the Senior Product Manager of 3 Dee International, traveling to China four times a year for two week at a time, London two times a year for market research and trend spotting, and New York three times a year. She has designed shoes for clients including American Rag, Dune London, Steve Madden, Madden Girl, Adam Tucker, E.S. Originals, Sugar, Betsey Johnson, and Forever 21.

Genevieve now has three people who report directly to her. When asked what sets a portfolio apart from the rest, she said it's about presenting clean, neat work. She suggested making the images pop, and use shadows and gradients where appropriate. As far as new hires, she looks for job candidates who are motivated, driven, and hungry to make something happen.

She assured the students the Merchandise Product Development is a great major. "I use what I learned at FIDM every day of my life."

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Genevieve Davis conducting a mock interview with a PD student



Alumna Hannah Skvarla is Co-Founder of The Little Market With Lauren Conrad (Interview)


Name: Hannah Skvarla

Job: Co-Founder, The Little Market

FIDM Degree: Merchandise Marketing

What led you and Lauren to start The Little Market? Lauren and I met while studying at FIDM. We began traveling together and visited Bali, El Salvador, Tanzania, and Uganda. On each trip we would visit local markets and meet hardworking women artisans who were struggling to support themselves. We wanted to figure out a way to give these women access to a bigger market. We asked experts in International Development about the most sustainable way to set up an online store to support artisans from around the world. We partnered with non-profit Global Goods Partners in New York, to identify and work with artisans that shared our fair trade values.

How did you get involved with Human Rights Watch and other charity orgs? Social justice has always been a very important part of my life. My family has always emphasized the importance of giving back through volunteering with organizations, learning about rights issues, and directly serving those in need. After completing my B.A. in Public Relations at Chapman University, I interned at Human Rights Watch's New York office. I fell in love with the commitment of HRW's 400 journalists, researchers, and attorneys to providing a voice for those facing a host of issues -- women's rights, children's rights, refugee rights, LGBT rights, disability rights, health rights, etc. -- right here at home and all around the world.

What has been the most rewarding part of being in this type of business? The Little Market is incredibly rewarding. I love the opportunity to introduce shoppers to beautiful handmade products and raise awareness for fair trade and ethical purchasing. Positive feedback from the artisans keeps us motivated and inspired. We love hearing about how the income generated from the sales of our items empowers our artisan partners.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? The Merchandise Marketing major gave me the ability to understand the target market, to develop a brand concept, and to communicate a business strategy to the participants in the process, all using technology to bring a message of making a difference to a global marketplace.



MPD Alumna Taking Over Nicole's Showroom at LA Kids Market


After 40 years at the California Market Center, Nicole's Showroom founder Nicole Schmidt has said farewell. Merchandise Product Development Alumna Tiffany Stricklett, who has served as a sales rep at the showroom for over seven years, will take over. "I have always wanted to run my own showroom," says Tiffany. "I learned so much from Nicole and cannot wait to bring a new, fresh vibe to the kid's industry." Nicole's represents the kids lines Ashley Anne Accessories, Bebemonde, Cape Clogs, Cupcakes & Pastries, Dimity Bourke, Great Pretenders, Lil Darlings, Little Wings, Paper Wings, RaspberryPlum, and Seam.

Read more on the LA Kids Market Blog



FIDM Grad Rahnel Alvarado from Premium Denim Label RTA is Guest Speaker for Premier Product Development Group

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FIDM Grad and Product Development Manager at RTA Denim, Rahnel Alvarado visited the Los Angeles campus today as a guest speaker for the Premiere Product Development Group, an elite group of FIDM Students with access to special guest speakers.

Starting off her chat, she gave the students excellent advice. "Utilize your instructors," she said. "They will help you throughout your entire career." She also added, "Never burn any bridges. This is industry is really small." 

Rahnel graduated from FIDM in Spring 2011 with a Professional Designation degree in the Merchandise Product Development program. While a student, she worked as a manager of hotels and apartment buildings. Many of her residents were in the entertainment and fashion industries, and one of them told her about a position as an executive administration assistant at Citizens of Humanity. When she graduate, she applied, got the job, and worked there for about six months before a position in product development opened up at Goldsign.

Rahnel became Adriano Goldschmeid's right hand and gained invaluable experience, gleaning incredible knowledge from him, the "godfather of denim." She even learned about the intricate subtleties of working with leather.

