IMPD Student Designs for Youth Wellness Category
Each year, FIDM partners with a top brand in our International Manufacturing & Product Development (IMPD) program where students master all facets of the product development cycle. This year, thirteen students were accepted into the exclusive program and partnered with Color Solutions International (CSI). We caught up with student Abbie Watkins, who returned to her hometown in rural North Dakota during shelter-in-place, to learn about her IMPD experience and to find out how she’s staying inspired during these challenging times.
Tell us your industry story and your path to FIDM: I found fashion when I was 12 years old. FIDM was soon to follow. My 8th-grade family and consumer science teacher, Deb Mckay, handed me a pamphlet on FIDM and it was love at first sight. By my sophomore year of high school, I created and ran my high school’s FIDM Fashion Club. Originally growing up in rural North Dakota I knew I had to do everything perfectly in order to afford to come to FIDM so by my senior year I was heavily involved in clubs in order to get scholarships. FIDM is one of the few schools I have come across that offers such a wide array of scholarships which in the end ultimately had me sold. I received my first Associate’s in Merchandise Product Development and ultimately decided I wanted and needed more and found my way to IMPD. Ironically, I can still remember when I was in high school watching IMPD videos thinking to myself how cool it would be to do that, and fast forward to years later, I successfully graduated from the program and it is truly mind-blowing.
Describe your designs in the CSI industry collaboration: My collection for Fall 2021 was solely for the target market, Youth Wellness. I was instructed to choose any age bracket under the age of 18, so I decided to focus on teenage girls, ages 14-17. My collection zones in on finding true peace with the mind, body, and soul. I designed with calming colors and cozy silhouettes yet sustainable and functional aspects. My two main pieces include a cropped duo sports bra top that includes a turtleneck that can roll up to become a face mask.
The second is my cramp it out yoga pants that have a functional pocket strategically placed on the abdomen in order to put a portable heating pad to relieve pain. The other pieces are revolving around the two main garments. I wanted to focus on creating one cohesive look that the everyday teenage girl could be comfortable in but also be able to wear it while working out. Comfort, peace, and functionality are the three main points of my collection for CSI Fall 2021.
What was one of the highlights of the 9-month program? The main highlight of the program was working closely with 12 brilliant women. That was my first time ever working so closely with women in a creative atmosphere. We went through so much together and it truly brought us together as a united front. Through it all, we were able to work great together and still be able to become great friends in the process.
What are your career goals and how is FIDM helping you get there? My goal out of college is to be a product developer for a company that designs women’s plus size clothing zoning in on the athleisure industry. I became even more driven to be a part of this industry because as a plus-size woman myself I can see there is a need for there to be more designers and product developers, to truly understand how clothing fits on curvy bodies. Ultimately, I hope to one day have my own plus-size company myself. Through FIDM, I have been able to build a large array of contacts and mentors who have been able to teach me the business and the way in which the industry works.
We’d also like to hear how you're coping with the lockdown. What are you doing to stay inspired at home during these challenging times? With more time on my hands, I have been finding inspiration from all different platforms: podcasts, Pinterest, social media platforms, and even nature. I have pushed myself to learn more in other career fields like science which I wouldn’t normally focus on being in school.
How are you showing up for your community, your career, and yourself right now? The main thing I have focused on is supporting small businesses in my hometown. I have primarily only shopped locally since the quarantine has begun. Being back in rural North Dakota I haven’t been able to do much for my career other than tweak my portfolio and research the job market in Los Angeles.
What brands are inspiring you right now, in terms of their response to the needs of the world during this pandemic? The brands that truly amaze me are the small apparel brands who have transitioned their usual line of work from garments to mask making. I personally have seen how much this has positively affected communities due to the fact a friend of mine turned her company overnight into full-blown solely making masks.
What are you most looking forward to once the pandemic is over? I look forward to a normal day—one in which I can wake up and walk to work and be productive again. I truly miss day-to-day life in the most normal sense. I also miss LA weather.
Anything else you’d like to share? I just want to give a special shout out to Shailey, Jessi, Michelle, Ellie, Burghandi, Lauren, Ida, Melyka, Tina, Tori, Skylar, and Kim for being an incredible group of women to work with. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it through this incredibly challenging yet so rewarding year!
Keep up with Abbie Watkins on Instagram @abbiejwatkins.