MPD Alumna Founds Real Natural Beauty Skin Care and Cosmetic Line (Interview)


Name: Denise Zeigler

Major: Merchandise Product Development

Company: Real Natural Beauty


Tell us about your business. Real Natural Beauty is a natural skin care and mineral cosmetic line made for the multicultural woman's unique beauty. Our natural skincare is made with pure herbal extracts, vitamins, and minerals to truly deliver on performance and results. While our mineral cosmetics is made in a wide color range, triple-milled to be lightweight, long lasting, true to color, and does not look chalky or dull on our various skin tones. 

Did you have a hard time over the years finding a line that worked for you? I practically lived in Sephora, Ulta, and Nordstrom. I have literally tried every product and was still unsatisfied. I founded Real Natural Beauty because I was tired of settling for products that did not deliver on results, made with quality ingredients, and in a wide color range. I knew I was on to something when other customers in the stores and friends and family were having the same disappointments that I was experiencing.

Are you exclusively sold online? At the moment yes... but not for long! While we may not have a store front, we plan to be in unique spaces such as boutiques, hair salons, and other retail spaces that share our same passion while offering a unique flair. I love that my business is mobile and allows me to be in various spaces, do private events, makeup artistry, and more!

How did FIDM help prepare you for this career? Every course and faculty member opened my eyes and allowed me to understand the retail, fashion, and beauty industry. The classes that stood out for me were Brand Imaging and Marketing courses. Understanding that you are always marketing yourself, how to build a brand, and understanding your target market are critical in this industry. Be a sponge and learn everything.



FIDM Alumna Living and Working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Interview)


Apparel Industry Management, Advanced Fashion Design, and Business Management Graduate Ariana DaSilva is working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as a Senior Fashion Trainer at Sharaf Retail Group, which represents brands such as Agent Provacateur, Forever 21, and Hello Kitty Beauty Spa. 

What is your current job title/responsibilities? As a Sr. Fashion Trainer, I currently develop, revise, improve, and maintain all of the training programs and materials alongside managing newly acquired luxury retail stores in Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, Singapore, and Malaysia. I also monitor and report on the progress of trainees, meet with visual merchandising, marketing, and product development to identify and recommend training requirements and conduct training needs analysis as well as evaluating training effectiveness. I am involved in induction, luxury/high-end customer service, brand/product knowledge, upsetting/cross selling, and style training programs.

What led you to living and working in Dubai? Both for personal and professional reasons, I wanted to change my life, and Dubai kept on popping up in my life. From random job offers in my email, to meeting people who live or work in Dubai, I knew I had to go for it. From the time I started at FIDM, I would always talk about how I wanted to live and work abroad, I just wasn’t sure where, or how it would happen. After completing my BS in Business Management at FIDM, I knew I had to pursue my dreams. No risk, no reward.

Have you lived in a  foreign country prior to now? I have never lived or worked in a foreign country, but have always been drawn to people who travel for work. I always knew that it was something that I wanted to do. I don’t like to stay in one place, or do the same thing every single day.

How did FIDM help prepare your for your career? What didn’t FIDM do is the question. The faculty at FIDM have had a huge influence on my life and are an integral part of my present success. I connected with a lot of people at FIDM. In fact, they encouraged me to get my A.A. in Apparel Industry Management, A.A. in Fashion Design, and B.S. in Business Management. FIDM was and still is my family. They cared about me when I had no support and felt alone and helpless.

Those who made a huge impact on my life know who they are, I could not have made it without them. My degrees have given me sound knowledge and the confidence to go out there in the world and use my talent. Never once was I turned away when I needed help, support or encouragement, and I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.

Any advice you would like to give to FIDM students post graduation? When I was at FIDM, I spoke every quarter to the new incoming college students during the SUCCESS Seminar. I shared with them my own personal tips and tricks on how to survive throughout their college career. I immediately found myself in the position of a role model, and this enhanced my desire to improve and become better, despite my life situation. It’s easy to let life get in the way and bring you down. But what happens after you graduate? My advice: never give up.

Focus on what you love and don’t settle for less. If you want to move, move. If you want to design, design. Do what moves you, do what you are passionate about, and you will be able to move mountains. Don’t ever stop learning, and making yourself better. Evolve and be aware of what’s happening around you. You make the magic happen around you. You make your own reality, and you must believe in your own power.



FIDM Alumna and Monique Lhuillier Senior Fit Technician Paige Rangel Visits FIDM

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Monique Lhuillier Senior Fit Technician and FIDM Grad Paige Rangel visited the Los Angeles campus recently as a guest speaker for the Premiere Product Development Group, an elite group of FIDM Students with access to special guest speakers.

With a B.A. degree in Communications and Business from Arizona State, Paige Rangel came to FIDM to pursue the Professional Designation degree in Merchandise Product Development. She worked in retail during the one-year program at FIDM, telling the students that she didn't have time for an internship but she wishes she did. She encouraged all of them to do an internship if they can.

When she graduated, she started looking for work and landed her first job as a design assistant at the U.S. Apparel Group, a company that specializes in licensed apparel. It was there where she realized she really enjoyed technical design. She loved writing the fit comments. In fact, a fit model informed her about a job opportunity at Robert Rodriguez. Paige inquired about the position and was hired as their technical designer.

Soon thereafter, Robert Rodriguez was acquired by The Jones Group, and Paige was promoted to managing the work of four technical designers. She found that she was moving away from doing fit comments, and moving more in the direction of management. She worked there for four years, and she said she loved it, but once Jones bought them the environment shifted into more of corporate atmosphere, and she found that it wasn't for her anymore.

