Entrepreneur, Educator, and FIDM Fashion Club Advisor Vanita Lee-Tatum Hosts a Virtual Fashion Show
Vanita Lee-Tatum brings a passion for fashion and an entrepreneurial spirit to Mt. Eden High School in Hayward, California. As a former banker, Lee-Tatum’s business and marketing skills have translated into entrepreneurship classes whose pedagogy is rooted in the importance of adapting to new technology and trends. Lee-Tatum teaches Entrepreneurship I and II on campus through Eden Area Regional Occupation Program (ROP), a career preparedness program specializing in Career Technical Education (CTE). She also advises the high school’s FIDM Fashion Club.
This year, Lee-Tatum taught her students how to optimize business growth by employing online marketing strategies that included a visit from FIDM College Representative Michelle Prior.
Over the course of several months, Mt. Eden’s FIDM Fashion Club and Entrepreneurship I and II students joined efforts to put together “Quarantine Couture,” a virtual fashion show on YouTube. They were responsible for the styling, photoshoots, graphic design elements, production, editing, and promotion of the show. “I provided guidance and feedback, but the students were really leading the charge under my tutelage,” Lee-Tatum explained.
To prepare for the show, Lee-Tatum taught students about social media marketing. They learned how to develop a brand voice and identify a target audience, which Lee-Tatum said was a valuable tool for them to identify advertising outside of the classroom. “It was something that was tangible, something applicable to what they're seeing online,” Lee-Tatum explained. “Now, when they go into their newsfeed, they know what they're looking at when they see ads.”
Prior visited the school virtually to share FIDM presentations, Job Ready Dress and Behind the Design: Careers in the Apparel Industry, both of which allowed students to get a glimpse into fashion styling and digital marketing careers in creative industries.
Students then put their skills to practice, partnering with an online retailer in San Francisco, California to develop outfits for the show. Students studied the retailer’s social media channel and website to create on-brand looks and styles. The show was then shared and promoted on the high school’s social media, and gained support throughout the high school community for its messaging of inclusivity and support of self-expression. “We wanted to incorporate students from different backgrounds so that they have space to be seen and to be appreciated for their diversity,” commented Lee-Tatum. “Our entire school community supported it; it was great.”
Producing a fashion show online enabled Lee-Tatum’s students to recognize the importance and value of adaptability in business, Lee-Tatum said. She elaborated that the key to successful business, especially during a pandemic, requires attention to pivoting and shifting business models. This was a valuable lesson for her students to learn this year, Lee-Tatum explained. “We can still have amazing outcomes and maybe we can even reach more people, because we’re in a different space. It’s a force of empowerment for them to feel like we’ve done something amazing in the most dire of circumstances.”
Reflecting on the outcome of the project, Lee-Tatum said she was overwhelmed by the work that the students produced. “It makes me feel inspired and empowered to keep growing in my profession and bringing opportunities and solutions to our youth. The students we serve are an underserved community, and it’s a great opportunity for them to change the outcome of their future. Given that we are applying that with fashion it’s even more powerful, because it’s about creativity, expression, and being authentic.”
FIDM helped Lee-Tatum prepare her students to produce the virtual fashion show by providing online fashion resources. Students in the high school’s FIDM Fashion Club watched the FIDM DEBUT Runway Show online during one of their club meetings. For inspiration, they participated in the How to Paint Denim DIY activity on FashionClub.com. Cumulatively, these resources helped Lee-Tatum to achieve her learning objectives by inspiring her students to apply creativity in their designs. “I am so glad that we’ve had FIDM to inspire us this year. It’s been great, and I am so looking forward to furthering our partnership,” Lee-Tatum said.
Lee-Tatum will continue to employ technology in the classroom and teach her students about digital marketing next year. She implored teachers to do the same, commenting that she recognized the importance of providing mentorship and guidance to her students during the pandemic. “I’m devoted to continuing to learn and grow and develop so that I can be that amazing educator that made a difference on their path. I think that for teachers, if we commit to ourselves and our students, we can truly make a difference.”
Looking for online fashion show resources? Learn more about FIDM DEBUT and join us for our world-class live streamed event.