New York Journal: Day 5

Unfortunately, today was our very last day in New York, however it was a very long day and we made the absolute best of it!

We started out by going to WRK (Work, Rest, Karma) where we met CMU alum Zac Stoner, who now works there. WRK is a company that assists with designing for brands such as Ryan Seacrest and Vince Camuto. They work to help these brands build a strong image as well. Zac was so sweet, and it was great to be able to talk to him.

After WRK, we headed to Soho for the rest of the day’s activities. We first went to Maje, which is a luxury boutique that started in Paris. They are considered a bridge category. We met with McKenzie, who is the manager of the store. She explained that the store’s target market is all women – old and young. She says that she sees a lot of mothers and daughters come in together to go shopping and they both end up finding something that they love.

After Maje, we went to Rebecca Minkoff. I am a huge fan of Rebecca, so I was super excited to see her store. Within the store, there is an interactive mirror inside the fitting room in which you can adjust the lighting to test how the garment will look in certain conditions, order a drink, and even chat with a stylist. They also showed us their new key chains that have USB cables hidden inside them so that you can charge your phone on the go. I thought they displayed a great effort of catering to their target market- the millennial woman.

We finished the day with an alumni dinner, where we got to spend some quality time with some of the awesome CMU alumni who are now living and working in NYC.

One of the most important things I learned today is how important technology is when trying to keep brick and mortar stores relevant. We all know that consumers are leaning towards online shopping and brick and mortar sales are declining, but Rebecca Minkoff is doing an outstanding job keeping her stores fresh and relevant, which is bringing in more traffic.

Another thing I learned today was the importance of internships. I do my internship next summer, but hearing the staff at WRK talk about how many internships they each did (typically around 4-5 each) really showed me that my internship next summer should not be my last, and I should continue trying to get these opportunities and meeting new people.

The last thing I learned today was how lucky I am to be at CMU, because the classes I am taking will prepare me for a career in merchandising or product development. Because I of my CAD and PLM experience, I will be prepared to take a wide variety of jobs. I never realized that students at other schools did not take these kinds of classes. It makes me very thankful that I chose CMU!



New York Journal: Day 4

We got an early start today, in fact 8:00am to be exact. Our first trip of the day was to Bergdorf Goodman, where the Human Resources manager Johanna gave us a private tour of the entire store before they even opened. This was absolutely amazing and just reminded me how much I adore luxury brands and products.

After the tour at Bergdorf, we went to lunch at Chipotle and then headed to West Village to visit Trend Union. Trend Union started in Paris, and is a trend forecasting company that has gained widespread popularity and now has offices in Japan and New York City. Our contact there was named Olivia, and she was so sweet and cute. We got to watch a presentation featuring a video from the spring/summer 2019 forecast.

We finished off the evening by heading to Broadway to see Hello Dolly. It was an awesome play and such a cool experience to see a show on Broadway in New York City. The play was actually very funny, which I did not expect, and I had such a fun night with all of my classmates.

One thing I learned today is about the layout of the Bergdorf Goodman store on fifth avenue. Every floor has a different focus, which I thought was a very cool way of laying out the space. For example, the basement contained all of the women’s beauty products,

Another thing I learned today was about the importance of Linda Fargo. I have never known about her before today, but now I realize she is one of the biggest names in fashion. She has a concept store within Bergdorf Goodman where she collects garments and accessories inspired by her travels. Her small space in BG was absolutely amazing, and I look forward to researching more about her.

Lastly, I learned about the luxury brand Akris, which is actually the #1 selling brand within Bergdorf Goodman. I was shocked to know how popular this brand was, because I had never head of it before. After doing some exploring, I found that their pieces are simple, yet absolutely breathtaking. I always enjoy learning about new brands and their heritage.




New York Journal: Day 3

Today was a very rainy and busy day in NYC! We started out by heading to the Garment District. We met with a tour guide named Mike, who had worked in the fashion industry his entire career, and is now retired. Mike took us into some awesome factories where jewelry and fabric was produced. We also got to go into Mood, a fabric store that is featured on Project Runway. Then, we did a visual merchandising tour of all of the luxury fashion brands storefronts. It was amazing to see all of the fantastic store fronts, and some that were not all that impressive. Last, we ventured off to the MET, where we toured the Heavenly Bodies exhibit. I was so excited for this, because I was mesmerized by all the looks at the MET Gala and couldn’t wait to see the exhibit itself.

Something that I learned today was that H&M originated in Sweden, and is also the most profitable fashion brand. I assumed that a luxury brand would be the most profitable, but in fact it is actually H&M. The island is only 13 miles long, and there are 10 H&M locations.

Another thing I learned today was how much time and effort actually goes into making a window display. While it was pouring rain and humid, we saw teams of visual merchandisers up on ladders trying to update the store fronts. This just shows the dedication that goes into creating the perfect advertisement.

The last big thing that I took away from today was how little materials are actually produced in New York. It was shocking to see how much fabric was shipped in from other countries due to lower cost. This was a bit disappointing to me, because it is hard for companies to regulate employee safety and standards if the factories are so far away.




New York Journal: Day 2

Today was a beautiful (and extremely hot!) day in New York! We started off by heading to the Bindle and Keep studio in Brooklyn. Bindle and Keep designs gender neutral suits, so men or women (including people transitioning) are able to gain confident and a new outlook on life. It was really inspiring to see how passionate the founder, Daniel, was about making everyone feel comfortable in their clothes.

