STARKVILLE, Miss.--A Mississippi State alumna who won the 2013 Fashion Week New Orleans Top Design Competition told students that learning both sides of the fashion industry "merchandizing and design" will be a key to success in their careers.
"You need to have a business sense if you want to be successful in fashion," said Ashley Gunkel, who spoke with students during the recent Senior ATM Expo, during which apparel, textiles and merchandizing graduating seniors were recognized for their hard work.
Charles Freeman, an ATM assistant professor, said Gunkel's success, as well as the achievements of current students and other alumni, point to the fact that MSU students are well prepared for the workforce after graduation.
Freeman said students use the same tools the fashion industry employs during the design process, including sewing machines and software.
"When our students head out into the workforce, they're leaving with the skills they need to be competitive," Freeman said.
Phyllis Miller, an ATM professor, pointed to senior Amelia Williams, of Starkville, as an example of a recent student success. Williams recently won first place in the denim category at the Fashion Group International Dallas Career Day, an event that draws between 800-900 student competitors.
Miller said the expo allowed student designers to showcase some of their works, as well as see some of Gunkel's collection that earned her top honors in New Orleans.
She said participating in design competitions during college and afterward is imperative to professional growth and learning.
"It's important that we as faculty members are involved in the same type of competitions that Ashley and Amelia competed in," Miller said. "We know the level of quality and workmanship that is needed to be competitive, not only in contests but the industry as well."