Our Fashion graduates become the movers and shakers of the fashion industry who stand out for their creativity and their competency. Among our successful and distinguished former students are:
- Troy Amos Ross, Ross Wear
- Kelly Freeman & Rory Lindo, Damsels in this Dress
- Darci Cheyne, Custom Costume
- Kim Mellikow, Zellers
- Sarah Wallace, Schure Sports Inc.
- Shelly Purdy, Shelly Purdy Studio
- Diane Hansen, Patina Metalwear
- Andrew Goss and Sandra Noble Goss
- Duncan Parker, Harold Weinstein Ltd.
On November 17, 2010, ten outstanding graduates from Business, Arts & Design were inducted into the inaugural Alumni Wall of Fame. The inductees represent alumni who have excelled in their professional careers, have been actively involved in the community, and have been advisors and mentors to the students.
A gold mine of experience
Meet Martha Glenny, Katharina Möller, and Shona Kearney, School of Fashion Studies Jewellery Arts alumni who returned to the College to become professors in the program themselves.
In addition to sharing their skills and experience in the classroom, Shona, Katharina and Martha are members of Quintet, a jewellery design collective they started with two other members of the Jewellery Arts faculty. “Working together as artists as well as teachers is very rewarding,” explains Shona. “It allows us to keep current and put the techniques we teach into practice.”
Quintet has a new exhibition that will be touring the country this year, and their work will be featured at the upcoming Society of North American Goldsmiths conference in May 2013, co-hosted by George Brown and Harbourfront. “In addition to creating the exhibition, we’ve put together a catalogue, designed a multi-function display unit and overseen the touring schedule,” says Katharina. “The breadth of experience across the group allows us to tackle all these things ourselves.”
Martha Glenny – 1975 graduate, Jewellery Arts
“My interest in jewellery was sparked by a part-time job in a shop that specialized in Scandinavian Modern design. It sold jewellery unlike any I had seen before –it was contemporary and made me see the potential for a creative career. The things I enjoyed as a student are the same things I love about being a teacher - the pleasure of problem solving and the delight of making objects. GBC was the start of a life-long career that has given me much satisfaction and joy.”
Katharina Möller – 1988 and 1991 graduate, Gemmology and Jewellery Arts
“I chose to study at George Brown because it was the most recognized jewellery program in Ontario. As a student I could see the College had a strong commitment to excellence, but I didn’t realise all the planning and preparation that went into each lecture. Now I understand my teachers made it look effortless because they planned their lessons so effectively. They showed genuine concern for our progress and encouraged us to rise to challenges and expand our vision, which is the same approach I take with my own students.”
Shona Kearney – 1997 graduate, Jewellery Arts
“I chose George Brown because it was renowned for its intensive hands-on technical training. The value of technical accuracy, repetition and continually challenging oneself has been a constant throughout my career –taking risks in a creative discipline is essential. The College has been the ideal place to learn and develop my skills -the supportive environment and feeling of community in the program is something I’ve experienced as both a student and a teacher. I love working closely with a group of students and watching confidence and technical abilities grow.”
TOP TIPS FOR ASPIRING DESIGNERS
What are the most important things for a successful career in jewellery design?
KM – Be flexible and open to new experiences. Constantly examine the world around you and incorporate new ideas.
MG - After you graduate, even if your goal is to have your own business, work in the field and spend a few years learning ‘on the job’. Be active on many levels: working, volunteering and joining organizations.
SK – Persistence and networking are vital. Take a chance on opportunities as they present themselves.
Why do you think it’s helpful and important for grads to stay connected to the college?
SK: In the jewellery industry, job opportunities are not always posted in the usual places. Staying in close contact with our alumni allows us to pass along job opportunities, as the industry relies on word of mouth and often approaches the college when seeking new employees.
KM – George Brown is a wonderful networking resource. I consider the students’ time in the classroom as the start of their careers –the strong connections they make here will benefit them throughout their working lives.
MG - On a personal level, we work very closely with our students and we simply enjoy staying in touch!
What’s the top advice you have for students?
MG - Your time at college is very short - make the most of it! Commit fully to all the courses and project work, and actively engage with your professors to enhance your learning.
SK - Something I try to pass on, which I found challenging as a student, is that there is value in making mistakes. In this field, making mistakes is inevitable and learning from them is hugely important.
KM - Be creative in problem solving. Creativity is of vital importance, whether it’s in an artistic, technical or business context.
Fashion Techniques and Design
If you’re a fan of Project Runway Canada then you’ll recognize Season 2 contestant and George Brown grad, Camille Prins. Selected as one of Canada’s most talented up-and-coming designers, Prins calls on her boundless energy and creativity when designing for her label, Dutch Blonde. She also credits the technical skills she learned at George Brown. “My education played a pivotal part of my career,” she says.
Growing up in Calgary, Prins had an interest in fashion from an early age. In order to move beyond dreaming up collections to actually producing them, she moved to Toronto, which she regarded as a major fashion centre. After looking into the available programs, Prins selected George Brown because of its focus on the technical side of fashion design. Prins had confidence in her creative talent but wanted a setting that would teach her the skills she needed.
