Karen Krantz

Fashion Marketing & Management

The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago

Karen Krantz (AiChicago)

Students often discover a new interest or skill set they may not have known they possessed before my class. Dr. Karen Krantz , Instructor , The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I’ve always had a creative eye, but I think a defining moment in becoming a creative professional was when I realized that aside from my enthusiasm for fashion and computers I also had a desire to become an educator at the collegiate level. After receiving my MBA in Marketing and working in the industry, I still felt something missing in my professional growth. After talking to one of my mentors, they suggested combining my three interests, and I have been teaching Fashion Marketing for 20+ years. I always try to focus on incorporating technology into my teaching, whether it’s a creative application for a magazine spread, visual display, promotional material or a business analysis tool for analyzing numbers, creating scenarios or what-if analysis. It’s about bringing my interests and talents together and educating every student that enters my classroom and helping them build a strong foundation for success. 

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I relate my industry experience (advertising, sales, direct marketing, research, international business and design) in various ways. I continuously network and keep up with current industry trends.  I frequently talk about and refer to my career path from college to now. It helps to explain how career paths can change—stressing the importance of how your career path can take on many directions. My background also allows me to help students manage their busy lives: working full time, family, and going to school. I am also earning my DBA in International Business, so I discuss the challenges and opportunities of globalization in our industry.

How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?

I learned early on in my teaching career that when students have projects where collaboration is involved, individuals tend to take on the same role over and over. They choose what they feel comfortable with or feel is their strong suit. To push them further, I set up mini projects where each student is assigned a different role than they held in the previous project. This helps them to get out of their comfort zone and expand their capabilities and skills. In fact, students often discover a new interest or skill set they may not have known they possessed before my class.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Coverage of material is crucial. but what is more important in my classroom is teaching students the kinds of skills that will better prepare them for what their professional career has in store for them.

Anything else?

My approach to mentoring goes far beyond their time in school. I let my students know that, even after graduation, they can always reach out to me for career direction and advice.