Through the Apparel News, Paige found out about an opportunity at Monique Lhuillier. She submitted her resume, interviewed, and was hired. She's been working there now for two years and loves it.

When asked what she looks for in technical design new hire, she joked and said, "Someone who does NOT want to be a designer," making the point that technical design is not about creative design but about coming up with creative solutions. She said she looks for problem solvers and motivated candidates.

Monique Lhuillier is a small company located in downtown Los Angeles. It's only herself, an assistant, and six pattern makers. There is no factory in China. Paige said they make everything downtown. 

She explained to the students that once the design team is finished with a line, they walk the runway with it or do a presentation. The line comes back to the pre-production team. All photos and notes are taken, then the tech packs are then set up. Once that's finished, then they start on patterns. Paige uses the pattern and creates the garment in muslin first. She tries to keep each garment to three fittings, with an objective of getting a perfect sew by sample.

Paige goes to every single fitting and all the production meetings. "I babysit these samples until they're perfect," she said.

Finally, Paige presents the final sew by sample to Monique Lhuillier.

The students flooded Paige with questions about the industry and the challenges and rewarding parts of her career. The meeting ended with networking and the exchange of business cards.

Read more about FIDM Grad Paige Rangel on her blog: The Love Designed Life.



Advanced Fashion Design Grad Is an Associate Designer For Express (Interview)


Name: Ethan Bartlett

Major: Fashion Design (2010); Advanced Fashion Design (2011)

Job Title: Associate Designer (Women's Knits) for Express.

Location: I am based at their New York Design Studio.

What do you love most about your job and why? I have always had a strong passion for cut/sew knits, and working for a company as big as Express, I really get to utilize my passion and knowledge of knits in a meaningful way and on a enormous scale.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? My Advanced Fashion Design degree really prepared me with the knowledge of construction of garments, and how to make beautiful garments. I am so grateful to have worked with such inspiring instructors during my time at FIDM.



Merchandise Marketing Alumna Erica Thomas Launches New E-Commerce Site


After years of experience with a trio of brick and mortar stores, Erica Dee, Erica Dee Men, and Erica Dee Kids in Corona del Mar, CA, Merchandise Marketing Alumna Erica Thomas closed her high-end boutiques to launch Harper's, a trend-focused boutique at a more accessible price point. The shop, which opened in 2008, quickly became a Orange County shopping destination. Now Erica has launched a full E-commerce site that includes new merchandise every other day. 

"My beginning in the fashion industry started at the Los Angeles campus," she explains. "My education laid the foundation and gave me the knowledge to be successful in opening multiple retail stores and now launching a mega fashion E-commerce site." 



Apparel News Reports on FIDM's Recent Denim Industry Event


Mother jeans founder Tim Kaeding (left) with Kingpins founder Andrew Olah

California Apparel News has a story about Kingpins + FIDM, a recent event organized by the denim development tradeshow Kingpins and the college, held on the top floor of the Cooper Design Space in Los Angeles.


Speakers included Tim Kaeding, former creative director for 7 For All Mankind and founder of Mother denim brand; FIDM Graduate Joie Rucker (pictured, left) and Caroline Calvin, designers and founders of Calvin Rucker; denim legend Francois Girbaud, currently at J Brand; and Ben Talley Smith, a denim designer and consultant. 

The denim industry veterans and visionaries gave students advice on all aspects of the business, including breaking rules. "If you believe there are rules, you probably won’t be able to take anything to the next level,” said Rucker. 



Merchandise Product Development Grad Jordan Lausch Lands Job at Urban Outfitters Headquarters in Philadelphia


Name: Jordan Lausch

FIDM Major: Merchandise Product Development

FIDM Grad Year:
June 2014

Urban Outfitters (URBN Inc.)

Product Development Assistant

Tell us a little about yourself:
I'm inspired by the ocean and the great outdoors in general. I'm an avid antiquer. I make dream catchers in my spare time.

Where are you working?
I work at URBN Inc. Home Office in Philadelphia, PA. I am currently working for the Urban Outfitters brand as a product development assistant for both men's and women's sweaters. Every single day is different and inspiring at Urban. Most of my time is spent communicating directly to our vendors overseas about yarns that we are sourcing, styles that are being developed, and costing. This information then gets translated back to our design, production, and buying teams.

How did you find out about the job opportunity?
I began working with URBN at a store level when I started at FIDM in San Diego. I started as a sales associate at Anthropologie in La Jolla and was quickly promoted to the position of resident personal shopper. I then made a move to Los Angeles to finish my time at FIDM which lined up with an opportunity to be part of the opening team of BHLDN (Anthropologie's bridal sister brand) in Beverly Hills. It was through the store opening that I was able to pick the brains of several Home Office employees and I was later introduced the the Product Development recruiter at URBN. The rest is history.

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now?
My past classes at FIDM translate directly into my position now. FIDM has also granted me with the skill set to fully understand the design and garment construction processes. Connections made with instructors were (and continue to be) very important to me as I navigate this industry.

How did you decide on your major at FIDM?
I chose Product Development because I wanted the opportunity equally learn the business and creative sides of the industry. Product Development is an extremely well-rounded major. 

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you?
Sourcing materials is a large part of my job here at Urban and I find myself referring back to my Production and Sourcing Strategies class that I took during my last quarter at FIDM. I also keep my Textile Science swatch book on my desk for easy fiber and stitch reference.

Any advice for current FIDM Students?
Work, work, work. Even if that means flipping burgers at In-n-Out (I miss you, In-n-Out!!). A full resume always trumps an empty one.

