Before attending SPU I was struggling with what path I wanted to take in life. I was actually set to go to nursing school, but something in my gut was telling me otherwise. It wasn’t until I looked deeper within myself and my faith that I finally understood what my calling was—Apparel Design and Merchandising. Though, it is the complete opposite of what a nursing degree would have brought, I felt and now know that my purpose in life is to bring confidence and light to others around me in a way that genuinely makes me happy. It wasn’t easy making this life-changing decision, but I owe it to my family and friends for encouraging me to continue onto this new journey. It has taken many, many failed ideas and attempts to finally be at a place I find peaceful and I honestly do not think I would have as big of a heart as I do now had I not chosen to attend SPU and be surrounded by the amount of love and care from my faculty and peers. Being a part of a community that cultivates love, acceptance, and (good) change helped mold me into the person I am today. The amount of gratitude I have for this educational experience at SPU is more than words can explain.
Reina currently owns her own internationally recognized children’s clothing line based out of Seattle, même. kidswear. même.gives back to local, seattle-based non-profit, Art With Heart, an organization that helps children overcome trauma through creative expression.
My story is a bit different from others. I have always had a passion for fashion, as most say, however I never knew how to apply it and make it a career. During high school teachers and counselors ask you “what do you want to do when you grow up?” It sounds like a silly question but it is true. How do you take an interest like fashion and have people take you seriously enough to believe that you can make it into a grown up career? The truth is; I really wasn’t sure. That is until I came to SPU as a transfer student.
I transferred to Seattle Pacific University with junior status after transferring between three other schools including a very large public university, community college and a smaller public university. I had been studying a variety of subjects trying to figure out what I wanted to major in. To put it simply, I couldn’t find something that I was passionate about. It wasn’t until I took a few art and anthropology classes that I realized I had known all along what I loved and wanted to do, I just needed to believe in myself and make it happen. As soon as I walked onto the SPU campus and talked with a few professors I knew I had found where I belonged. SPU provided not only Apparel Design program, but also a Fashion Merchandising program. Fashion, to me, is not just designing and wearing clothes; it is culture, art, diverse experiences and understanding people and interactions. Selecting Fashion Merchandising was the perfect choice for me because it allowed me the opportunity to combine not only the art and design side of fashion, but also the business and relationship building side of fashion.
During my time on campus I worked closely with other students and my professors and became the Public Relations Officer of the Fashion Club where I was able to plan and participate in two fashion shows on campus. The experience that I gained at SPU was more than I could have ever asked for. Not only did my experience prepare me for several amazing opportunities such as a Visual Merchandising internship with Anthropologie, a Sales and Leadership internship with Nordstrom, and the opportunity to work with Luly Yang and her team during one of her fashion shows; but most importantly my knowledge and hard work allowed me to do what I loved and was passionate about.
After graduating I wanted to experience a new market in merchandising. So I moved to San Francisco and was hired on with Pottery Barn Kids as part of their Ecommerce Merchandising team. Since then I have focused more on the interactive and relationship side of fashion and want to continue in that direction. I have many goals for my life and career and I know it was because of the relationships that I built with my professors and fellow students, my dedication and persistence and drive to be successful that I was able to thrive at SPU and take my passion and develop it into something that I love doing.
Growing up, I was always encouraged to pursue my passions. My parents were strong believers that if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. I was blessed to find my passion at an early age and with the support of my friends and family, I was continually encouraged to follow my aspirations. The beauty I found in art engulfed my life and inspired my heart to pursue a life in fashion. I had very specific goals for my future and although they were not easy to attain I wouldn’t take no for an answer.
It felt too good to be true when I discovered SPU. They provided small class sizes which made it easy to create a close bond with my professors. Not only were they able to help me build the skills I would need to excel in the fashion industry, but they were a great source of encouragement and support. The apparel design program offered classes that made me feel confident in my skill set and set me up for easy transition into my professional career. More importantly, I learned how to apply what I had learned in school to my faith and how my role as a Christian can play an important part in my vocation as well.
Through the wonderful resources at SPU I was able to apply for an internship with SanMar, a national clothing supplier. Within three months of graduation I was hired on permanently as the Assistant Technical Designer where I get to do exactly what I love. SPU was instrumental in my success and for that I am forever grateful. Coming to SPU was a big step in an uncertain direction, but I found comfort in knowing it would be an investment in myself and a healthy future. Like Alan Alda once said, “You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself”.
