Sheena Gao

Fashion Marketing & Management

Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing Instructor
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

Online Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing Instructor Sheena Gao

Like any creative field, the fashion industry is highly dynamic. Be comfortable with yourself and be flexible with change. Ride the creative wave. Sheena Gao , Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing Instructor
, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

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

There were many moments…the first time I saw the world as a child. The first time I picked up a colored pencil to draw the sun. Seeing my parents’ architecture designs. Being awed by the images of National Geographic and mesmerized by the sound of a symphony. I never doubted my passion for creativity.

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

Rather than relying just on traditional lecture, I try to bring real-life scenarios and challenges into the classroom to help students get a well-rounded understanding of the creative process. They not only gain the knowledge of the subject, but also gain industry-relevant experience. It’s an interactive experience that’s a fun and effective way to learn.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I believe in learning by doing. I teach a fashion class called Research and Sourcing Fundamentals. I send students to the garment district after they complete their research, so they can have their designs made by one of the manufactures after all criteria are met. It’s scary for students to go face-to-face with garment industry professionals, but the process gives students the confidence having real-world knowledge. They not only learn the theory, they understand critical things like timeline and communication challenges, quality control, cost control, and specification accuracy.

What are the benefits of teaching an online course?

It allows me to share my industry experience and expertise with students across the nation.

What are the benefits of an online education for students?

Working online gives anyone who wants to pursue a higher education the flexibility to do so in the comfort of their own home and on their own schedule.

What are the most student-friendly features of an online education?

Online classes encourage students to think and learn independently, and give them the freedom to explore their creative spirit. Those students not only learn the course material, they develop more complex problem-solving skills.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

We never work in vacuum in the fashion industry; we work with people from many backgrounds. Most of my classes feature team collaboration projects where students learn to work as a team, when to compromise, how to communicate with team members, to put aside their egos to achieve a team goal. It’s all about keeping your eye on the big picture, and it’s key to being successful the profession.

What’s your one piece of advice for a student embarking on a creative career?

Like any creative field, the fashion industry is highly dynamic. Be comfortable with yourself and be flexible with change. Ride the creative wave.