“I feel so lucky that I got into George Brown,” she explains.“ They focus so much on the technical aspects of the industry, which is really important when you get out there. The program took care of me by teaching me things like sewing and pattern drafting.”
Along with the hands-on learning, Prins was also impressed by the quality and passion of the faculty. While she says all the professors were amazing, it was Rosa Fracassa, Fashion Coordinator of the School of for Fashion Studies who had the biggest influence on her. Prins recalls that Rosa was always challenging her students to ensure they were ready for the industry. Pop quizzes like 30-second design tests helped push Prins to new levels.
Another motivator was George Brown’s Annual Fashion Show. Students who were selected to participate would have their work showcased in front of people from the industry. Prins had her designs featured both years she was at George Brown and felt it was a great experience to be part of.
After graduation, Prins pursued an internship in England, working for a designer as they prepared for London Fashion Week. She admits going to London was a bit nerve-wracking, but within the first day realized she knew everything that she needed to know to be a part of the team and get the collection ready for the runway. “I was perfectly prepared for the opportunity,” she states.
In addition to putting her skills to work, Prins was eager to learn about the business side of fashion. She took jobs in sales and with a Canadian company that had her travelling to New York and Costa Rica. Finally, she was ready to launch her own line, Dutch Blonde, in 2004.
Now her work has been seen on a national scale with her participation on Project Runway Canada. “I was so excited to be a part of the show,” recalls Prins. “At times it was like a dream vacation. There was intense pressure, but overall it was an amazing, fun experience. It’s a great way to get your name out there. I would recommend it to any designer or student.”
With 10 million TV viewers knowing Prins and the Dutch Blonde label, her career is rising even faster. And when you read about her, you’ll probably see a mention of George Brown. She sums up her education as such, “It was exactly what I needed. Two years — in and out — very intense. It gave me the skills I needed to go forward.”
Fashion Techniques and Design - F113
Megan Lott has wanted in a career in fashion since high school. After studying sewing at Central Tech, she registered in George Brown College's Fashion Techniques and Design program in 2000 and immediately took to the intensive work environment and the focus on the craft of fashion.
"In analyzing other programs I've found most of them don't focus enough on the technical side of fashion," Megan explains. "I think it's crucial for any designer to go through a program like George Brown's in order to understand what's technically possible. Especially because it's such a competitive industry, you should at least know the basics in all areas whether you're going to be a pattern-maker, sewer, illustrator or designer."
After graduating in 2002, Megan and a friend from GBC went to Milan to study at the prestigious Istituto Marangoni.
"We were studying with people from all over the world," she says. "I appreciated George Brown even more after we arrived and found that our technical abilities were on a much higher level than the other students."
Megan's main interest lies in the combination of mathematics and art that goes into pattern-making, designing the "blueprint" for clothing.
"Pattern-making and sewing is really where the skill is," she says. "You can style and pick colours all you want, but you don't just wake up one morning and know how to make a tailored suit. That's what I'm most interested in - the craftsmanship of fashion."
Megan refutes the notion that you need to spend a fortune to get a good fashion education, and that in fact the opposite is true, mentioning a friend who went to an expensive design school.
"She spent 13,000 dollars for one year and felt rushed and bombarded with work," says Megan. "At George Brown you work very hard but they don't overwhelm you, and the progression of the demos and classes are geared so you absorb a lot of information. Plus there are tons of supplies and the teachers are always willing to make time for you."
Although she plans to travel more, Megan is spending time in Toronto adding to her work experience before going abroad. She recently landed a job at the Haggar clothing company as an Import Coordinator, managing the shipping and distribution of the company's garments.
"I want to learn as much about the industry as possible, so if I start my own clothing business I'll be prepared," she says.
Megan doesn't totally rule out becoming a designer one day, but for now she wants to focus on making quality clothing and becoming increasingly skilled at her trade.
"I don't have any ambition to become famous," she says. "Ideally I want to apprentice with a top pattern-maker, someone who can create a pattern by instinct. I want that level of skill."
"I came to the "Fashion Management" program at George Brown College having already completed a 4-year University degree in Business Administration. The "Fashion Management" program which includes participation in the "College Creations" student store and an "Industry Internship" has genuinely challenged me for the first time in all of my previous educational endeavours. I am convinced that this program has prepared me well for a Management career in the Fashion industry."
Patricia Chung, Recent Graduate
"Graduating from the George Brown College "Fashion Management" program provided me with the necessary competencies to obtain immediate employment in the Toronto Apparel industry. Applying the knowledge I had gained at GBC allowed me to attain a number of upwardly progressive job opportunity in the industry. This eventually made it possible for me to accomplish my ultimate ambition which was to become an entrepreneur in the Apparel industry."
"Today I own and operate one of the largest Apparel Manufacturing companies in Ontario; "Tang Apparel Inc" as President and CEO with over 150 direct labour employees and over 15 million in annual sales."
"George Brown gave me the professional competencies I needed to start my career in the apparel industry. The intense curriculum covers all aspects of marketing, merchandising, manufacturing and management. The additional 320 hours of practical work experience in the industry were also a big help in securing a job immediately after graduation."
Katryn Nowina, Graduate