Earlier this month, I partnered with my collegiate alma mater Parsons School of Design and alternative retail pop up company byReveal to showcase select items of my ethical fashion collection.
Recognized as one of the premiere fashion design schools in the world, Parsons’ list of graduates reads like a whose who of the fashion industry. Designers like Alexander Wang, Donna Karan, Anna Sui, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs and duo Proenza Schouler attended Parsons before their talents turned their names into global fashion brands.
As I foraged my own path to become a designer, I studied the only female fashion designer I knew as a teenager growing up in Indiana- Donna Karan whose bridge label DKNY was my favorite in the early 2000’s. I learned that Karan received her education at Parsons and decided that after securing an economics degree from Spelman College- I would also go to Parsons.
Parsons partnered with by REVEAL, founded by Harvard Design School candidate Megan Berry who started by REVEAL as her graduate architecture thesis. Megan is currently on leave form Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to launch her company. By Reveal was selected as a 2017 Fashion Group International rising star finalist for retail and officially launched in September 2016 at New York Fashion Week.
When asked about the concept behind her company, Berry shares, “We live in a world where we can test, iterate, and showcase instantaneously with technology. We have limitless access to share knowledge and creativity. However, it is difficult to do that in the physical world, with long lead times and high costs for physical experiences. Our REVEALs are mobile, can setup quickly anywhere for a day or a month, and can appear wherever people are: galleries, sidewalks, parks, events, and shopping destinations. Each REVEAL is a capsule vignette, showcasing just a taste of what can be found online or elsewhere. Additionally, each REVEAL is wired for data collection, so emerging designers, brands, retailers, and artists can test and learn more efficiently.”
Considering the current state of the traditional retail environment where shoppers aren’t shopping like they used to, alternative spaces like by REVEAL provide effective ways for fashion brands to reach customers without the overhead of a brick and mortar, and an avenue for Ecommerce brands to get their product in front of customers who want to feel and perhaps try on luxury product before investing in it.
Parsons and by REVEAL showcased the designs of myself and 2014 graduate designer, Amber Groen during alumni day, where alumni are invited to attend a day of scheduled events that reconnect them with one another, faculty and the Parsons executive / board communities.
According to Amy Garawitz, Senior Director Of Alumni Engagement at The New School, Parsons parent institution, “Alumni involvement with their alma mater is vital to every institution of higher education. Engaged alumni provide colleges and universities with knowledge about outcomes, feedback on their programs’ strengths and opportunities for advancement. They help show current students what is possible, and represent the institution to the world. Engagement is crucial in order for colleges and universities to fully and accurately incorporate alumni into the ‘story’ of their institutions.”
The Reveal, which was held at the evening social hour in the concourse of the main New York City campus building, attracted hundreds of alumni who were engaged and excited to touch and ask questions about Amber and I’s work that was on display.
Garawitz adds, “It was an absolutely wonderful addition to the day and provided alumni an ‘insider’ look at two stunning collections. It is always our goal with Alumni Day to provide opportunities that are exclusive to our community and this delivered on all fronts. You and Amber were the ideal representatives for this reveal – your collections are accomplished, sophisticated, and have stories to tell. It was clear that alumni were impressed by both of you, and also proud to be part of a community that claims such talent.”
Connecting with fellow alumni at these kind of events allows entrepreneurs to build a connection with individuals that you already have a strong networking link to: the pride of attending the same school. I met everyone from Ecommerce managers to principals at branding companies, all extremely useful networking contacts for my entrepreneurial path.
You never know where building a strong relationship with your college can lead. Universities often have powerful supporters and friends in the political, entertainment, social good, and entrepreneurial worlds. For example, Parsons just had its annual benefit where Rhianna and Karen Katz (president and chief executive office Neiman Marcus Group) and designer Eileen Fisher were honored.
If you stay in the know with what your school is up to, you may become inspired by an event they are working on and pitch a partnership that is a win-win for both of you. By staying in touch and engaging your school’s faculty you can build a strong relationship with them. That way, when a new opportunity arises, you may be the on their short list for collaboration.
