United Colors of Fashion Visits Local Schools


United Colors of Fashion Visits Local Schools

By Ada Onuegbe

United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) Manager of Education, Grace Manalo, presented fashion opportunities to students at high school Career Day events in New York. Flushing High School in Queens and Lower East Side Preparatory School in Manhattan each hosted panels of working professionals from a variety of industries. Grace shared her experience on the panel with me.

Where did the idea for attending career day come from?
One of my mentors in the fashion industry heard about the event from her grad school classmate. She forwarded me the invite and I was quick to respond. Besides being a designer, I am a board member/volunteer teacher for a non-profit organization, United Colors of Fashion. Fashion philanthropy and empowering youth is a big passion of mine!

How interested were the students in fashion careers?
They were really interested in design. A big message I wanted to get across is that the fashion industry has many more career paths than just design! You don’t have to be a designer to be in fashion. There are other successful, stable, and exciting positions such as a trend forecaster, pattern maker, merchandiser, production manager, and more! I definitely believe the media has a lot to do with what young people expect the fashion industry to be like, and often times the media is incorrect.

Were the students at all surprised by the number of opportunities available?
II think they were still very focused on design. I’m glad they’re interested, but I wish I had more time to talk with the them. Afterwards, I gave them my business card and they were very eager to learn about the classes I teach at the United Colors of Fashion. They were all different, from personality to ethnicity, but all shared the same curiosity for fashion.
Are there any other career days in the works?
I’m sure there will be! And I’d love to attend again!

Any last words?
Another big message I wanted to get across is that you CAN be successful and be in fashion. It takes a lot of confidence and dedication. Just like any other industry, you need to have patience, you have to be passionate, and you have to work hard.

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