What is your biggest goal right now?
My biggest goal right now is to furnish my new, historic apartment in Old City Philadelphia, and to continue to grow with URBN.

Anything else you’d like to share?
See what inspires me and scenes from the office by following me on Instagram (@jordlausch) or by taking a gander at my blog,



Military Veteran Is Asst. Manager at Hot Topic

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Military veteran Christopher Norkin earned his BS in Business Management from FIDM in Fall 2013. Here is how he did it.

How did you decide on FIDM?

I decided on FIDM prior to enlisting in the Army (I just needed the GI Bill to assist). I had a spokesperson from FIDM come to my high school and speak to my fashion and textiles class in 2006!

How did you decide on your major?

I received my Associates in Merchandise Marketing in June 2012. The decision was based on advice from my Admissions Advisor that the studies would prepare me for retail.

What is your current position?

I'm a Full-time Assistant Manager at Hot Topic. I started as a Sales Associate right before I enrolled for my Associates at FIDM in late 2010.

Any advice for former military considering FIDM?

My best advice to students who are veterans or who are using their parents/spouses' GI Bill is to use the full four years of it! The GI Bill supports a Bachelor’s education, and I highly suggest that students either take on the Business Management program or Advanced Studies. 



Former Military MP Aims for Fashion Design Business

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Casey Eby decided to her trade her rifle and body armor for fashion design when she came to FIDM in 2012. Now her sights are set on a BS in Business Management, followed by an MBA, and her own women's fashion/jewelry line. Here's how she does it.

Tell us about your military service.

I served in the U.S. Air Force, where I met my wonderful husband of 4 years. We both served in Texas together, then at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. I loved the military and was passionate about my career as a Military Police officer, though somehow, I was not fulfilled. I would find myself sketching clothing design ideas in my duty notebook and I was always looking at fashion blogs and websites. I dragged my husband to fashion week in Paris, which was about 5 hours away from where we lived, just so I could be around the industry.     

How did you find FIDM?

I originally heard about FIDM in 1999 when a representative came to my high school in Napa, northern California. I took a tour of the San Francisco campus and loved it, but I decided not to pursue a career in the fashion industry because unfortunately my family was negative about my pursuing an artistic career. The consensus was that I would not be able to support myself with a "creative career." Not following my heart is the greatest regret of my life! 

How did you make the transition to fashion college?

I was injured on duty and could no longer serve in the military. This was a blessing in disguise. It took some major prayer and support from my husband, but HE convinced me that Fashion was where I belonged. I hung up my M4 and my body armor, with my GI bill in hand. I applied to FIDM LA while I was still living in Germany, waiting for my official military release paperwork. It was never a question in my mind where I wanted to go to school. I contacted FIDM and Jeanette Guevarra, the counselor who interviewed me in 1999, still had my paperwork on file. It was like it was meant to be!  

What was your major?

I was accepted to FIDM's Fashion Design program within a few weeks of submitting my portfolio. I moved back to LA from Germany and started the Fashion Design program in fall of 2012.  

What did you like best about the program?

I loved that the Fashion Design program gave me a taste of all facets of the industry, from garment construction, pattern making, to Gerber. I graduated with a better idea of what avenue of the industry I wanted to pursue.  I went to FIDM not knowing how to sketch. This was always a huge frustration for me because I had so many ideas in my head, but my hand could not communicate them to paper. Thanks to the amazing guidance and patience of Ms. Nancy Riegelman (My sketching Goddess!), I was able to learn the language of fashion sketching. This has opened up a whole new world of creativity for me.

What was your education experience prior to FIDM?

Prior to FIDM I had taken some college classes at JCs, but it was always a half-hearted attempt. I did not see the general classes offered in a traditional college as applicable to anything I wanted to pursue as a career. I dropped out because I was so frustrated with the traditional college system. It didn't make any sense to me.  

At FIDM, I was able to understand why I was taking the classes in the program and that they all teach useful skills. Even the professional speaking class became an opportunity to get myself comfortable talking about my future business model. 

What are your plans after graduation?

I am currently pursuing my BS in Business Management at FIDM and will have my BS degree July of 2016. I have been thinking of going on for my MBA with Pepperdine School of Business.  

My professor, Dr. Morrison gave me some great advice; he said to make it a graduation present to myself to have a proposal for my first business completed by the time I walk for my Bachelor's. With a solid business plan, and a fire under my butt to get it done, I will be opening a luxury e-commerce site. I have been working on a jewelry line, for the last few years.  I plan to establish my retail brand and eventually expand into an in-house women's ready to wear line coupled with the jewelry. 

Did you do internships in the industry?

I landed my first internship as a design assistant with Heidi Merrick Studio. This was an amazing internship and I worked with her for eight months! The best teacher is hands on! I am a firm believer that if you want something, GO GET IT! Don't wait on anyone else, go pound the pavement and make things happen for your own career.  

Advice to future/current students?

FIDM helped to make my passions for designing clothing and jewelry gel together with my goal of owning a successful business. I would encourage any future FIDM student to treat this education as an investment in yourself. You will learn new skills that may be difficult, but give it all you've got. Eventually those weaknesses will become future strengths.  

Turn your dreams into goals and write them out on paper.  Keep them in front of you until you make them become your reality.  



MPD Graduate Is Director of Fashion Label in Dubai


Merchandise Product Development Alumna Mital Doshi is the Director of Lemonein FZ, LLC, a fashion label based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "Lemonein was my vision at the start of college and seeing it form is like a dream come true," she explains. "We offer not just clothing but unique works of art and rich culture. This essence is what keeps me going and what I love the most. I want to be one of the brands that develop from roots based in the Middle East."

