In today’s fierce economic environment, new product lines are as likely come from business schools as “Project Runway.” In a national competition through the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, five Aggies won major scholarships for envisioning fresh merchandise assortments targeting the millennial customers that JCPenney wants to attract. This generation is over 80 million strong and wields more than $200 billion in annual buying power, so every retailer is competing for this enormous customer segment.
Mays Business School has participated in this competition since 2011; this is the second time the school garnered five winners. Only five students from each of 46 competing schools can win, which means the Aggies bested competitors from Harvard, FIT and Wharton. In total, 136 students earned $5,000 each.
The competition’s mission is to advance the fashion industry by providing promising students with financial and career resources. Member companies such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Lacoste and many others guarantee internship and mentoring opportunities to winners. All four of Texas A&M’s 2013 winners interned in New York City after completing this program; two started full-time careers in the city with Kenneth Cole and Macy’s Merchandising Group.
The 2014 scholarship recipients are Holly Vogel, Kailie Flores, Christina Tharp, Krystin Sessions and Shelby Zamzow. All are M.B. Zale Leadership Scholars earning the Certificate in Retailing through the Department of Marketing. Their project coach was Cheryl Bridges, who spent 25 years in the industry and currently serves as director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School.
Projects were evaluated by four retailing executives and scored by strict metrics. Bridges said, “We were told by the executives attending the gala that the Aggie projects “set the standard.’ Each of these students should be tremendously proud of her work.” The product lines include women’s career and kid’s designer apparel, a fitness line, runway-inspired housewares and a hip jean bar for guys seeking fashion advice while shopping.
In addition to recognition in front of the 1,200 people attending the fundraising event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the Aggies were profiled in the Sunday Style Section of the New York Times. Famed Times photographer Bill Cunningham captured them, alongside celebrities attending the event.
About Mays Business School
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.