Coco Chanel once said, “Be sure what you want and be sure about yourself. Fashion is not just beauty, it’s about good attitude. You have to believe in yourself and be strong.” Fashion has become part of my outlook on life. I found a greater purpose for fashion that is absent of the superficial outlook that most people perceive it to have. As Coco Chanel points out, it is so much more than what is on the outside. Fashion helps mold you into the person you want to be inside. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing or how much it costs, it matters how your clothes inspire you to be a better, more confident person. It was always a challenge for me while attending college, to defend myself and my choices to study marketing and fashion merchandising at a Christian college. But to be completely blunt, why study anywhere else? Seattle Pacific University taught me that there is a place for Christians in these fields, and although marketing and fashion merchandising have a reputation for being superficial and deceitful, there is actually a whole other side that is overlooked by the public eye. SPU taught me to dig deeper and fight the general public opinion by showing what the world of fashion can really contribute to the world: confidence, inspiration, and self-admiration.
SPU prepared me for the fast-paced, ever-changing world of fashion more than I could have ever known. Right after college I was offered an internship at my dream company, Nordstrom, and experienced life as a sales person... with some added benefits. As a Nordstrom intern I was able to experience all the different facets of the company. I had the pleasure of taking leadership courses every week, attend multiple designer previews for the upcoming season, and work back stage at the Annual Nordstrom Fashion Show. It was everything I could have hoped for. After the internship, I had proven myself as a sales person and was offered a position on the Nordstrom team. I worked at the Alderwood Mall Nordstrom for about a year before deciding I needed a change of pace and scenery. I transferred to the downtown Seattle Nordstrom Rack during its grand opening at its new location. Needless to say, it was too much of a change of pace and I began interviewing for Buying Office Assistant positions in the corporate offices in order to utilize my skills in merchandising and business. After 3 months of interviews I was finally offered a position in the TBD Buying Office and I am enjoying every minute of it.
SPU has been a very integral part of my success within my post-college experience. Not only did my education give me peace of mind with my choice in career, it gave me the confidence to go after positions that were highly competitive and challenging. I feel confident in my skills and abilities to provide the company with high quality work. Everything I have learned in my business and merchandising courses makes sense on a whole new level; professionalism, merchandising systems, and business concepts all came together and aided me in doing a good job in my field. In addition, Seattle Pacific prepared me for so much more than the corporate world. It prepared me for all the ethical challenges and faith related issues that manifest themselves in everyday life. SPU taught me how to deal with those issues so I could sustain a healthy and balanced work-life relationship.
Although I am in the earliest stages of my career and have many goals for my future within the fashion industry, I feel as though God has led me to this position for a reason. I feel as though I was placed in this career in order to make a difference and to show my dedication and commitment to help people find confidence, self-admiration, and inspiration within themselves and the world. I have so much gratitude for Seattle Pacific and all the professors who inspired me and worked hard to teach me everything I know today. I could not have made it this far without my education and all the wonderful supporters who taught me to believe in myself.
A passion for fashion fused with philanthropy--my hope is to combine the creative arts while making a difference. This perspective was intertwined with and motivated by my studies at Seattle Pacific University; through my studies I was encouraged to live with eyes wide open--to engage the culture and change the world.
I was at first tentative to choose apparel design as my area of focus, as fashion can be a seemingly shallow industry; but SPU affirmed my hunch that there is more to it than meets the eye. I was constantly inspired through the support and opportunity presented to me while attending SPU. Dr Jaeil Lee, head of the Apparel Design and Merchandising department, always used the words, “Go for it....You’ve got it”. She encouraged me to take on anything I set my mind to--to dive in and serve God through my passions.
The well-rounded education within the Family and Consumer Sciences department, as well as the liberal arts education--studying philosophy, theology, science, art, and English--deepened my understanding and inspired my creativity that much further. I left SPU with a strong education and remain connected still knowing I have a genuine support system--that is rare!”
While attending school, I was motivated to make a difference in my hometown and founded a fashion show in 2007, raising $6500 for New Horizons of Seattle and Rod’s house of Yakima. The event is now an annual production. I also collaborated with the YWCA of Yakima Valley to provide a makeover day for four deserving women. My sophomore year, I was surprised and honored with Rotary’s Unsung Hero Award.
While attending SPU, I was asked to compete in Seattle’s top student designer competition Project Red Dress. My involvement also included leadership in Fashion Group--coordinating the 2nd annual fashion show (following Heather Cozad’s leadership) and producing the first annual student-led photo shoot--receiving Club of the Year for 2010. My senior year ended with a strong finish. With my professors’ support and encouragement, I was awarded the opportunity to study in London, England on a competitive Fashion Design scholarship through the International Textile and Apparel Association.
I am very thankful for my experience at SPU--thankful for a foundation beneath my feet and a lens of perspective in my eyes.
Read more about Carlynne’s combination of fashion and service while attending SPU in the ETC Magazine. Her latest adventures in her pursuits to “cmor” in fashion are posted on www.carlynnemorrison.com.
