Earlier this summer, an amazing opportunity came my way. I was asked to help produce a fashion show by the director of the fashion merchandising department at Fontbonne, Mrs. Angie Liljequist. She knows that I want to pursue a career in event planning, so this would be a great way for me to gain more experience. I am so glad that Angie approached me about this. I have helped plan and run many events on campus, but this was my first public one, therefore a way to gain more exposure in the St. Louis area.
Janet Riehl is an artist who creates a lot of work that features women in clothing that celebrates African culture. She wanted a casual fashion show to correlate with her work, and have it run at the opening of her month-long exhibit at the Portfolio Gallery on Delmar Boulevard (the exhibit being titled Women and Wardrobe). This opening would also serve as a fundraiser for the gallery. I met with Janet earlier in the summer to discuss her vision and so that I could see her artwork. I also met with Robert Powell, the creative director of the Portfolio Gallery, in order to see the space I had to work with. The gallery is really neat place, which is a vintage three-story house. After these initial meetings, I proceeded with my work.
Angie let me borrow some clothes that the fashion merchandising department has on hand for the costume history class. They were all garments worn traditionally in African culture by men and women. I gathered additional clothes, shoes, and accessories to style these looks in a more modern way. I recruited four models to wear these looks. I had connections with each of these girls after they modeled for the fashion show this past spring that my fashion promotions class produced. In addition, I reached out to a local fashion designer, Amelia LaSalle. I thought her designs complemented Janet’s work well too. Amelia’s collection was displayed on mannequins (also borrowed from the fashion merchandising department, and somehow all fit inside my small car).
Janet wanted it to be a casual and free-spirited event. So, there was not a formal runway show. The models were each stationed in a different room, and were there to mingle with guests and give them information about the traditional use of the garment they were wearing. I am excited to say that the evening was extremely successful! So many people showed up and had a great time. I received many compliments and recognition. It was all a bit surreal. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and appreciative of all the help from Angie, Janet, Robert, Amelia, and the four models. Great connections were made that I hope to continue building on in the near future. It is thrilling for me to plan an event and see it come to life. More and more I have solidified the fact that event planning is my passion and what I want to do in life.
Myself with the models: Brittany, Alyssa, Latoya, and Quinisha
In order to get my degree in fashion merchandising, it is a requirement to complete an internship. And as hard as it is to believe, I am at that point in my college career. My internship is at a company called TalentPlus Universal, which was originally intended to be solely a summer thing. But, I am excited to say it has been extended into the fall! I am glad that they like me enough to keep me. I first found out about this internship opportunity back in February when I was at the National Association for Campus Activities conference in Boston. I spoke with a TalentPlus representative at a booth that was set up at a fair, and applied as soon as I got back home to St. Louis. My first official day was May 15.
TalentPlus Universal is an agency that is only located in St. Louis (in the Central West End, to be specific). There are four divisions within the company: TalentPlus Entertainment, Centro Models, TalentPlus Commercial, and TalentPlus Production Services. The agents at TalentPlus represent talent, which includes musicians, comedians, models, actors, hair/makeup stylists, and more. They are responsible for getting the talent bookings and handling their marketing. There are only 12 employees, plus three interns. It is like a family around the office because everyone works so closely with one another. There is even a TalentPlus pool party coming up. I’m really looking forward to that and getting to know everyone better outside the work environment.
Honestly, I can say I learn something new every day I am there. So much goes on between all four divisions. And I’ve never been in a setting such as this before, so it’s like a new world to me. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to see the way each division operates. I primarily work with Entertainment, analyzing and handling client social media and marketing. Within the Commercial division, I’ve helped film videos and edit them myself. This was a completely new and very exciting experience to me. Last, but not least, most days I work on my projects while sitting at the front desk. While there, I answer phone calls, process payments, and greet and direct visitors. I especially enjoy greeting models when they come in for photo shoots and model scouters traveling from other major fashion cities. There is definitely never a dull moment at TalentPlus!
Way back in February, I found out about an internship opportunity on the Omicron Delta Kappa website. It said “Are you interested in a career in event planning!?” And since I am interested in such a career and am an ODK member, I thought this would be perfect. The position would entail an intern to arrive at the ODK summer convention in Lexington, Virginia a few days early to help set everything up and run the events throughout the conference that lasts four days. I applied and found out in April that I got the position! This opportunity has been a long time coming, and it finally happened way too quickly.
The three days before everyone else showed up for the convention, I was in Lexington to help prepare, along with two other interns. Starting at early hours and ending late in the evening, I spent most of my time at ODK headquarters. I worked a lot with the registration packets, goodie bags, programs, meal tickets, and name tags. Another one of my responsibilities throughout the week was to be an RA for all the people that would be staying in the resident hall. Therefore, I prepared room assignments and the linens for each room. Also, I tried to become familiar with the campus as much as possible so that I could show people where to go for each event/meeting. Washington and Lee University is a beautiful campus and very historical (it was founded in the 1700s by George Washington and Robert E. Lee). This is also the school where ODK was founded in 1914. This year marks the centennial celebration for ODK’s founding. The little town of Lexington was very nice as well. All the residents were extremely friendly and the green hills and trees everywhere are so pretty.
It was very exciting when everyone else began to show up. I love meeting people from all across the U.S. I was extremely busy throughout the convention, always leaving things early to set up for the next event (and then actually run it). But I get a thrill out of being busy, especially for a setting like this. There were multiple workshops, guest speakers, delicious meals, service projects, and a 5K race. Some of the fun activities during free time were a brewery tour, concert, comedian, ghost tour, and drive-in movie. There was a formal ball to end the convention.
It was very hard to leave Lexington. My time there went by too fast. I had such a great time making so many new friends and professional connections as well. In just one week, I learned so much about ODK and about myself. I am eternally grateful for this experience and can’t wait to share my stories with my Fontbonne ODK circle.
The interns at the Centennial Ball celebration
Washington and Lee University
I’ve been thinking about what to say in my final Fontbonne blog for some time now. I’ve been trying to think of witty comments or good advice to give to current and incoming students. But, for the first time, I think I’ll just make it short and sweet.
These past four years have definitely been an adventure. I’ve cried and laughed. I’ve felt like I was on top of the world and stuck under a bunch of rocks. I’ve experienced triumphs and tribulations. The best advice I can offer to students at this point is to keep doing what you’re doing no matter what anyone else thinks. Go with what your heart tells you, even if everyone seems to be against you. You and only you know what’s best for you, even if others laugh and think you’re crazy.
So where will I go after graduation? Well, I’ll be working all summer, and then I’ll start my graduate education at Saint Louis University in the Core Biomedical Sciences Program offered through the School of Medicine. My goal is to join one of the many Molecular Microbiology and Immunology research labs because microbiology is, without a doubt, my biggest life passion.
Thanks for reading my blogs over these past four years and for following me on my life journey.
“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way, no day but today.”