Transfer Student Decides to Pursue Fashion Instead of the Medical Field
Alyssa Cheng was a Biology and Business double major at La Sierra University before she switched gears to pursue a creative career. Her parents, both of whom are medical doctors in the Los Angeles area, are very supportive of her decision. She now has her Associates in Merchandise Product Development, her Bachelor of Science in Apparel Technical Design, and she recently launched a business, Pawerful Kits.
When she first started college, Alyssa was headed on the medical school trajectory. Then, she met Dr. Thomas, the Dean of the Zapara School of Business at La Sierra University, who became her mentor. It was when she took a graphic design class, she realized, “This is me; this is where I belong.”
She realized she could spend eight hours doing graphics and “not know the passing of time.” She also started to develop an interest in fashion. It was then that Dr. Thomas recommended she apply to FIDM. “Never stop learning,” Dr. Thomas told her, “because if you do, then you stop living.”
Alyssa says creativity runs in her family. Her great grandfather was an interior designer and his furniture was carried in Singapore at a store, the equivalent of which is Barney’s. Also, her great aunt is an artist and muralist.
“I am pursuing fashion because I want to make people’s lives better,” said the recent grad.
Throughout her time at FIDM, Alyssa utilized the FIDM Portal to find out about internships at various PR companies and fashion brands. Then, while she was taking Susan Spencer's class in sustainability, she conceived of an idea for a business. She then launched the idea for her senior project, and Pawerful Kits was born. She loves connecting with people through their pets, and she wants to marry her love of animals with a fashion business.
“Animals shape people in a way I understand. Connecting with people through their pets is what I like to do. Animals affect people’s personalities in powerful ways.”
Alyssa’s mission is to use recycled fabrics to make one-of-a-kind pieces for dogs and cats. Currently, she’s making bowties, bandanas, collars, and leashes. Her end-goal is to create high quality crate covers and donate them to LA Adopt. In the future, Alyssa wants to collaborate with artists and animal shelters.
“It’s very rewarding,” she said. “Because of this company, I’m connecting with more people on another level. People connect with me about their dogs. Pets create an environment in which people show their kindness—their raw form of love. It’s easier to connect with them with pets around."
As a student, Alyssa adopted animals that were listed on Craigslist as “free pets,” saving them from potentially bad homes. Then she’d list them on FIDM’s closed Facebook group to find good homes for the pets. Ons student adopted two kittens, Coal and Isle, while another adopted a puppy. Alyssa herself adopted a dog and cat, Simba and Mr. Whiskers. “Mr. Whiskers eats my string when I sew,” she laughed.
Through her business, Alyssa is building a community around animal adoption awareness.
“All of my classmates inspired me to be someone,” Alyssa said. “I’m proud of myself because I finished. I’m thankful for my whole class. We are close knit, yet independent souls.”
She said she learned a lot from her classmates, too. “We had the most diverse group of all. Our designs were very international—the choice in color, silhouette, and how everyone contributed their knowledge of trends.”
Alyssa has great respect for her FIDM Instructors, especially Susan Spencer, Rebecca Eliason, and Joy Somerville. She said, “Ms. Somerville has been the driving force for Pawerful Kits—and her daughter, too, who has her own brand, Hella Good Babes.”
“Without FIDM," Alyssa said, "I wouldn’t be where I am.”
Follow Pawerful Kits on Instagram @pawerfulkits