The 2013 graduate says that FIDM helped her understand how to convert a vision into a reality: "For me, FIDM was place with great inspirations, from teachers to libraries to surrounding fashion industries and markets."



Alumni Panel Sparks Discussion at SF Career Connections

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"FIDM taught me that I am capable of accomplishing so much more than I ever imagined possible," summarized a participant in last week's popular Career Connections panel discussion on the San Francisco campus. Her fellow alumni panelists agreed.

Seven working alumni from a range of majors fielded questions from staff, faculty, and students about building fashion industry careers. Participants included: Alex Williams (Merchandising Assistant, Sears Holdings Co.); Raya Saab (Assistant Buyer, Sears Holding Co.); Brock Hughes (ecommerce Merchandise Coordinator, Charlotte Russe); Andrea Hillary (Asst. Merchandiser, Charlotte Russe); Theresa Frantz (Sr. Designer, Janie & Jack, Gymboree); Angelica Diaz (Sr. Assortment Analyst, Ross Stores); and Stephanie Bodner (Designer, Honey Cooler Handmade).



Introducing FIDM Grad Paul Hagopian's Shade55 X FIDM Designer Blog Collaboration


FIDM Grad Paul Hagopian is an American entrepreneur and designer who founded the men's denim line, Shade55. A son of immigrants, and a strong believer in the American Dream, Paul shares his story of influencing factors that helped successfully shape his career as a designer and owner of Shade55.

Paul understood the true meaning of individual initiative by observing his two immigrant parents who fled political violence in Lebanon and came to America to start a new life. His lineage includes generations of tailors, including his father, who worked with Paul's uncle at a clothing manufacturer. He eventually started a company called Cotton U.S.A. where Paul learned further hands-on, inside experience.

Growing up watching his father work in tailoring, Paul felt as though he was born with a “needle and thread in his hands.” He helped his father in the factory, and as a young boy, assisted in customer service and the shipping department. From this, he gained more experience in the industry and became intrigued by the art of making clothing. His knew intuitively that a career in fashion was the path for him and decided then and there to pursue it at any cost.

When he became older, he attended FIDM and took a two-year program in apparel manufacturing. Here he learned the academic skills he needed to combine with his hands-on industrial experience to launch a career in fashion design. He took a job at Joe’s Jeans, which is a premium Los Angeles-based denim company. Here, Paul learned that he could combine the influence and teachings his father gave to him and apply them to a different type of denim business.

During the height of the recession, Paul decided to move from Joe’s Jeans to start Shade55. His inspiration came from a desire to put Americans back to work and create jobs here by basing the entire manufacturing process within the United States. He uses no imported goods, nor does he ship any work overseas when other companies are doing so. Paul knew it was fundamental to his moral fiber to “keep denim here,” and keep Shade55 American.

Thus the foundation for Shade55 was made, and Paul continued his hands-on, quality-driven, non-corporate approach to managing a denim company. He realized that women had always been the primary focus of fashion, with a de-emphasis on men, and he wanted to reverse that with Shade55. He believed that men needed their own identity, and that denim was the staple of American men, from cowboys to urban professionals.

Shade55 can be found in stores across the country. The line’s success has its roots in Paul’s experience growing up observing the apparel industry first hand, to gaining academic experience at FIDM, and combining the knowledge to create an original, unique men’s denim line that celebrates American craftsmanship. 



Alyssa Casares Holds Fall 2014 Collection Preview at FIDM SF


Last week, Alyssa Nicole designer and Alumna Alyssa Casares held her Fall 2014 collection preview on the balcony of FIDM's San Francisco campus. Her ethereal and feminine women's label was founded in 2010 with her mother Sonia Casares and has evolved into a demi-couture collection handcrafted in San Francisco and Los Angeles. 


Alyssa Nicole has been featured in Women's Wear Daily, WGSN, Refinery 29, Racked SF, Daily Candy, and Teen Vogue, among others. 

Alyssa Nicole Fall 2014 from Alyssa Casares on Vimeo.




Actress and FIDM Alumna Shandel Miranda Launches Lingerie Line Vie Amor


Name: Shandel Miranda (Vigil)   (@ShandelMiranda)

FIDM Major: Merchandise Product Development

FIDM Grad Year: 2012


Title: Founder & Designer

Tell us a little about yourself: I'm an actress, model, and designer. I have lived in LA only three years, but have been a Cali girl my whole life. I was born in San Diego, California. I chose to move to LA because I believed in order to pursue all I desire, LA would be the best fit! Plus you can't beat the weather and shopping. :)

I have always been driven and determined all throughout my life, I graduated high school a year early, received a scholarship to UNLV where I studied and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts in 2009, I also studied real estate and was a licensed realtor while I was attending UNLV. Upon graduating, I began to reflect on what would make me happy and what I have always been doing and desired to do and that’s when I choose to make the move and applied to FIDM. I remember the day I got accepted I felt as though the stars where aligning and I remember shedding tears of joy!

I chose to work with lingerie because I felt that it was a market where I could really have the freedom to design what I wanted without any influence and I had and continue to have many ideas on how to make the lingerie market different. (Some, I cannot talk about yet, because they are patent pending—shhh…lol.)

