Fashion Marketing & Management
Adjunct Faculty, Fundamentals of Fashion Styling
The Art Institute of Atlanta
It’s important that I share with my students the importance of falling in love with the business of what you’re doing, as well as the creative aspect. Kwame Waters , Adjunct Faculty, Fundamentals of Fashion Styling , The Art Institute of Atlanta
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I’ve always been a creative, if you will. I was exposed to the Arts & Entertainment world at a very early age, and I truly fell in love with it. I knew early on that I would work in the fashion and entertainment Industry. It’s amazing how life will take you on a journey that doesn’t look like it’s going in the right direction until you arrive.
I had the pleasure of working with a very well-known fashion stylist by the name of June Ambrose on a video shoot for the R&B group 112 (Bad Boy Records). Watching her create and pull everything together was amazing. That experience helped me to realize what I wanted to do exactly.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?
I’ve always wanted to teach. Coming up in this industry, I had to learn a lot of things on my own. At the time, there really wasn’t a course to teach you how to become a stylist. The only courses available focused on Fashion Design, Merchandising, or Buying. Most of my knowledge was obtained by way of assisting other stylists for years. I also worked for Turner Broadcasting for 13 years, while I was building my fashion career. Working at Turner showed me what the desired finished product should look like.
It’s important that I share with my students the importance of falling in love with the business of what you’re doing, as well as the creative aspect. I tell them all time that the creative aspect will get you in the door, but the business aspect will keep you in the room.
Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
Fundamentals of Fashion Styling is designed to give my students a very realistic, hands-on approach to styling. The goal is to equip the students with the knowledge and skills to effectively work on a professional set.
During the eleven-week course, the students execute creative homework assignments, an in-class photo shoot and, finally, a ten-page fashion editorial. Collectively, this approach introduces the students to deadlines and the fast-paced demands of the business to be creative and effective at the same time.
The students have to step up and deliver, and I truly enjoy when I see my students begin to realize just how talented they are.
What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?
I believe that collaboration with students from other programs is extremely important. I continue to encourage my students to step out of their comforts zones and introduce themselves to the other future creative professionals in the program. Often times, my students want to work solo on the projects that I assign them. However, I have to explain to them that in the real world, they will be asked to work with other creatives.
In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?
One of the single most important things I try to impart to my students is to get everything they can out of their education experience. It’s more affordable to sit at home and do nothing, why pay for school and not partake of all that is entitled to you. The experience is what they make of it.
I also encourage my students to never quit on themselves or their education. If they sign on for this journey, quitting should never be an option for them. When I decided to enroll at The Art Institute of Atlanta, I promised myself that I would graduate and, to this day, it is one of my greatest accomplishments.