A Pop-Up With Purpose

Fashion merchandising and management students gain real-world experience with holiday shop.

The Kanbar Performance Space buzzed with holiday spirit as fashion merchandising and management students created a pop-up shop with a purpose. Selling original, handmade clothing, jewelry and accessories, they gained valuable real-world experience while benefiting a local nonprofit.

For the project, roughly 100 students in the global fashion insight, retail strategy and structure, and visual merchandising courses formed small groups. Team members handled all the merchandising, marketing, production and design duties and gained a holistic understanding of trend forecasting, sourcing materials and more.

Students sold items like necklaces, crewneck shirts, earrings, hair clips and upcycled jeans ranging from $7 to $30.

Two students standing by their display.
Students sold items like hair clips, necklaces, earrings and upcycled jeans ranging from $7 to $30.

This year’s event—themed Chromablend—raised over $3,100 for Career Wardrobe, a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers people transitioning to work with professional clothing, job search support and professional development. Since 1995, the organization has assisted more than 80,000 individuals throughout the region as they have transitioned from poverty, violence or incarceration to employment and independence. The University’s fashion pop-up shops have collected approximately $52,000 for area nonprofits to date.

“They’re very inspired to produce something that will benefit others,” says Camille Avent, fashion merchandising and management professor. “These students are excited to contribute to the community.”

For the first time with the annual holiday pop-up, students emphasized extended sizing and gender-neutral options to better serve their customers.

“Chromablend epitomizes the diversity and inclusion that we foster at Jefferson,” says Juliana Guglielmi, fashion merchandising and management professor.

Three students standing by their display
The pop-up shop raised $3,100 for Career Wardrobe, a nonprofit that empowers people transitioning to work.

The Vita team, for example, sold unisex hand-dyed, -cut and -embroidered scarves for $20 that featured plant designs to emphasize sustainability, says student Marjan Eden. “We wanted to make a scarf that could be for everyone.”

A few tables away, the U.Scrunch team developed gender-neutral scrunchies for someone’s hair or as an arm or leg accessory.

“Fashion is a free-for-all now,” says student Zákee Hawkins. “You can wear anything you want. We figured it gives people a way to be creative with their style.”

“That’s why we came up with the U.Scrunch name,” adds teammate Yasmine Whalen. “However you want to do it, you do it.”

The day before the pop-up, students presented their products to a panel of Jefferson alumni and industry experts who provided constructive feedback. They quizzed students on their knowledge of the product development process, understanding of production costing principles and retail pricing, creation of marketing strategies, professional presentation and collaborative teamwork.

“We gained the knowledge of really what it takes to run a business,” Whalen says. “Everything came together, but we definitely had some bumps in the road, like any business would. It opened your eyes to how difficult it is to be an entrepreneur, but it’s worth it when you see everyone buying your stuff and how much they love it.”

The Vita team sold unisex hand-dyed, -cut and -embroidered scarves for $20.
Members of the Vita team sold unisex hand-dyed, -cut and -embroidered scarves for $20.
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Business, Design and Style, Life at Jefferson