Student Spotlight: Nicole Willis
Major: Fashion Studies
Nicole Willis loves fashion, despite the fact that she cannot sew.
“My mom is a ridiculously talented designer, so I always grew up around patterns, fabrics, and sewing machines,” she said. “When I was 6, I wanted to be a designer. But in high school, after taking a home ec class, I realized that I would be much better off on the business side. This was largely due to the fact that I cannot sew, draw and I’m much more comfortable giving and taking direction and making sure things are organized and running smoothly.”
Willis selected College of DuPage due to its reputation, location and reasonable cost. She also wanted to continue working and didn’t want to rack up debt.
What she discovered in the Fashion Studies program were strong instructors and a curriculum that helped push her to be her best.
“Having professors who are active in the fashion, advertising and social media business is so helpful,” she said. “Hearing their insight and tips is invaluable. I’ve already used many things I’ve learned in trying to build up professional social media platforms for others.
“Fashion isn’t all glamour and parties and pretty clothes. A lot of the time on TV, with the somewhat exception of ‘Project Runway,’ you see all the pretty parts of fashion. There is so much psychology, business, hard work and sweat that goes into putting on a fashion show, planning a collection, fashion advertisement campaign, store/window display, and the name of a brand itself.”
After earning her Associate in Applied Science degree in Fashion Merchandising, Willis plans to transfer to Northern Illinois University and complete a bachelor’s degree. Her ultimate goal is to be a visual merchandiser for a company like Henri Bendel or Von Maur.
As for prospective students, Willis advises them to take it seriously and be prepared to work, because it will help in the future.
“Everything you learn is useful, so soak it up, take notes, ask questions and volunteer for everything,” she said. “The more you put yourself out there in the school and in the Fashion Studies program, the more you will meet people and make connections. You never know who will be able to assist you in the future, so network and be authentic.
“Also, retail is a must. I truly believe everyone should work in retail once in their life but I especially believe that for fashion students. Get in retail, ask questions, check out if they have an internship program at the corporate offices, do floor sets and get that experience.”
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