From Spokane to Lululemon, with an assist from Parsons Summer Intensive Studies
Our Student Spotlight this month focuses on Courtney Denton, who recently took Fashion Merchandising, a Parsons Summer Intensive Studies course. She tells us how her experience in the classroom and with faculty member Joan Duncan helped her find a focus within the industry, and how the knowledge, skills and networking lead to her current position at Lululemon girl’s brand Ivivva. Courtney is currently completing her a communications degree in California while also taking the Parsons x Teen Vogue Fashion Industry Essentials certificate online.
Why did you decide to take classes at Parsons Summer Intensive Studies? What lead you to then also start the Parsons Teen Vogue program?
Growing up, I had always loved fashion. I was born and raised in Spokane, Washington which is not a fashion forward town. By my junior year of high school, I knew I loved fashion and was extremely interested in what that could mean for my future. I really wanted to pursue it, but I also wanted to get a general liberal arts degree in case somewhere down the road I changed my mind with what I wanted to do. During my freshman year of college I decided I wanted to be more involved with fashion so I applied for the Parsons Merchandising Summer Intensive Program. After spending the summer with some of the most talented girls and guys from around the world and making everlasting friendships I left wanting more. When I was attending the Summer Intensive, Parsons was developing the Parsons Teen Vogue Program, and I left knowing that being involved in this program would give me the opportunity to stay involved in the fashion world, while also working on my communications degree.
What did you take away from the course? What type of skills did you learn?
I learned so much in this class, but some of my favorites include: finding trends, making mood boards, learning how to develop a tech pack and cost sheet, understanding the sourcing process, networking.
What’s the most surprising thing your professor has said in class? The most inspiring?
The most inspiring thing Joan Duncan said in class was, “focus on your goals, don’t let other people's goals affect you and what you want.” and “Don’t worry about where you start or what you start working on, because it will only go up from there.” The most surprising thing Joan Duncan said in class was, “Because the industry is becoming so small, you have to take everything into consideration, to keep your reputation.”
What kinds of projects did you work on as part of your class?
Our class worked on a lot of different projects throughout the program. We were always out of the classroom and in different stores learning about fabrics, sourcing and private labels. Most of our projects built off of the one before and prepared us for our final. We did a lot of mood boards to guide us in the right direction for our final project. For our final project, we were to pick a retail company and find a void. We wanted to know what they not producing, that would fit within their target market. We created six designs to go with our new line, fitting in with the already target market of that company. While building the tech packs and cost sheets as well as our merchandising calendar, we researched where we would source our products and what our team would need to see the finished project. We took all of our information and turned it into a ten minute presentation and pitched it to our class as if they were the company with the void.
Did you take any more classes at Parsons or The New School? If so, which?
After taking the Summer Intensive Program, I took the Parsons Teen Vogue Fashion Essentials Program.
How has this course impacted your academic or professional goals?
These courses have provided me with a world of networking and an amazing mentor who is always there to answer my questions and to help me achieve my goals.
How has networking played a part in your experience either during or after your course?
During my course, I met so many different people within the industry from designers, to people in PR, fashion lawyers, entrepreneurs etc. Being able to stay connected with these people who I met through the course has been extremely helpful, this industry is so small and with everyone knowing everyone there are endless amounts of more connections they can and have helped me make.
What are you doing now? Is it connected with your experience at Parsons? If so, how?
I am currently a Key Leader and Community Lead at Ivivva, the girls line of Lululemon. As a Key Leader I manage daily sell through and product needs,and I managing the retail floor while working closely with our assistant and store manager. As the community lead, I am responsible for partnering with local organizations to spread brand awareness, creating and monitoring content for our social media accounts, as well as the art and window displays for our store and so much more! My experience at parsons has helped a lot with what I am up to now. With knowing more about how the industry works, I have been able to bring that into our stores strategies around spreading brand awareness. I also feel a lot more confident and eager to take on everything and be a part of a new and growing company. So much of where I am at today happens to do with networking and following up with everyone you meet along the way.
Is there anything else you want to say about your experience? Any advice for someone who may be interested in following a similar path?
If you are not 100% sure that you want to be in the fashion industry, or you love fashion, but you're not sure what area within the industry you want to be a part of the, Summer Intensive Program gives you all the tools and experiences you’ll need to figure that all out. Not only has it given me so many different opportunities, but it was a summer full of adventures and building some of the best friendships I have ever had! It's a summer to find who you are, to be adventurous and to set yourself up to achieve all of your goals!