I also feel that lingerie is a necessity and a luxury and my brand showcases the luxurious aspect. Lingerie is often reserved for personal intimate moments and when those moments arise I want my products to make women feel confident, sexy, and beautiful, regardless of their size or imperfections, because none of us are perfect! My pieces are offered in custom sizes for every woman to showcase their greatest and most favorable assets. I also use only the best quality in fabrics, so that there is comfort you can feel in every piece and the garments will last longer.

Tell us about the lingerie brand you're launching: The brand in called VIE AMOR, which means LIFE & LOVE. I chose that name because I feel those are the principles of living and because life and love go into every uniquely designed piece.

The style aesthetic one can look to expect from the brand is French influenced vintage. Everyday elegance.

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? Simply put, I don't know how I would of done it without FIDM.

Long version, FIDM has been a supportive influence in my pursuit. The teachers and staff continue to make me feel that anything is possible though dedication and hard work and putting it your 100%.

The knowledge, skill set, and connections I've learned and made are extremely vital to the fashion apparel industry.

How did you find out about FIDM? When I finally decided what I wanted to do, a good friend of mine at the time told me that her sister was a buyer for Old Navy and went to FIDM in San Francisco, and recommended I look into it. I took her advice and did my research and well you know how the rest goes...

How did you decide on your major? I originally considered the Fashion Design program, but after speaking with my advisor about my goal of having my own line and business, the Product Development program seemed to be a better fit and made more sense to me. 

Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? Sketching, Patternmaking, Textile science, Texting Testing, Retail Math and Costing, Sourcing, Branding, Portfolio, Illustrator, Photoshop—basically all of them!

Any advice for current FIDM Students? YES! Intern, intern, intern. Work with people who are already in the industry, gain actual experience, try to work with people who are doing what you want to do and do your best, give every job you take your 100% while you're there. Because sometimes what you give to others can come back to benefit you in ways you would never have imagined and take you places you never would have thought of. Also, don't stay in work environments that you aren't happy in, because a better, happier experience can be right around the corner and will appreciate you! Be strong, the industry can be hard, but whatever you put in you will get back and don't give up if things aren't happening fast enough for you, because it will happen, as long as you believe and work for it! That which is perceivable is achievable! Never be afraid to ask for help and stay positive! xoxo

What is your biggest goal right now? My goal is to have my products carried in stores in Los Angeles, New York, Spain, London, and Paris.

Anything else you’d like to share? The website for the line is, email me at for all special orders.



Join Us For the 5th Annual Innovative Materials Conference


The FIDM Library and Alumni Association invite you to "Recycle, Reuse, Reinvent" in celebration of the 5th annual Innovative Materials Conference, curated by FIDM Textiles & Materials Manager, Kristine Upesleja. 

When: August 18, 2014 to August 22, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: FIDM Los Angeles Annex, Room A 332, Standard Oil Building, 605 Olympic Blvd.

Exhibit: See the latest innovations in the textiles and materials industries along with designer Janet Hansen’s LED clothing.

Tours: Sign up classes for a tour with the Textiles & Materials department team; RSVP to

Guest Speaker: On Thursday, August 21, 2014, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., hear from Costume Designer Janet Hansen, who designs for Britney Spears, Daft Punk, and the Rockettes. Janet will discuss her LED costumes and clothing among other topics. Enjoy refreshments and network with FIDM Alumni and industry professionals. RSVP by August 19, 2014 to




Alumnus Evan Kinori Joins Handcrafted Denim Line Jack/Knife


FIDM Alumnus Evan Kinori has recently joined the handcrafted denim brand Jack/Knife. The Stylesight blog recently interviewed the clothing company's founders, who say:

"He has helped to solidify the brand’s direction and pushed our design, pattern-making and production capabilities. Through countless hours and studio-overnights, Evan has made a serious commitment to taking the ethos of Jack/Knife and harnessing our potential to become more efficient makers."




Merchandise Marketing Grad Is Merchandise Assistant in RTW Coats at Macy's (Interview)


Recent Merchandise Marketing Alumna Fernanda Umeoka has an exciting career with Macy's in New York City. We recently chatted with the Brazilian native to learn more. 

What have you been up to since graduation? I graduated from FIDM in December 2013. As soon as I was done with school, I headed home to Brazil for the holiday, and then promptly returned to the U.S. where I packed up my things in L.A. and moved to New York City the following day. The next Monday I began the Executive Development Program at

How did you begin your career at Macy's? I began my career at through the Executive Development Program (EDP), which is a eight-week training program designed to give recent graduates exposure to both the buying and planning side of the business. The program combined on-the-job and classroom training, leadership workshops, off-site experiences, and opportunities to hear from senior executives. 

What are your current responsibilities? After graduating EDP, I received my first assignment where I am currently the Merchandise Assistant in RTW Coats. My current role encompasses a broad range of responsibilities. I do everything from communicating with vendors on a day-to-day basis, getting merchandise live on the site, analyzing selling reports to attending market, creating purchase orders, and making re-order recommendations. My favorite part of this job is that every day is different. The industry is constantly changing, the product is always evolving, and we are always preparing for the following season. It’s exciting to see the entire process from beginning to end: from when you see the product at market to when it is live on the site.



Apparel Industry Management Grad's Men's Line Now at Urban Outfitters (Interview)


We recently caught up with Apparel Industry Management graduate Reggie Aguiluz to get an update on his men's line VDE.

What is new with VDE? There's been a few new things going on with VDE. We just launched with Urban Outfitters' Without Walls division, which is a hybrid of contemporary/performance wear. Our bestselling items such as "The Samurai 1.1 Jogger" and "The 3/4 Assassin Short" are available online and in the newly opened Urban Outfitters store in Herald Square New York. We're getting ready to release our new Athletic Samurai Jogger which will be available on Jack Threads this fall as well.