After two years of working at Goldsign and Citizens of Humanity, an opportunity at a new premium denim label presented itself to Rahnel. RTA hired her as their Product Development Manager in January of this year.

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At RTA, Rahnel does everything from making fabric selections to getting samples made to working with the laundry house on washes and treatment such as distressing, fades, and wax. On a daily basis, she works with designers, patternmakers, and cuttters. She creates the line sheets, produces the photo shoots, and is responsible for tech pack and cost sheets.

When it comes to hiring, Rahnel was asked what makes a job candidate stand out from the rest. She simply said, "The key is confidence."

At the end of her talk, students lined up for one-on-one time with her. One student, who is about to enter the job market, asked for feedback on her portfolio, and Rahnel graciously provided expert tips.



Celebrity Fashion Designer Ina Soltani Introduces 'Second Skin' Collection


Fashion Design Alumna Ina Soltani has become a go-to designer for celebrities such as Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Kerry Washington, and Jennifer Lopez, among others. Her latest 'Second Skin' collection for fall 2014 is filled with bold and dramatic pieces such as leather cigarette pants, motorcycle jackets, and snakeskin cut out dresses. 

Ina appeared on Elle Fashion Director Joe Zee's TV show All On The Line where he mentored the L.A.-based designer. 

See more of the fall collection at Apparel News and Women's Wear Daily



Shoe Design: Outsole Plates Need Designing Too!


For a shoe designer, there are many aspects to design when it comes to footwear: the upper, the heel, the outsole, the insole (depending on the type of shoe), hardware, and the outsole plate.

The outsole plate is the part of the shoe that strikes the ground. One can say, it's hitting the ground and, "who cares? ", but I think "why not?" When it's on the selling floor, it's definitely being looked at and it's a great design detail.  It’s important to put creativity into all aspects of a design.

You can draw inspiration from furniture, fashion, architecture, or anything that is inspiring.  There are so many possibilities. Above is a board of an outsole design inspired by marble and marble-like textures.  Of course there are many other technical aspects to consider such as is the design recessed, raised, how deep or how much raised, additional textures, etc. For now, play with creating fun outsoles, and you will learn over time the technical aspects.

For more outsole inspiration you can go here.

Do you feel it’s important to design every little detail out? Or do you think, it doesn't matter and no one will see it? 

FIDM Alumna Nalini Arora is an international footwear and accessory design consultant. Her specialty lies in women's fashion footwear, accessories, and kids shoes.  



Beauty Grad Is Packaging/Product Developer Coordinator at Stila Cosmetics


As the new Packaging/Product Developer Coordinator for Stila Cosmetics, Christine San Antonio does everything from speaking to vendors about projects and assisting her managers to giving creative input on packaging and products. "I feel that FIDM prepared me for what to expect in the beauty industry," the Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing Graduate explains. "FIDM also helped me understand my interest and really see what I wanted to do in my career and future."



Vis Comm Grad Is Celebrity Stylist for Actors and Athletes (Interview)


Name: Victor Michel

FIDM Degree: Visual Communications

Tell us about your celebrity styling career. I can say it has been nothing but a dream come true. In less then a year, I have worked with magazines such as GQ and Rolling Out. I landed my first cover with Rolling Out as well as a four page spread for my styling of actor Brian White. It’s been a pleasure to have styled Claudia Lee (Actress), Malcom Smith (Super Bowl MVP), Tahj Mowry (Actor), Reggie Bullock (Los Angeles Clippers), Natalie Alyn Lind (Actress), Jahlil Okafor (National Player of the Year), and Kevin Durant (NBA MVP).

How has FIDM helped you succeed? FIDM is not just a higher learning institution; it prepares you for not only a job, but a career. Attending FIDM, I learned many lessons I now use in my professional career, such as time management, patience, punctuality, presentation, and being fashion savvy. Most importantly, FIDM taught me the importance of paying attention to detail, which is reflected in my work. The fashion industry is perhaps one of the most competitive fields you can get into, much like attending FIDM.

Attending FIDM made me think outside the box to compete with very talented students. Now being a fashion stylist I find myself day in and day out challenging myself to find new ideas, concepts, and trends to stand out from everyone else. Week after week, course after course you are learning from professors who work in the fashion industry and know firsthand what it takes to land big opportunities.