The Apparel Design and Merchandising program at Seattle Pacific University played an integral part in the development of not only my skills in Fashion Merchandising Management but also carved the path for the most invaluable experiences of my life thus far. I was immediately drawn to the Clothing & Textiles program at SPU for the numerous opportunities available in gaining firsthand industry experience through immersion in varied cultures and external educational programs. During my time at SPU, I took advantage of a study abroad opportunity with the American Intercontinental University to attend courses in fashion styling and trend forecasting in Paris, France. This was the opportunity of a lifetime with wonderful exposure to the French fashion culture as well as intense hands on training in fashion styling through a number of applicable mediums.
In addition, I was blessed to be accepted into the liaison program with the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City for my senior year. Through this program, I was able to enroll in courses specific to my interests and offered placement into top level companies for internships and continued development. This program also allowed me to complete my Bachelor’s degree with SPU while also earning a one-year AA degree at FIT in Fashion Merchandising Management. Through my attendance at FIT, I was able to obtain an internship in special events with Vogue magazine, which ultimately led to full time positions post graduation with Condé Nast Traveler and GQ magazine in advertising and marketing. Immediately following graduation, I worked for a NYC based apparel company where I developed their first ecommerce store to build direct to consumer marketing while generating high volume sales. Most recently, I was hired as the Global Marketing Manager for Donna Karan International where I gained additional experience in ideating and executing special events for the purpose of strengthening global wholesale partnerships.
After over four years in New York City, I felt God leading me back to California where I am currently utilizing the breadth of my experience to pursue a start up company in wardrobe consulting and fashion styling. God used SPU and the Apparel Design and Merchandising program in unimaginable ways and upon graduation, I had received experiences and opportunities beyond anything I could have obtained without the preparation and support of SPU.
Heather Cozad, who graduated cum laude with a degree in textiles and clothing, spearheaded an unusual student-designed fundraising fashion show. Heather explains how the project developed.
"I took a political science class called 'International Peace and World Order,' which helped me realize how interconnected fashion is with globalization, social issues, and cultural identity. Part of the class was to create a project that related to the subject of the class. I decided to put together a fashion show to illustrate this concept. It took many months of brainstorming, collaboration, and research to the get the project going. Our final idea for the event was to show the roles, both positive and negative, that fashion plays in our lives through a show consisting of borrowed costumes, original student designs, music, and a video presentation. We showcased four collections: "Fashion as Military Power and Oppression," "Fashion as Environment," "Fashion as Cultural and Religious," and "Fashion as Social Justice." We titled the show 'Gas Masks, Stilettos, and Designer Jeans: A Story of Fashion and Our Lives.'
I discovered that to hold an event on campus, it's necessary to have campus support. After some initial roadblocks, I finally sold the idea to the head of the department, under the condition that it would be completely student-driven and a fundraiser for local nonprofit agencies. Through an opportunity to be a part of "Project Red Dress," (Seattle's version of Project Runway), I made connections with Seattle's industry association, the Fashion Group International (FGI). I took the fashion show idea and plan for implementation to a meeting with the board of FGI, and they decided to sponsor us for $2,000. This was a large enough sum to cover all the costs of the event. This meant we could donate all of the proceeds from the entry fees, raffles, and a percentage from vendor sales to our chosen charities, YWCA's Dress for Success and the Queen Anne Helpline.
With a team of 12 dedicated students, the help of campus clubs Fashion Group and Sophia, the show turned out a great success and we raised $1,400 for charity. The whole thing was a difficult task to pull together. I questioned my sanity on multiple occasions as to why I took this on, with a full class schedule, working, and being in the Air Force Reserves, but I had an overwhelming sense that this was something I needed to do. The results were completely worth it."
Heather is currently pursuing a commission with the Air Force Reserves in the international affairs department. She is also looking for a fashion-related job with either a sustainable or fair trade emphasis, as well as developing her own line of clothing and accessories created from recycled materials.
My dream to swathe women in beautifully cut designs began as a sophomore in high school. I had always been artsy and in love with God’s artistic creations, but it was at this time in my life that I started to appreciate the marvelous intricacies and complexities of the human form. I wanted to highlight and complement with clothing this greatest of God’s designs – us!
My education at SPU was instrumental in developing a skill set to reach my goals of becoming a well-rounded fashion designer. Resources upon resources were available to satisfy my hunger for knowledge. The fashion program itself opened my eyes to the unique role clothing plays in our lives – its ability to express and meet emotional, cultural, social, and physical needs and associations. My skill set grew exponentially as I studied pattern drafting, draping, illustration, and apparel construction. I gleaned business information from apparel industry classes and my business minor. My mind was wrapped around the cyclical nature of fashion through study of the industry’s history. Most importantly, however, I came to see that fashion was a calling God had placed on my life. In a culture fraught with eating disorders, obsession with appearance, and self-esteem issues, now more than ever the fashion industry needs Christian designers who value and serve the inherent beauty and diversity of the human form. Nature speaks of the Creator’s love for variety. As a designer, I seek to follow in the original Designer’s footsteps and serve the variety of people He created.