Are you doing the designing yourself? Yes, I've been designing everything myself. I try to keep the collections small, but unique and very dedicated to the detailing of each garment. The brand is manufactured in the U.S. from imported Japanese technical fabrics.

Where do you see the line heading in the future? I see VDE heading towards the athletic street culture. For the competitors, contenders, and challengers in the world, not just in the gym, but from the playing field to their ateliers. The line has a very unique concept mixing street, contemporary, and athletic ingredients, so I see the brand opening up a new alley within the fashion industry and having it's unique niche within the retail world in the near future.




Nick Verreos Blogging For 'Project Runway' Season 13


For the 11th season in a row, Nick Verreos is serving as an official blogger for Project Runway and Lifetime. The season 2 veteran, and Project Runway: Under the Gunn winning mentor, offers his fashion expertise and entertaining quips about the reality competition show in his weekly recaps. 

Read Nick's post on the Season 13 Premiere



Merchandise Marketing Alumna Owns Golden Bones Boutique & Salon in Austin, Texas


Along with partner Bijou Finney, Merchandise Marketing Alumna Kassi Foster owns Golden Bones Boutique & Salon in Austin, Texas, which is celebrating its second anniversary. "Our mission was and is to bring the edgier and trendier styles to the young women of Austin," Kassi explains of their one-stop-shop for fashion, hair, and makeup. "Bijou and I both grew up in El Paso, TX, and she went to school right outside of Austin. I decided to come back to Texas after attending FIDM and chose Austin because the fashion scene is really starting to grow and expand."


Kassi, who also has a bachelor's degree in sociology from Arizona State University, says that FIDM helped prepare her to run a business in numerous ways. "The buying classes helped tremendously with that aspect of the business. Also, all of the management skills I learned have definitely come into play. Trend forecasting is one of the most important skills that I learned at school, and impacts our business daily," she explains. 




Farbod Barsum Collection Featured in Fastlane Lifestyle Magazine


Alumnus Farbod Barsum's self-titled collection of luxury exotic handbags and accessories is featured in Fastlane Lifestyle magazine:

"The glamour, prestige, and luxury of air travel have not disappeared, and either should the accessories that accompany us on our excursions around the globe. From private jet to first class comfort, FARBOD BARSUM’s collection of travel bags and accessories, made with luxury exotic skins such alligator and ostrich, are the perfect thing for a business trip to Dubai or a romantic getaway to Paris." 



Elizabeth and James Production Coordinator Is Apparel Industry Mgmt Grad


Wahiawa, Hawaii native Krystal Cabo, a graduate of the Apparel Industry Management Program, is currently the Production Coordinator at Jaya Apparel Group LLC, where she works under Elizabeth and James, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's women's contemporary line, and TEXTILE, their casual sportswear line. 

How did you hear about FIDM and make the decision to attend? My counselor in high school had FIDM's Catalog on her bookshelf that I came across. After flipping through the pages, I wanted to know more about FIDM and its creative curriculum. FIDM representatives came to Hawaii to talk about the college, and I won one of the big raffle prizes to attend 3 Days of Fashion in L.A. I remember telling my parents that this was a sign and since my parents were supportive of me, we booked our flights to check it out.

After attending 3 Days of Fashion, getting a feel of the campus, and getting lost in Southern California's beauty, I was sold. I knew that FIDM would help me build a solid foundation to better prepare myself for my future in the fashion industry.

Did FIDM help you get any internships or jobs? I used the FIDM Portal's Career Page to see if they had any job leads. It took me a few visits until I found the job I was looking for. I got hired as a Production Assistant and worked under Elizabeth and James and Patterson J. Kincaid.

In your role as Production Coordinator, what are some of your responsibilities? After a year of being a Production Assistant, I had the opportunity to transition into being a Production Coordinator. My responsibilities include daily communication with import vendors and all departments involved with development/production. I create and send out purchase orders to our manufactures. I make sure that our vendors and our production are on schedule with our Time and Action calendar.

Simultaneously, I monitor WIP (work in progress) report for multiple deliveries and work with the New York sales team on unit projections and reallocate units based on selling. I organize, file, and maintain documents pertaining to production.

What are your ultimate career goals? In 2010, before my move to LA, I noticed that fashion in Hawaii was slowly growing. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that fashion bloom and till this day I still daydream and picture myself being a part of that movement to help put Hawaii on the map to be a new destination for fashion. My ultimate career goal is to return home to Hawaii with all the knowledge, experience, and exposure that I've gained from school and working in the fashion industry and use it to help me start building my own "Made in Hawaii" clothing/manufacturing company.



Fashion Design Alumna's Blackberry Maverick Label to Debut at Phoenix Fashion Week


San Francisco Fashion Design Alumna Lexi Raney is one-half of the design duo behind Blackberry Maverick, a dynamic collection of ready to wear dresses that fuse classic 1950s elegance with the bold force of the 1980s. Lexi and her partner Leslie Robertson were chosen to be one of the emerging design duos for 2014 PHXFW boot camp. 

"Each year our team travels to 10 cities in search of the best emerging designers in the nation," explains PHXFW Executive Director Brian Hill. "When we discovered Blackberry Maverick this year, we were very impressed with the high-quality design and long-term vision; we are honored to add this brand to our line-up." Phoenix Fashion Week 2014 kicks off on October 1, 2014. 

The Blackberry Maverick line, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, offers flattering, high-waisted silhouettes, billowing skirts, and soft cowls that flow with ease. Details include bold zippers and playful hemlines. "I would be lost in this fashion world without the invaluable information I learned at FIDM," Lexi says. 



