Q&A With The Kent State Fashion Collective

Photo: Rachel Baughman

In college, joining a club can be an experience that lasts a lifetime. Many people cherish and value their club experiences. Sophomore design majors Mercy McClung and Olive Hughes have gone a step further than joining a club by creating their own. The Kent State Fashion Collective is the newest club to join the roster. Instead of the traditional president/ vice president system founders, Olive and Mercy, have opted for a board member system. Those board members include fashion design majors Savanna Wills, Malika Burnham, Rachel Snyder, Emily Hall, Emma Mathe, Sydney Shufford and merchandising major Cade Hamsher. A Magazine sat down with the Kent State Fashion Collective to learn a little more about their new club. 

Why did you want to create the collective?

 Mercy: I initially kind of started this idea in visuals because we didn’t have magazines          for the class, so I decided I wanted to go and get magazines from publishers and stuff like that. Then I realized as students we can contribute to the school and create a stronger community and connect people

Olive: The first issue I encountered with the fashion school was the lack of studio hours. That started to spark my interest, like everybody is having the same issues. We are already in the same community sharing the same spaces, so it just made sense for us to just work together and solve these issues and have a collaborative space.

What is the vision for the club?

Savanna: With our first meeting the main goal is to hear from other students on what they think needs to be improved upon. After that, we want to focus on building micro-collectives, small groups that will work to solve.

Mercy: We want to bring new experiences to the school.

What is a mini or micro-collective?

Savanna: They are small groups made up of collective members that work to problem-solve.

Mercy: They help to bring new experiences to the school. There might be one focused on sustainability or studio hours, while another is focused on diversity or even jewelry-making. The goal is to help people explore their niche interest with like-minded people.

Can you explain the process of getting registered as an official club?

Olive: So we’ve kind of been jumping through hoops, but the first thing we had to do was find a faculty adviser, Ms.Simmons. We had to have a lot of meetings with a lot of different people because we didn’t know exactly what we were doing because there wasn’t a lot of information out there.

Mercy: We had to make a constitution that explains our board and bylaws. We also had to find a group of five people with a 2.5 GPA or above so we basically needed two “presidents” and five group members along with a logo and pictures. It wasn’t so much a hard process, it was just more time consuming than we had imagined.

Are you finding it difficult to create a club and organize the first meeting in such a short time period?

Olive: Not really because we’ve had these ideas for a while and now its just about manifesting ideas we’ve all had for some time.

What are some of the things the club will address?

Emily: One of the things we are mainly focused on is unifying the design and merchandising majors and trying to be more collaborative as a whole.

Savanna: We want to enhance the learning experience at Kent State within the Fashion School.

Mercy: We hope to have a dialogue with administration, students and faculty in the long run. 

When is the first meeting? 

Malika: The first meeting is Feb. 18 at 8:45 p.m in the Student Center, room 313. And if you follow our club Instagram @ksfashioncollective, we will have updates on all future meetings there. 

How often will you meet?

Mercy: We want to meet as a whole three times per semester. The first meeting is to get information out, the second meeting in the middle of the semester is just to check in with everyone and the last meeting at the end of the semester to wrap things up. But, in between those three meetings there will be mini-collectives meetings. 

Are there dues?

Malika: There are dues. You can either pay three dollars per semester or you can pay $5.00 for the year.

How are you going about advertisement as a new club?

Cade: We are definitely going to use social media as sort of our main way to reach everybody. We also have the advantage of knowing that Rockwell and the Macc Annex is where we know the majority of the fashion students are. We definitely want to take advantage of that by posting flyers in those areas. 

How big of an emphasis are you going to put on social media and will it play a big role in the club?

Mercy: I think more and more we are moving towards social media and our generation is very in tune with that, so I think that our collective should reflect that.

What sets the collective apart for other existing fashion clubs?

Malika: Our club has a real focus on unifying the design and merch students so that we learn to appreciate what the others do and gain a sort of mutual respect, while breaking the disconnect. 

Emily: We are also very focused on addressing issues in the fashion school, while a lot of the other groups are more focused on the business aspects after graduation.

Mercy: We really want to hone our craft and to do that, we want to help the fashion program be the best that it can be. So whatever we can do to enhance the learning experience and uplift each other, we want to make sure we do.

Why is a collaboration between the merch and design students important to you? 

Cade: It is important because we only spend four years here for undergrad trying to figure out what we are going to do and more cross-education and collaboration between merch and design would prove to be helpful when we get to the workforce. There is just a lot more cross-over than people think. In a lot of people’s minds it’s either merch or design, but there is just a lot more collaboration that goes into it. And it’s sort of counterintuitive to be so divided when we ultimately will have to work so closely. 

Mercy: In an industry all about connections, we have to work so closely together and the fact that we are so separated makes making connections that could prove to be invaluable that much harder. 

What type of events are you guys planning?

Rachel: So I know we wanted to have speakers and we want to kind of highlight students who have businesses come and speak. We are also hoping to have workshops to learn some new skills. We also want to highlight some of the different job opportunities there are under the sort of all-encompassing umbrella of fashion design and merch.

Savanna: We want to explore things that aren’t necessarily included in the curriculum like, menswear or children’s wear.

Mercy: We also want to have grad students or students who have studied abroad come in and kind of speak about their experiences because they have information that could be valuable to us.

Emily: We are often taught how to work within the industry, but not really how to be our own boss so we want to try and bring someone in who can teach us those skills as well. 

Why did you decide to not do presidents and opt for just board members?

Olive: We’ve both been in situations where we were in organizations where they used the sort of traditional two president system, in my case I was the president, and we didn’t really like it because rather than the group collectively making decisions. I always had the final say and I didn’t want that. I wanted everyone to contribute their ideas and we all decide on what’s best. 

Mercy: It also creates a space where you can have longevity because different people are working on different things. It also allows people to be fluid and flexible. You don’t just have to be a secretary, you can do this or that as well. We wanted to put an emphasis on collaborating rather than dictating. 

What made you want to be a part of the club?

Malika: They had been talking about it for a while and I really liked the ideas and the fact that they wanted to address problems that we were all talking about, but no one was trying to fix.

Savanna: Complaining had become monotonous so when they approached me with the idea, I was all for it. I wanted to see some things changed, like studio hours and I wanted to help change them.

Rachel: From our first year to now, we’ve seen a lot of changes and like Savanna said, the complaining really was all we were doing. I think it’s great that they are taking charge and I wanted to be a part of it.

In one sentence describe what you hope to accomplish with the collective?

Cade: As a merchandising major it would be cool to help breakdown some of those stigmas and stereotypes between the two majors. 

Emily: I hope to educate everybody about the things we do and how passionate we are about them. 

Rachel: I just want to help make our four years the best that they can by collaborating and learning as much as we can.

Malika: I want to bring new ideas to the Fashion School for the designers and merchandisers of the future classes. 

Savanna: I want to explore personal interest and make an avenue to help others do the same. 

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you want to say?

Mercy: Because we are students, we have a unique perspective on what we want to  bring to this school. Right now we are the target market and we know exactly what we want.Olive: We are the experts at being students. We have to let the professors and admin know how to best teach us. We have to collaborate with them and create a space and a curriculum that works best for us.

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