I cannot speak highly enough of SPU’s fashion program and faculty. A professor closely familiar with my work was the catalyst launching me into the technical design area of the industry. She introduced me to the area in her class, Apparel Production. I discovered in this class that determining and delineating a garment’s construction and fit satisfied my desire to problem solve and meet the wearer’s needs. She saw in me the talent necessary to be a technical designer, and encouraged me to pursue the career. It is because of her mentoring that I am the technical designer I am today!
My time at SPU was a remarkable journey, a remarkable journey that readied me for an even more incredible future. My utmost thanks to the University for preparing me for the next stage of God’s wonderful plan!
Angela is currently an Assistant Technical Designer in Women’s Sweaters for Nordstrom, Seattle WA.
In my junior year of high school I debated back and forth what major God would want me to pursue in college. The typical ones I thought of were English, Nursing, Education, maybe Art, however God had other plans in mind. After taking a six-week fashion course at a local art college, I realized that God was calling me into the fashion industry. It was not what I would have picked for myself, but the Spirit's call to using me in the fashion industry was undeniable. Not only did the Lord lead me into fashion, but He opened the door for me to attend fashion school in San Francisco.
After completing my two years of study, I realized that God wanted me to continue my education. I researched numerous Christian universities and colleges, but found it challenging, if not impossible, to find a fashion program. At the time, SPU was the only Christian university I could find with a four-year degree program in Fashion Merchandising within the United States. I prayed about it, applied, got accepted, and before long I was moving to Washington!
My two years at SPU were amazing. God really used this time to stimulate growth and maturity in all areas of my life. In Family and Consumer Sciences, we talked about serving the three basic needs of humans for food, clothing, and shelter and certainly fashion fits into the mix! Through courses such as Apparel Production Systems and Apparel Design Through Draping I learned the technical skills of fashion and how garments are designed, constructed, and produced. During these courses, we would often get into discussions regarding ethical business practice and what our role as Christians should be in fashion. One of my most favorite classes was Appearance and Human Behavior where we discussed the world's perspective on beauty, fashion, and appearance versus the Christian perspective. A holistic education is what I greatly gained from being in a Family & Consumer Sciences major and I would highly recommend either the Apparel Design or Fashion Merchandising program to anyone who feels called to fashion.
Throughout all of my courses, I learned that God wants to use Christians to be His representatives in ALL fields, not just in Science or Education, but in industries like Film, Photography, Fashion, and Interior Design. I believe, now more than ever, that in this day and age there is a need for Christians to get involved in these areas of our culture, showing Christ's love to a world in desperate need. I am so glad that I followed through with the calling God placed on my life, because His will is always perfect in the end!
Joy is currently working as Assistant Merchandising Product Manager at Athleta Inc. in Petaluma, California.
The layout of the apparel design degree is remarkable because it ties in all aspects of fashion, not only designing, and prepares you for a wide range of careers in the fashion design world. During my years at SPU I learned so much more than the basics of sewing and drawing – I gained a foundation of understanding about how fashion affects the individual and the community, and how we as Christians can use our faith and have a hand in shaping our community through fashion. With the encouragement and support of my professors I was able to further pursue my interest in fashion at FIT in New York, which increased my knowledge in fashion and helped me obtain a career in the fashion world.
I am currently an Associate Designer for Saltaire, LLC, a small men's resort/sportswear line. I design the woven shirts, sweaters, and outerwear categories, which encompasses everything from sketching the initial design – first by hand and then on the computer – sourcing fabrics and trims, creating specs for the garments, and closely monitoring the garment from its initial stage all the way through to production. This job I has given opportunity to travel to Hong Kong several times, where I have met with the company's Hong Kong team and executives, met face-to-face with vendors and worked with the factories that produce our garments. I enjoy the creative challenge and fast pace of the fashion world.
Megan Hitz '04 may have grown up on a farm in rural Oregon, but you'd never know it. After studying apparel design at SPU, Hitz hit the streets of New York City and landed a position at Ralph Lauren. In two short years, she's already been promoted to associate children's wear designer. "Moving to New York City was definitely one of the biggest risks I have ever taken," says Hitz. "I really can't explain how I made it here, but I know that God has been leading me every step of this crazy adventure." Although she was drawn to Seattle Pacific University's many degree programs in design, she wasn't sure what she would pursue. But, says Hitz, "it just kept coming back to fashion." She believes SPU gave her a strong technical background in textiles and construction, but most importantly, the experience taught her a lot about herself. "I came to see and understand my skills, my need to be creative, and my drive to make it happen. That's when everything clicked for me." Two awesome internships didn't hurt either — one with Crystalyn B., a handbag designer, and one with Luly Yang, a couture bridal and eveningwear designer. Exerpt from SPU's 'ETC' Magazine - to read more click here (PDF).