Baylor Students Find Fashionable Internships

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July 21, 2006

by Julie Carlson, (254) 710-6681

Author Lauren Weisberger introduced readers to the world of fashion in her book "The Devil Wears Prada." This summer, some Baylor fashion merchandising students also are learning the ins and outs of New York City's fashion game, but unlike Weisberger's heroine Andrea Sachs, they are loving the life.

Haley Powell, a senior from Grapevine, Texas, is busy interning with both the Globe Showroom and at Mint designs. She snared her internships by using her Baylor contacts - Kasey Kahler, an alumnus who works at the Globe, and Jodi Arnold, an alumna and the creative force behind Mint.

"Mint is a pretty small company, and everyone works together so I get to be around Jodi most of the time. She's a very cool person to work with," Powell said.

Mint may be small, but Arnold's designs are often featured in "Lucky" magazine and are worn by Katie Holmes, Kirsten Dunst and Cameron Diaz.

At Mint, Powell does a little of everything, from running errands, to helping with inventory to putting together production bags. At the Globe, she has some set showroom tasks, such as sending out and checking in press samples, notifying stores of cancelled styles, issuing return authorizations and entering orders. She said a typical day at work is not always exciting but is always fun.

"At Mint it is exciting to see the designs go from sketches, to samples, to the showroom to the stores. The whole production process is very complicated, but interesting and necessary to know about," Powell said. "At the Globe, it's very interesting to sit in on the sales meetings with the buyers from Bergdorf, Barney's and Bloomingdale's. These stores are so powerful and have large open-to-buys, so it is interesting to see how they spend their money."

Nicole Fralick from Katy, Texas, also is in New York this summer working with Isabella Fiore, a contemporary handbag line. And like Powell, a Baylor alumna helped her find the internship.

"A Baylor alum, who works for Isabella Fiore, sent a notice to the fashion merchandising department that they were in need of an intern. I sent my resúmé and a few days later I had a phone interview and was hired," Fralick said.

At the handbag showroom, she works on everything from answering the phones to helping with sales reports to working with accounts during market.

"The most exciting part of this internship will be working market at ENK, which is the major accessories show in New York," Fralick said.

Both girls believe their Baylor education has prepared them well for the internships.

"I am familiar with a lot of terminology that they use in the industry, and I understand forecasting and trend analysis, which I've also learned through many of my projects at Baylor," Fralick said. "The Baylor fashion department has done such a wonderful job of exposing us to many aspects of the industry. Even if I did not fully understand a concept during my internship I had heard of it in class."

Powell agrees. "Most of the terms that I need to know at the showroom have been taught to me at one time or another at school. My knowledge of textiles has helped me tremendously at the design studio, because I'm able to easily identify fabrics and finishes," she said.

An internship is required for a degree in fashion merchandising. Other students are interning this summer at Betsy Johnson designs in New York, Thrive designs in West Hollywood, Rachel Abrams handbags in Los Angeles, Brighton Accessories in Dallas and L.A., and "Project Runway" winner Chloe Dao in Houston.

Dr. Judith Lusk, professor of family and consumer sciences at Baylor, said the internships help the students really see how the industry functions.

"They can apply some of their classroom knowledge in the work environment, and can learn to be evaluated by someone other than their professors. They also can experience how intense this work environment can be."

The fast pace hasn't intimidated Fralick or Powell. And both think working in a showroom would be an ideal job.

"Before my internship, I wanted to be a buyer," Powell said. "Now that I've experienced life in a showroom, I would love to do that. The fashion industry is fast-paced and not nearly as glamorous as people think, but it's something I want to be a part of."

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