COOKEVILLE – Students in Tennessee Tech’s Fashion Merchandising Association spent the first week in April in Los Angeles where they received real world experiences in the field of merchandising and design.
The Merchandising Association helps cultivate students’ experiences of merchandising and design through traveling, networking, and events production.
“It was a good chance to get an inside look at the careers,” said Chloe Land, a freshman merchandising and design major from Springfield. “I loved visiting the California Market Center. There was a lot of energy there.”
The California Market Center is the hub of LA’s fashion and creative communities. The 1.8-million-square-foot complex has fashion showrooms, creative offices, event venues and businesses catering to downtown LA community, including eateries, specialty shops, fitness studio and more.
“We got to see how markets for buyers were set up and learned how a showroom functions,” Land said.
Career opportunities in merchandising and design include positions in management, merchandise buyer, sales representative, shopper/stylist, fashion coordinator, textile researcher, fashion designer and many others.
This was the first trip with the group for Olivia Gragg, junior fashion merchandising major from Cookeville.
“I really enjoyed visiting the Park Showroom,” she said.
The Park Showroom is a multi-line wholesale agency specializing in men’s and women’s contemporary and streetwear fashion and lifestyle industry.
Gragg spent a year in LA prior to this visit, but this trip gave her a different view of the city.
“I could see myself working at the Park Showroom one day,” she said.
This is the second year Hannah Upole, assistant professor in the school of human ecology where the merchandising and design program is, has taken students in Tech’s FMA on study trips.
“I encourage the students to learn anything and everything,” Upole said. “I always ask them to go into each experience with an open mind and to ask themselves, ‘How could this impact my future in the industry?’ I encourage them to ask as many questions as possible, from internship opportunities to career advice, as these trips provide them with real world knowledge.”
Students are also encouraged to explore the city to learn about the culture and history.
“For many of my students this is their first time visiting a major city so experiences like riding the subway or watching a play provides them with a chance to learn more about the culture in a specific location,” Upole said.
For Jacob Williams, a senior housing and design student from Tullahoma, this trip gave him insight into how his career path and fashion merchandising go hand-in-hand.
“Even though I’m not a fashion merchandising major, I made a lot of connections on this trip,” he said.
The former mechanical engineering major managed to score an internship with an architect while on the trip.
“It’s fascinating to see how fashion merchandising and housing and design go together,” he said.
While in LA, the students toured Warner Bros. studios, a favorite destination for a few of those students.
“It was interesting seeing how they transform many things,” said Victoria Stafford, a senior fashion merchandising major from Nashville.
Next spring, the students will have the opportunity to go international on a two-week tour of Italy, France and possibly Amsterdam.
“My major goal in planning these trips is to provide the students with unique, personal experiences,” Upole said. “I always look for at least two to three designers who can meet with the students individually in their studios so the students have the opportunity to see the entire process of design. I also look for historical experiences, such as meeting with museum curators or costume designers to learn about how the past influences the future of design. I also look for at least one or two cultural experiences, such as watching a Broadway play or visiting an art gallery. These experiences provide a look at the culture of the city we are visiting, allowing them to see how culture and society can influence design.”