By Paris Adams – 1851 Staff
Lasell students, faculty and alumni gathered in de Witt Hall on for a seminar entitled “Fashion is Alive and Well, and Living at Lasell College” that centered around the current happenings and opportunities in the world of fashion merchandising, and featured a keynote speaker as well as alumni and student panel discussions. The event was primarily organized by Professor Anne Vallely and Department Chair Lynn Blake, who worked to secure the keynote speaker and panelists.
The seminar was a part of the Fashion Department’s “Discovery Day”, a new admissions program inviting prospective students and parents to campus where they can meet with professors and learn about each department. Current Lasell students were also encouraged to attend the seminar for a chance to network with the industry professionals in attendance. The seminar yielded well over 100 attendees, including future Lasell applicants, members of the faculty and current students.
“It was a connected learning opportunity which really fulfills our promise to students when they come to us, and the promise is to have the opportunity to network, and to connect with the industry, in addition to being enriched by their academic experience,” said Blake.
Keynote speaker Barry Zelman spoke on his personal experiences, and how he worked his way up to become the Executive Vice President of Brand and Product Development at TJX Companies Inc. after ten years of service. The executive detailed what each of his various positions taught him, saying “To be a business person, you have to have the right side of the brain and the left side of the brain working.”
Throughout the presentation, Zelman assured the audience that fashion is not “dead,” a common speculation from outside industries. Instead, he spoke about what the industry is currently focusing on, saying “change brings opportunity.” At the end of his presentation, Zelman left the audience with the question: “What’s important to you? If you love it, you’ll be good at it,” before opening it up for discussion.
Students who attended said they had benefitted from the information they learned from all speakers. “During the seminar I found myself compelled and inspired by the speaker,” said senior Gabrielle Beauregard. “It was nice to be able to listen to someone who has a solid ground in the industry and has made his journey through several different companies, learning a different lesson from each.”
The alumni panel featured five graduates of Lasell, all currently working in the industry: Amber Bazdar ’04, Maura Keating ’11, Melinda Ferris ’13, Concetta Nicoloro ‘13, and Tessa Brazel McManus ‘06. These alums hold diverse positions within design, merchandising and management. Each of these women talked about their personal experience both at and beyond Lasell, telling the audience which steps were taken to bring them toward their current positions. The alums credited Lasell’s internship program in gaining experience and securing a job after graduating.
A second panel focused on four current Lasell students different internship experiences, and what is was like actively working in the industry. Seniors Britni Fox, Tessa Dooley, Natalie Rosenbaum, and Julie Young discussed how they found and secured their positions, daily tasks performed and how these opportunities are preparing them for future careers.
The Fashion Department plans to host more “Discovery Days” in the future, as an effort to capture prospective students and enrich the minds of current students.