Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
Recently I was giving my students some words of encouragement as they left for summer break. As I urged them to push themselves in their studies and to never give up, they looked at me with awe and admiration. I knew that was a moment they’d never forget. And that I’d keep inspiring my students to apply themselves to the work that lies before them.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
After I graduated from this very school, I started my own fashion business, making swimwear collections. I thoroughly understand both the industry and the student’s perspective. Many students want to start their own businesses, but don’t totally understand the fashion industry. So I share my own experiences to help them gain that knowledge.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching, mentoring, and pushing your students beyond their own perceived limits?
I choose projects that push students to practice and manage their time effectively so they can produce their best work. One project calls for students to research a designer’s past collections and replicate the technical flats of ten of the designer’s garments; they also write a paper about the designer’s personal and professional history. It’s a way for them to explore the designer’s process and their signature style—and practice adapting to a brand’s aesthetic, even if it’s contrary to their own. Students are typically apprehensive about the technical flats and how many they have to complete. I coach them through the process and they usually rise to the challenge—often surprising themselves.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?
I tell my students that they’ll learn more from each other than they will from me. Seeing different perspectives impact their artistry and way of thinking for the better. I encourage them to work with students from other majors on their portfolio web sites and photo shoots.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
A positive attitude. If you have a negative disposition, your chances of getting hired are slim to none. This industry is all about networking, and your attitude could make the difference.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Develop time management skills. I encourage my students to use planners and put themselves on a schedule to practice properly budgeting their time.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My students keep me motivated. If I can inspire them to manage their time and be positive while dealing with the demands of everyday life, I‘ve done my job.