Alumni Spotlight: Graphic Design Graduate Candace Peoples

Photo (12)
Name: Candace Peoples
How did you first get into website design/publication design/graphic design?
My freshman year of high school, I took a class called Computer Applications. My teacher at the time, who has become a great friend of mine, showed an interest in the work I was submitting for class assignments. She asked me if I'd ever considered graphic design. I had not; I told her I wanted to be a child psychologist. (Crazy, huh? Who was I?) She introduced me to the Future Business Leaders of America Club where I competed in events like Desktop Publishing, Computer Applications, Spreadsheet Applications, and Electronic Career Portfolio. Since my freshman year, I joined the Yearbook Staff as Layout Editor and continued to take computer classes. My teacher, Mrs. Seiler, is one of the most remarkable and influential people I've met. What a feeling, to have someone see something naturally within you and believe thoroughly in your potential. I thank her endlessly for that. 
What made you want to study Graphic Design at FIDM? 
I thought it would be a great choice to leave the midwest. I had my sights set on either the East or West coasts. I initially heard about FIDM from an old friend who wanted to study Merchandise Product Development. I researched FIDM a little more and to be quite honest, it was the FIDMDigitalArtsBlog that sold me. You can ask a few graphics graduates who'd been featured on the blog. I said hello to a couple of them! 
What was the most valuable piece of information you learned during your education at FIDM?
I've had my share of lessons about the importance of time management. I've also learned how great it was to be involved. I had a great experience as a member of and President of the AIGA Red Dot Student Group and as Art Director of FIDM MODE Magazine for the upcoming issue. The most valuable piece of information for me, however, I just learned recently when speaking to a friend at Graduation. She was giving advice to incoming graphic design students and she said, "Don't think too much outside of the box. Start inside of the box and work your way out." We ended up having a conversation about it right after, and the "Oh my goodness, that's some great advice!" light bulb went on.  
What are some of your proudest FIDM (or non FIDM) accomplishments? 
I absolutely loved Art Directing the latest issue of FIDM MODE. It was a pleasure to work with everyone involved. If there is anything I have to say about the publication is that there is so much potential for the future of that magazine as a representation of all of the talents and gifts, right here at FIDM. Man, I am proud talking about it right now. There was so much I was able to see and create; unfortunately, not all of it could be published but it was still a great experience. Everyone who was apart of the process of creating the magazine from its generation to it being published is important. Thank you for this platform. 
Now that you have graduated and earned your degree, where do you work/what do you do?
I am currently freelancing, but still on the search for full-time work. I was interning briefly at Annex Magazine, but I will be transitioning into the Art Director position within the next few months. 
What is your dream job or ultimate goal?
This questions awakes a tad bit of fear in me because I don't exactly know yet. I foresee art directing to be something that I enjoy very much, and I really love creative collaboration. I just want to design great things. To be fair, I do imagine myself living in New York City having the design time of my life. I just want to do what feels good, and I want people to feel something (which doesn't always have to be good) when they see what I do. 
What inspires you to create?
Culture, really. Whether we want to believe it or not, everything we do as creatives sends messages. We can let the artist in ourselves say "I was compelled to paint this" or "I was feeling this way, so I created that" - there is still a message there. As a designer, we design with intent. There is always a purpose. We are mediums, ourselves. I think that is probably what fascinates me the most about design is how much we control or influence the world around us with the things we create or the messages we send.  
How would you describe your style?
Hmm. Fun. Sometimes trendy. Fresh. Engaging. I like color but I love black and white - especially in photography. Typography is also my #1 everything. 
Current favorite font?
My handwriting, ha! (Seriously, though). I started a Tumblr blog where I just post quotes and sayings with my own handwriting called Sometimes I post things I've written, but mostly little sayings, lyrics, words or whatever comes to mind. I just love handwriting in general. It's my favorite!
Has your education at FIDM helped prepare you for the work you are doing?
Absolutely. For now. 
Do you have advice for incoming students?
Be patient with yourself. One of my favorite writers and a remarkable woman to know, her name is Nayyirah Waheed, wrote about allowing yourself to mature in your craft and taking care of your creative health. Do that. Open yourself to the possibilities of growth without chaining yourself to the expectations of what your gift should look like. It will manifest. You will get there. 
Be sure to check out Candace's Websites: 
See a few snaps from her portfolio below: 



'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Set Decoration Production Assistant Is FIDM Grad


Entertainment Set Design & Decoration Alumna Emma Verdugo, who has past credits as a Set Decoration Coordinator on Saving Mr. Banks and The Campaign, among others, was the Set Decoration Product Assistant on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the film that opened on July 11, 2014, and has already grossed over $90 million.

"Working on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was my first time working on a movie of that magnitude. We had huge sets shooting in both New Orleans and in Vancouver, Canada," Emma explains. "The working environment was fast paced which was very challenging at times, but seeing how great all of the sets looked in the end made all of the hustle worth it. I could not be more grateful for that opportunity." 

Up next, Emma's work will be seen in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. She recently moved back home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she's currently working on The Fantastic Four as a Set Decoration Production Assistant.

"FIDM has been very beneficial to my career in the film industry," she adds. "I consider the internship opportunities and connections I made throughout the program to be priceless. Being able to work so closely and learn from some of the best people in the industry really prepared me for what working on a show would really be like." 

