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How Business and Creativity go hand-in-hand with Fashion Business Management


Believe it or not, sometimes you don’t have to choose between art and a stable career. If you’re taking Fashion Business Management, you can have it both ways. In this program, you learn about the business of making and selling fashion, for a career in creating glamorous looks. And because the best way to learn is through experience, students of the program practice their career through special projects that see them using their skills to design and manufacture real products. For one recent project, Fashion Business students were split into groups, and tasked with sourcing designs for a pencil case (in collaboration with Centennial design students), as well as finding a company to manufacture it for them. Shannon Kelly was a part of the team whose pencil case made its way into production and is available now at our campus store. Here’s how she got into the program, what she learned, and how it will lead her to success.

Getting the best of both worlds

 “I’ve always been really interested in the fashion industry from a young age, just dressing up in outfits and Halloween costumes,” Shannon says. “I’ve also been fascinated with Vogue and these magazines and editorials and the creative side of it.”

Despite her love for fashion, Shannon was instead looking for a more practical career and didn’t think the two could cross over.

“I really wanted to pursue a business diploma, and I never thought of fashion as an actual career I’d pursue,” she adds. “I always thought of it as a side hobby that I enjoyed, but I started doing some research, and when I searched fashion programs in Toronto, Centennial was the one that came up.”

Practical Experience

“In our first semester, we worked on developing our own clothing line,” Shannon says, as an example of the kind of practical experience Fashion Business gave her. “We started with the idea of what kind of clothing we wanted to make, who’s our target consumer, and doing all of the nitty-gritty research for how we wanted to create our brand and clothing, and then we created it using software like Illustrator. This specific project carried over through all the different classes, from designing a line, creating a storefront for it, creating a website for it, doing all the market research, and sourcing research, and the finance side of it as well. Really, it shows you how to take something from an idea to actually putting it out into the world.”

It’s not all business, though, as the program still lets her explore her creative side.

“Even though the program is more focused on the business side of the industry, I do find that it really dipped into the design aspect as well, which is something I really appreciated and enjoyed,” Shannon says. “I really loved learning Adobe Creative Cloud and Illustrator, and even though I’m not a graphic design student or anything like that, I’ve really taken a liking to the graphic design aspects.”

The Pencil Case Project

All of Shannon’s skills would be called upon for her capstone project with her team: Designing and sourcing the manufacturing of a new pencil case. Their results, along with those of the other teams, would be presented to a panel of judges, who’d pick a winning concept to proceed into production. Her team’s concept was chosen by the team of instructors and industry professionals thanks to its good design, affordable price, and ethically-sourced materials and manufacturing.

 “We worked as a group together from the beginning stages of it,” Shannon explains. “To work with the students in the graphic design program at the Story Arts Centre, to present it to the panel of judges. When we had the winning design, I took on the lead in the project. We carried it over the summer, and worked with my professor and the Business School.”

After the win, it was time for the next phase of work: Making the case a reality.

“I was in contact with our supplier in China on almost a daily basis,” she says, “getting the specifics and creating the technical packs for the pencil case, making sure that they had all the specifications and all of the digital files, and then going back and working with the graphic design artist to make tweaks to the design.”

One of those changes was for the sake of environmental sustainability, deciding to change the pencil case’s main material from leather to fabric. After all that work, though, it’s finished, and ready to be sold.

 “Just having the physical pencil case, it’s just surreal to me,” Shannon says, “and I feel really confident going forth in my future career.”

What’s next?

Shannon’s Fashion Business education continues, and she’s picking up practical experience as she goes.

“A few weeks ago, a group of us were in Paris, which the school sent us graciously on, where we attended the Première Vision conference, which was all about sustainability and innovation in textiles,” she says. “Now we’re taking all of the information from that and making a business plan for one of our projects.”

She’s also taken on the role of Marketing Coordinator for this year’s Styled for Success Fashion Show and is looking into her field placement. The best part of this project (and the program) is the real skills that Shannon continues to use, skills she can use in her future career.

 “Upon graduation,” Shannon says, ”I want to pursue a career in digital marketing that’s more focused on fashion, lifestyle and beauty brands because that’s what my interest has always been.”

“I have such a good understanding of how things are made,” she adds. “I see a lot of people running fashion companies and businesses who don’t have a formal education, so in that sense, we have the upper hand.”

Written By: Anthony Geremia