We hear you are also working with the men's label MyVice. I became involved with MyVice through a former teammate who I became close with while playing professional basketball. I am a junior designer at MyVice and I help with the concepts and development of new product. I also play a large role in building our celebrity relationships and gifting our product to celebrities. 



Business Management Student Launches Fitness Website (Interview)


Merchandise Marketing Graduate Ida-Sofia Koivuniemi, who was a DECA high school student, is currently purusing her Business Management Bachelor of Science degree at FIDM. 

What led you to start Fit SidekickI was inspired to start Fit Sidekick because when I started my own fitness journey I found myself longing for a friend to be there for me through this time in my life. I wanted someone who would come to fitness classes with me and someone to share my results with. I want to be that fitness friend for people because going through this alone can be tough! It also helps to hold you accountable for reaching your goals and helps you get in shape faster. If my website can motivate at least a few people to start living an active lifestyle, I will feel as if I have done something right.

How are you enjoying the Business Management program? I like the B.S. program a lot. I am doing it fully online which gives me more time to focus on my job at Flywheel Sports (an indoor cycling studio) and my website. The classes are very comprehensive and I'm learning a lot of new stuff that I was not taught in the A.A. program.

What are your career goals? After graduation I hope to find an entry level marketing position, or even get a promotion within the Flywheel community. I hope to somehow blend my love for fitness and marketing and create a job out of it. Of course, I hope my website becomes successful as well and will find me job opportunities.



BCBG Founder Max Azria Celebrates 25 Years in L.A.

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"Los Angeles has become the No. 4  city in the world for fashion, behind New York, Paris, and London,"  BCBG founder Max Azria told the LA Times in this weekend's Image section. Azria and his wife, FIDM Grad and BCBGMAXAZRIA and Herve Leger Chief Creative Officer Lubov Azria, are celebrating the company's 25th anniversary in Los Angeles. An exhibition of Azria's work is open at company headquarters in Vernon through May 18.



Alumni Spotlight: Charlee Escobar


Name: Charlee Escobar

Major: Merchandise Marketing A.A. Degree 

Job: Production Assistant / Sample Coordinator at Rocket Dog Brands, Inc.

1. What made you want to study Merchandise Marketing at FIDM?

I wanted to study Merchandise Marketing because I had a love for working with numbers, but I also wanted to be in a creative environment. I thought that being a buyer would be a great marriage between the two and I still believe so, but I started to find myself drifting towards being a planner or working in allocations. Planners work a lot more in Excel with pricing and various spreadsheets. I find my peace in Excel; it’s just relaxing to me.

2. What was the most valuable piece of information you learned during your education at FIDM?

There are two valuable pieces of information I learned at FIDM. One: this is a small industry. Everyone knows everyone! If you can break into this small circle and prove yourself, the places you can go are infinite.

Two: INTERN! All of my teachers preached about internships. I wish I listened when they gave me this advice, it definitely would have made the hunt a lot easier to find a job after graduating because companies look for that entry level experience. It really helps you get started, it gets your foot in the door.

3. What were some of the challenges you faced as a student?

While I was a student I also worked full-time while planning my wedding, so one of the largest challenges was finding time to enjoy my personal life while being successful both at work and school. Learning to prioritize definitely helped me with this challenge. I also completed two years of schooling at my Community College back home, which was in semesters so switching to quarters was a challenge also. You definitely need to stay on top of all of your work or you could end up being extremely behind because quarters fly by much faster. There are also a lot of projects that last throughout the whole quarter, so if I fell behind one week it would sometimes cause a ripple effect.

4.What are some of your proudest FIDM accomplishments?

During my first quarter one of my teachers asked for my essay to use as an example for the following quarter. For me it was a proud moment because I’ve always excelled in Math and Science but never in English. Another accomplishment was putting together my portfolio. It was rewarding to see all of my hard work over the course of this program in one place. It brought back a lot of great memories, and definitely made all of the hard work worth it.

5. Now that you have graduated and earned your degree, where do you work/what do you do?

After graduating from FIDM, I was hired at Rocket Dog Brands, Inc. AKA the most amazing company to work for. I am now their new production assistant / sample coordinator. I focus mainly on sales samples that come in from our factories and stay in communication with the factories to ensure that our samples are going to arrive on time.