Photo credit: Kimberly Genevieve 



36 FIDM Alumni Working in Hollywood Both On-Camera and Behind the Scenes


Did you know that FIDM Students and Alumni work on some of Hollywood's hottest movies and television shows like The Hunger Games: Catching FireThe Fault in Our Stars2 Broke GirlsGleeMan of Steel, Smash, Alice in Wonderland and more. FIDM Alumni graduate with the skills necessary to launch a successful career in the Entertainment Industry. They’re doing everything from designing costumes and managing art departments to creating visual effects and even appearing on-camera. 

Mary Claire Hannan, Costume Designer, The Fault in Our Stars

Marlene Stewart, Costume Designer, Oblivion, Date Night, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Soyon An, Costume Designer, Step Up: All In 

Mona May, Costume Designer, CluelessAmerican Reunion, Zookeeper

“I constantly tell people about all of the new and amazing programs offered by FIDM. The college is at the forefront of integrating media and technology with the many programs and degrees that they offer.” – Jill Ohanneson, Costume Designer, Revenge

Kyle Brosius (Art Director), Kyle Thorsen (Lead Motion Graphics Designer) and Justin Hamilton, (Lead VFX Designer), Greenhaus GFX creating trailers for films like Maleficent, 22 Jump Street, Oz the Great and Powerful, and HBO series Girls.

Trish Summerville, Costume Designer, Gone Girl, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Jessica Carpenter, Costumer, Ender’s Game, Piranha 3D

Bérénice Eveno, Cinematography Apprentice, The Dark Knight Rises

Shelli Nishino, Costumer, Man of Steel, After Earth

Kaitlyn Wood, Buyer, The Call, Hitchcock

“FIDM is great because almost all of your instructors are currently working in the industry. You can pick their brains and I was able to have some amazing internships.” – Emma Verdugo, Set Decoration Coordinator, Saving Mr. Banks and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Michelle D’Antonio, Specialty Costumer, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Trayce Gigi Field, Costume Designer, 2 Broke Girls

Mandi Line, Costume Designer, Pretty Little Liars


Eileen Cox Baker, Costume Designer, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 

Suzy Magnin, Key Costumer, The Mentalist

“At FIDM, I learned the diverse aspects of costume design, from history and research to sketching, construction, crafts, budget continuity, and the etiquette of this sophisticated, hands-on profession.” – Francine Lecoultre, Costume Textile Artist, Fast & Furious 7, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Textile Artist, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Greg LaVoi, Costume Designer, Major Crimes, The Closer 

Kristi Hoffman, Assistant Costume Designer, Dancing with the Stars

Nancy Au, Costume Supervisor, BridesmaidsBlended, Inside Llewyn Davis, This Is 40


Halina Siwolop, Set Decorator, Masters of Sex

Giovanna Ottobre-Melton, Costume Designer, Gang Related, Mob City

Christine Bean, Assistant Costume Designer, Blacklist, Smash

Sarah Stimpson, Art Department Coordinator, The Neighbors

Ali Matilla, Set Decorator, Real Husbands of Hollywood

 “As soon as I walked into the lobby of FIDM I could sense the feeling of creativity and knew that this was where I could acquire and knowledge and develop the skills to achieve my dream.” – Michelle Liu, Set Costumer, Jersey Boys, Glee, The Bling Ring, and Avatar.


Danielle Colding, Winner, HGTV’s Design Star

Desiree Hartsock, Star, The Bachelorette

Casey Noble, Host, HGTV’s Design on a Dime

Jonathan Gitlin (Creative Director), Mario Hernandez (Senior Motion Graphics Designer), and Ryan Verseman (Motion Graphics Producer) at Create Advertising developing trailers for Tammy, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and Netflix original series Orange is the New Black.

Daniel Musto, Stylist and Costume Designer, Fashion Star and The Kris Jenner Show

Feeling inspired? Click here to request more information about attending FIDM College. 



MPD Alumna Is Senior Licensing Manager at Sony PlayStation


Merchandise Product Development Alumna Hykeema "Keema" Moorer is now Senior Licensing Manager at Sony PlayStation (Sony Computer Entertainment America) after working as a Licensing Manger at The Walt Disney Company (Disney Consumer Products.). We recently caught up with the 2000 graduate to talk about her career: 

What do you love about your new job and why? First, I am a huge gamer and PlayStation is the company of my dreams.(I have been playing PlayStation since the launch of the console.) Coming from a huge entertainment company like Disney, I learned that content and merchandise go hand-in-hand; I was waiting for the gaming industry to catch up and my company of choice did just that. I get to bring in licensees who can capture the essence of our IP’s and the PlayStation brand through consumer merchandise.

It is very much like being an entrepreneur where I get to look for white space opportunities in the marketplace while managing and growing a business as if it were my own. I also get to work on contract negotiations, retail presentations, educating our studios on what licensing is and how it can benefit our company, as well as attend trade shows to scout out new licensing opportunities. And let’s face it who doesn't like play at work--and I mean that in the literal sense.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? My education was essential in grooming me for the world of licensing. I started my career working in product development for American Apparel and Rock & Republic. From there, I applied for a job at MGA Entertainment as a licensing coordinator. I had no idea what licensing was at the time but decided to give it a shot either way. About three months into this new world I decided that licensing was the place for me. It allowed me to use more of what I learned at FIDM: Merchandise Marketing, Product Development, and Retail Buying to name a few.

What are your career goals? My ultimate career goal is to become President of Licensing. I would love to one day manage a team of eager professionals who are looking to grow a business from the ground up by turning content (movies, TV Shows, video games, etc.) into physical goods (apparel, toys, accessories, etc.).



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.

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