Face it; we all know how awkward and rather difficult it is to come up with the right approach and words to introduce yourself to whoever is sitting near you in your classes, especially when it’s jam packed with 100+ other students. Half of the time, you’re not even sure if you would actually click with them. Maybe that’s why VCU has over 500 student organizations to get involved with.
The Stiletto Club, a student chapter at VCU, is particularly aimed at fashion-merchandising and design students, but it is not exclusive to others in different majors. As a new organization of Spring 2014, they have been promoting themselves with the idea that this organization is meant for students to feel comfortable socializing with others that share the similar interests concerning the fashion world. The club is also meant to help find different ways to network, search for internships, and allows them to participate in community service focusing on their field.
There are four members on the board of the committee: President Katherine Ospino, Vice President Zoya Shaikh, Secretary Laura Brackett, and Treasurer Allison Oberlin. All of the board members but Oberlin will be graduating next fall; therefore, they are working hard to get other students interested so that the club will continue in the future. They are also hoping to find dedicated members who are willing to take over when new leadership opportunities arise.
Vice president Zoya Shaikh said, “We try to bring in older students from our major but sometimes it doesn’t work out.” The board of committee feels that it is important to bring older students from both the fashion-merchandising and design programs to their club meetings so that younger members can learn from their experiences as well as finding motivation to reach their goals and achieve their dreams. At a previous meeting, the board of committee was able to bring in Owen Payne and Justine Mangum, both senior students in the fashion-merchandising program, to share their stories on earning internships in New York City and Richmond.
Payne explained that he sold his car to fund a summer internship in New York, which helped cover the costly student housing, cab and subway fairs, and groceries, “If you really want to do something, you’ll do it.” he said/ Payne’s internship with Fashion Snoops was lenient with his time by allowing him to have the weekends and some extra days for himself to really get to know the city and what’s going on around him while Mangum had a different experience.
Mangum, who interned for Marie Claire magazine, described her experience as busy and hectic. “It was like working a retail job;” she explained, “I didn’t even have time for lunch the first day.” Mangum also discussed other internships she has had in NYC like the Max Mara Fashion Group internship where she was able to work behind the scenes in fashion shows and learned that it wasn’t exactly her thing. However, she said it was certainly an opportunity she learned from.
Both Payne and Mangum agreed that the Stiletto club is a great way for students in design, fashion merchandising, or any other major for that matter to collaborate together rather than follow the arts school stigma of viewing each other as competitors for a job.
To make sure the Stiletto Club stays strong, the board of committee have come up with some ideas for the future to assure that the club keeps growing. Apart from launching an exclusive newsletter to come out via e-mail for members, “We will provide a website that has job offerings that we know through the alumni stiletto club as well as ones we know about through other members,” Brackett said.
While the Stiletto Club is fairly new to VCU, there are definitely many opportunities available to those interested in the fashion industry. Even if it’s not something you plan to pursue in a serious manner, the Stiletto Club
is eager to hear your propositions. After all, with our diverse community, there’s bound to be some rad ideas.