When I was hired, I expressed my interest in being a planner, so I have also had the opportunity to run a couple of our spreadsheets each week. Just a little more about my job duties – I enter factory orders, generate GTIN and UPCs, follow up with the designers regarding production spec, manage special make up requests from customers, and I also maintain our showroom display. We are a smaller corporate office so I have had the opportunity to do a lot of various projects around the office.

6. Has your education at FIDM helped prepare you for the work you are doing?

I do believe that my education at FIDM has helped me prepare for the work I am doing. Since I did not intern, FIDM is really the reason why I was hired. FIDM is fast paced, which is also similar to this industry.

Photo Courtesy of Mariya Dondonyan




Graphic Design Grad Gives Back to Organizations He's Passionate About


Graphic Design Graduate Michael Nguyen has volunteered countless hours for organizations such as the Orange County German Shepherd Rescue, YouTube artist Tiffany Alvord, and the Asian Pacific Festival. "I feel so lucky to have been given an amazing education at FIDM and want to share my talents with those in need, he says.

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Visit Michael's Facebook Page to learn more about his work. 

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Merchandise Product Development Grad Annie Hsu Lands at Jolt

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When the Denim Study Tour, led by Department Chair Eva Gilbert (left), visited Kellwood headquarters this spring, we ran into 2012 FIDM Grad Annie Hsu. She updated us on her career.

What is your job?

I am Sales Operations Assistant at Jolt. I assist the Head of Sales on all private label jobs for Jolt,  following projects from beginning to end. This allows me to work with various departments: Design, Technical Design, Sales, Customer Service, Shipping, etc. Every day there are problems to solve and I work with numbers a lot.

Did you use the Career Center?

Yes, Kevin in the Career Center connected me with Jolt for an internship in Production which led to my current position.

What was your major?

I got a Professional Designation in Merchandise Product Development.

Where did you go to school before FIDM?

I earned a B.S. in Managerial Economics from U.C. Davis.

Any tips for current FIDM Students?

Utilize all the resources around you, especially the Career Center. You never know who you will meet and where your next opportunity might be.



Beauty Grad Is Product and Package Development Associate at Jouer Cosmetics


Name: Kia Ragland

Degree: Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing and Business Management

Job Title/Company: Product and Package Development Associate at Jouer Cosmetics

Responsibilities: Some of my responsibilities include assisting the PD Director with R&D of new product and package development, project managing products from concept to market, assisting quality control, initiating necessary product testing, requesting all documents in order to reach regulatory standards, and managing archives. 

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FIDM truly helped me become the driven, independent, and great multitasker that I am today. The group projects really taught me how to be a team player, but also have the ability to take the leadership role. Having such a short turnaround on so many projects gave me the experience needed to handle almost anything that comes my way. FIDM definitely taught me how to be a problem solver that can take action and proceed with multiple solutions until the task is complete.

What are you most excited about in your new position and why? I am excited to take on more responsibilities and really assist in the growth of Jouer Cosmetics being that it’s still such a young brand. I really admire the vision of the brand and the level of quality that goes into every product.



Recent VisComm Grad Is Public Relations Coordinator at BCBGMAXAZRIA


Recent graduate Lindsey Spink, who received her degree in Visual Communications in March, is currently the Public Relations Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the VP of Global Public Relations at BCBGMAXAZRIA. "My day-to-day responsibilities include preparing studio loans and pulls, creating press clippings, reviewing BCBG editorials, assisting the VP of Global Public Relations, meeting with press, preparing for and assisting with special events, communicating with editors, and being in charge of public relations department budgeting," she explains.

"FIDM helped prepare me for my career by teaching me the following skills: writing press releases, creating media kits, connecting with industry professionals, the entire process of coordinating special events, budgeting, and how to communicate with press." 



BCBGMaxAzriaGroup Hosts Retrospective Celebrating 25-Year History


BCBGMaxAzriaGroup turned part of its Vernon, California warehouse into an exhibit space on April 29, for a retrospective of the company's 25 year history designing a mix of "Paris chic with L.A. cool." On display were Max Azria Atelier red carpet dresses, Herve Leger bandage dresses, youthful styles from BCBGeneration, and pieces from BCBGMaxAzria Runway. 

Lubov Azria, the fashion house's creative director, is a graduate of FIDM. 

Read more coverage of the exhibit in Apparel News

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