Next, we went to lunch at a pizza place called Roberta’s. We had a delicious salad and we got to try all different types of pizza. The staff was so friendly and accommodating of our large group.

After that, we went to the studio of Bil Donovan, who is the illustrator for Dior. Bil recently traveled to Central Michigan University’s Threads Fashion Show. He was very impressed, which was an awesome compliment coming from such an important man in the fashion industry. Bil was so friendly and down to earth, and made us feel so at home in his little studio.

To finish off the day, we headed to the Botanical Gardens. We spent about two hours there and it was great to just be able to walk around and enjoy the peaceful scenery. There were so many beautiful places to walk around and explore.

One of the most important things I learned today was from Daniel, who was the founder of Bindle and Keep, who explained to us how the company does not advertise at all. Daniel believes that if you create a quality product, people will come to you, you don’t need to reach out to the consumer. I think this was an interesting idea considering how much emphasis the fashion industry as a whole seems to put on marketing and advertising.

The next thing I learned today also came from Bindle and Keep, where Daniel shared with us that he did not take out any loans or borrow any money to start his business. To be honest, I didn’t even think this was possible. But Daniel proved to us that even with very little startup money, hard work and dedication can lead to success.

Another important piece of information that I learned today came from Bil Donovan, who explained to us how when he was in college, a professor of his told him he would never make it. However, he stayed focused on his dream and constantly improved and now he is working at Dior. This really just goes to show that if you are passionate about your dreams and are willing to dedicate your life to something, your dreams can come true.


New York Journal: Day 1

Today was an exciting day in New York!

We started out eating breakfast at a small diner where I ate a lovely omelette with avacado, mushrooms, and tomato. After breakfast, we walked a couple blocks to our first appointment of the day, which was at Kohls.

We met with an Alumni named Claire who gave us a tour of the Kohls corporate office. Everything in the building was very modern. There was a lot of product on mannequins around the office which I thought was really inspiring and a great reminder of why everyone was there. The Kohls mission statement is “to inspire and empower families to lead fufilled lives” which is plastered all over the walls of the office. This is another great reminder of the employees’ purpose. The Kohls office in New York focuses on specifically licensed brands, while the Kohls corporate office in Wisconsin focuses on private labels. Kohls also had several brand rooms, where associates can have meetings with buyers and display the merchandise.

Next, we traveled to a men’s underwear company called 2(X)ist. There were three CMU alumni who worked there, and they all seemed to be loving what they were doing. It was crazy to see how much freedom this team had in the design process and creating new garments. Although 2(X)ist is a small company, they have started selling in Target and Macy’s, and soon I think they will become a brand that everyone recognizes.

Then we traveled to Victoria’s Secret corporate office where we met an alumni named Lauren. She was so sweet to us and seemed to really enjoy her job at Pink. She worked in bra development. She seemed so passionate about what she was doing and happy to create quality products for the customer.

One of the most important things I learned today is how much companies rely on trend forecasting services to predict what will be in style. Some of the common trend forecasting services I heard about were Trend Union and WJSN. This makes me even more excited to go to Trend Union this week!

Another thing I learned today is just how many teams and groups of people go into creating every product. I always thought that it was just one person that went into making a bra, but it is teams of people: some focus on fabrics, others work on design, and others make technical packs.

Another super important thing I learned today was how far in advance product development teams need to be working. At Victoria’s Secret, Lauren told us that they typically begin designing a year ahead of time, so right now they are working on the Fall 2019 collections. I always knew fashion moved quickly, but this just showed me how quickly.

Overall, today was a wonderful day and I am so excited for tomorrow!



I Made It!

This morning, I woke up at 4am and headed to the Detroit Metro Airport, where I boarded a plane to New York. After a quick two hour nap on the plane, I woke up and arrived in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, as Alicia Keys would say.

I am here as part of my FMD 350: Professional Study Tour class. I have never been to New York before, and I am absolutely in love already. The first thing we did was go out to eat, at a Mexican restaurant where I got a lovely chicken burrito bowl. Next, we went right to Time Square. We were able to walk around and take it all in, but our leisurely stroll was ended a bit early due to rain.

I am so very excited for the rest of this week. Each day we have different appointments at different fashion companies within the city. I am looking forward to exploring more and looking for potential job opportunities within NYC!

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Leadership Education

Political Science Reflection

WHAT: As part of my LAS protocol, I was required to take a class called “Introduction to American Government and Politics”. Although the class was unrelated to my major, I have always really enjoyed history and politics classes. I truly believe it is part of everyone’s civic duty to know and understand at least the basics of politics and how the American government functions.

SO WHAT: One of my favorite parts of the semester was a group project that we had to complete in randomly assigned groups. Our task was to create an immigration reform policy. At first, it was very challenging to talk about immigration with ten random strangers, but after a while we all came to conclusions and were able to reach a decision for a plan that would allow immigrants easier access to citizenship. It was great getting to know these people who I otherwise may have never even met.

NOW WHAT: Overall, this class has really sparked my interest in politics. I never really knew how blind I was to what is going on in the world until I took this class. I think it is important for me to start focusing on issues bigger than just the ones effecting me directly. I think it is easy to say that you “don’t follow politics”, but the truth is that politics matter and they effect every one of us. This class has really opened my eyes to this idea, and it the future I am aiming to be more socially and politically aware.