Pursuing a career in fashion with a degree from BYU

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BYU is known for its religious study, highly ranked business school and language education opportunities. But it might not be the first school that comes to mind when it comes to fashion.

Brooke Holt stands outside New York & Company after accepting their job offer. (Ashley Holt)
Brooke Holt stands outside New York & Company after accepting their job offer. (Ashley Holt)

Despite the fact that BYU offers undergraduates 193 major options, there is no option to study fashion at BYU. But there are still ways to gain knowledge and experience necessary to work in the fashion industry through a BYU education.

Local designer and recent BYU graduate Brandon Perry experienced this firsthand.

“Because there isn’t a program at BYU I just thought it wasn’t in the cards for me,” Perry said. “I went to BYU because I had a ballroom dance scholarship. … I didn’t think I would be able to do fashion design until I took a step back and realized that I could continue my education after my four years at BYU.”

Perry graduated with a degree in family and life science with an emphasis in clothing and textiles. Since then, he has been accepted into the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, although he is unsure if that is the direction he wants to take his career.

Dawna Baugh, whom Perry talked about as someone who provided guidance for him during his time at BYU, teaches many fashion-related classes at BYU in the School of Family Life.

Baugh recommended taking several of the courses offered by the School of Family Life. Classes in textiles, dynamics of clothing and clothing construction are all available.

These classes are open enrollment for all students. Baugh suggested pairing these courses with a communications or business major to prepare students for a role in the business side of the industry.

The School of Family life also provides students an opportunity to go to New York City every other year to learn about the industry. This opportunity is also available to non-majors, who need only to contact Baugh to participate.

“Everyone wears clothes, everyone buys clothes, and it’s one of the largest industries in the world, and there are lots of job opportunities in different formats,” Baugh said.

BYU graduate Brooke Holt took a different approach than Perry to get her foot in the door in the fashion industry. Holt studied advertising at BYU and now works as a visual creative planner at New York and Company.

“I determine the placement of our product in the store, all 500 stores,” Holt said. “From the corporate level I am the jewelry and accessories girl. So in all 500 stores all the jewelry and accessories are presented how I choose to display them.”

Holt attributes much of her success to the time she put into her personal portfolio while in school and the internships she did during the summers between semesters.

“If you know it is something you want to do, then you have to start with a job in retail and work your way up from there,” Hold said. “You have to start from the bottom, and you will have your “Devil Wears Prada” days where you will just want to cry. But from there you can figure out where you want to end up.”

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