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When I’m operating from my Right Brain, I’m:
- Color Sensitive
- Music-Loving (Can’t Function Without It)
- Up All Night Creating
- Make A Lot Of Spelling Errors
- Forget To Reply To Emails
- Would Forget To Pay Bills If I didn’t Have An Alarm Set To Remind Me
- All Over The Place (Mentally, Physically & Emotionally)
- Warm & Gregarious
- Sensitive & Emotional
- My Physical Space is A Mess
- Just As Likely To Take The Day Off And Watch YouTube All Day
I’ve also noticed that my creative team (branding, designers) respond better when I’m operating from this playful tone.
When I’m operating from my Left Brain, I’m:
- Love Crunching Numbers
- Can Only Listen To Classical Music, Everything Else Is Too Distracting
- I’m Always Intuitive But In This State I Try To Shut It Off
- Early To Bed And Early To Rise
- Read Copy Five Times For Spelling Errors
- On Top Of My Bills and Emails
- Planning Ahead
- Stern & Cold
- My Physical Space Is Organized
- Analytical, Preferring Intellect over Emotions
- My Work-a-holic Tendencies Are On 100
I’ve also noticed that my my analysis teams (legal, investors, accounting) respond better to me when I operate from this serious tone.
If you want to become more balanced in your approach to life-by becoming more creative/expressive/musical or becoming more analytical/disciplined/ numerical, here are some tips to build muscle on the other side of your brain.
Creatives, To Develop Your Left-Brian
Get Up Earlier- Left brainers are notoriously early risers and right brainers stay up late working or waiting for their creative juices to wind down. Get up at 6am. Drink a coffee/tea, go do yoga/ workout, and get things done. Go to bed by 10pm. Then do it again, for a week. Then build that into your routine once a month.
Learn Excel / Take A Quick Books Class- Nothing will get you more comfortable with numbers than getting over your fear of mathematical software. Be patient with learning it, but tackle it. It will give you a major boost in left-brained confidence!
Work With Lawyers- Having to read, comprehend and discuss 24 page legal documents will switch you over to the left-brain really quickly. A lot of artists get cheated out of money because they don’t fully comprehend or even read the contracts they sign. Flex your left brain!
Create A Daily To-Do List And Get Everything On It Done- My to-do list is massive but keeps me completely sane. Create one for the day and week, prioritize what is most important to execute first, and commit to getting it all done. And while you’re at it, create alarms in your phone to remind you to pay your bills ahead of time. Or put all your bills on auto-pay. Pay more than the minimum payment.
Analyzers, To Develop Your Right Brian
Take A Creative Class- Learning creativity (writing, cooking, painting, drawing) will help open up the colorful pathways in your brain. You can also do this by coloring/ painting/ cooking with your kids.
Put On Really Bad Top 40’s Pop Music- And sing really loud to it. Because I know you know the words. Stop acting like you don’t! Break out of conformity and rigidity and get comfortable belting out music… off key. Let yourself go. And here’s the hard part… let your neighbors/ family hear you. I feel that few things switch me over to my right brain like fun music.
Sleep In- No better yet- stay in bed all day. Get your Netflix password ready, grab take out menus of your favorite delivery spots, put on your favorite pajamas and grab your pillows and comforters. Then do nothing but sleep, eat, and watch your smart TV all day. Take it on as an assignment if that makes you feel better about doing nothing.
Forget Your To Do List- Wake up one weekend with zero plans. Go wherever the wind takes you. If there is a neighborhood in your city you have always wanted to explore go there. Eat alone at a restaurant you have always wanted to go to. Visit the botanical garden, take a nap in the park. Flex your right brain muscle and go wherever it takes you.
Buy A Really Colorful Outfit, Shirt Or Tie- Then wear it to work. Smile when everyone does a double take.
Autumn Adeigbo is an ethical fashion advocate, and the founder and Creative Director of eponymous fashion label AutumnAdeigbo.com.