Collectively, the Fashion Business Essentials student advisory board members are bright, ambitious, focused and career-minded. They also share another quality: They all are at different points in their career journeys and all hail from different corners of the fashion industry. There are seasoned merchandisers and designers on the board as well as a fashion journalist and a student just getting started with her career.
In a recent WWD roundtable session with the board, which is comprised of participants enrolled in the Parsons x WWD Fashion Business Essentials online program hosted by Yellowbrick, the students shared why they enrolled in the program as well as where their careers will take them next. The advisers were Caroline Hill, Chloe Salazar, Jocelyn Blake, Luis Ortiz, Shelby Spurlin and Princeton Faure.
Several of the board members had enrolled in prior courses, including Fashion Industry Essentials and Streetwear Essentials — all on the Yellowbrick platform. For Fashion Business Essentials, which is comprised of five modules and can be found here, the board described it as informative and eye-opening and said it will likely give them a competitive edge in the market.
Oritz said what he learned in Fashion Business Essentials is being coupled with what he took away from Streetwear Essentials to help bolster his business acumen as he seeks out new manufacturers for his streetwear brand. “The Streetwear Essentials course helped me a lot in molding my brand while the Fashion Business Essentials course has made me more business savvy — and it’s been incredible,” Ortiz said.
Interestingly, both Ortiz and Faure were enrolled in Yellowbrick Essentials courses during the peak pandemic period. Being in lockdown, for many, served as a moment to reset one’s priorities. People enrolled in online courses, reimagined their careers and pursued their dreams.
Faure described himself as a freestyle designer, but said he had temporarily lost his job during the COVID-19 outbreak. He took the Streetwear Essentials course, which then led him to Fashion Business Essentials, “which has, honestly, cleaned up my branding even more because it’s keeping me on the right side of the legal issues. That was something that I never was really open to. I was just doing freestyle and then kind of just putting things out there. But now I’m learning more about licensees and branding, and knowing how to present your brand to the market in more of a business manner rather than just in an entrepreneurial way.”
For Blake, as a journalist, Fashion Business Essentials and Fashion Industry Essentials were ways to bolster her knowledge of fashion. “For me, it was wanting to write from a place of actually knowing what I’m talking about, right?” she explained. “Not just talking about trends and pitch decks and manufacturing, but just actually knowing what’s involved instead of just researching things and then finding it out. So, it’s been really good for me. Even in my writing now, I can see a difference in when I’m trend forecasting. I can see the difference between before I’ve taken both courses compared to now because I just feel more comfortable in what I’m saying and I feel like I’m really confident in my words.”
Salazar had wanted to elevate her career in merchandising. But when she lost her job, Salazar searched out content on YouTube as a way to build her knowledge. She soon realized there wasn’t a lot of good content out there, so she enrolled in Fashion Industry Essentials, and then Fashion Business Essentials.
“I thought that the Fashion Business Essentials was really great because I loved how much information there was,” she said. “There were certain modules that were so jam-packed, I was, like, ‘Wow.’ There were things that I didn’t even know before, and I thought it was just great insight for people who want to get into the industry, whether merchandising or not, because I learned so much from that course.”
For Spurlin, she had been enrolled in the master’s in fashion management program at Parson’s, “so when the opportunity to take this Fashion Business Essentials course presented itself, I thought it would be kind of the perfect segue into my master’s program,” she said. “Just learning about all of the terminologies and also learning from actual Parsons staff and industry leaders was valuable. It turned out to be a perfect pre-course for the larger master’s program.”
Hill said going into the course, “I only knew design. I have no knowledge on the business side of fashion and I’m a really independent person. My end goal would be to have some sort of entrepreneurial job or own my own business, which I can’t achieve without the business side of it.”
Hill said the business foundation coursework presented in Fashion Business Essentials was exactly what she needed. “I knew nothing going into it and I came out with a lot of new knowledge.” As a college student, Hill said the course also “gives me a little edge going into school.”
The advisory board also agreed that the relevancy of the content of Fashion Business Essentials is what sets it apart. From branding and storytelling in marketing to sourcing and e-commerce, the students said the course was up-to-date, insightful and, no pun intended, essential.