KAMALI'S CALLING

Byline: Anne D'Innocenzio

NEW YORK--When Norma Kamali returned last fall to her alma mater Washington Irving High School here to be inducted into its Hall of Achievement honoring alumni contributions to the arts, she found herself reminiscing about how scared she felt as a senior back in 1963.
"I went back to the same classroom, sat in my old seat, and I looked into the students' eyes," said Kamali, who graduated from the school's Art House, whose curriculum focuses on graphic design, photography and illustration. "I had a sudden flashback. These students were just as nervous as I was when I was a student. The big question: How am I going to make money when I get out? I decided I wanted to help out."
With that, Kamali set up a T-shirt contest in January, with 250 Washington Irving High School students in the Art House participating. The contest has now resulted in a T-shirt business at Citicorp Center that started last month, with students setting up and manning a kiosk to sell their own designs at $25 each. Five dollars goes to subsidizing the cost, while the remainder is evenly distributed among the students and the Art House. The kiosk, which is open seven days a week, will be operated until at least the end of the summer.
"It is such a great way for them to learn about marketing and selling," said Kamali, who was checking out the kiosk earlier this month.
Manning the kiosk that day were Washington Irving students Muhaimin Nor, 17, and Kyshawn Ross, 19. Nor had created a sort of comic-book strip design, while Ross had designed a T-shirt with the slogan: "Racism--everyone loses."
"I'm able to now size up customers as they walk by and come up with certain phrases," said Nor, whose ambition is to work in movie animation.

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