Grad Develops Pillow Line While Pursuing Master's Degree
By the age of six, Veronica Enrique was acting in Christmas plays and singing for her family. Her performing arts experience led to an interest in the visual arts. “Soon, I found myself drawing, painting, and sewing,” says the Antioch, California native. “I painted my dresser, my sister’s door, upcycled objects before it was trendy, and dressed up my siblings to stage photoshoots with them.” Although she describes her path to FIDM as “not linear, but more of a curved line and a big loop at the end,” Veronica earned a Professional Designation A.A. in Merchandise Product Development in 2009, and went on to work for companies such as Bloomingdale’s, BCBG Max Azria, and Neiman Marcus Group. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Communication Management at USC and is in the process of developing her own functional pillow line. We recently chatted with Veronica to learn more.
What was your path to FIDM like? As a first-generation American, my parents wanted me to either attend law school or become a nurse. In both of their cultures, education was valued; they were both extremely strict about our studies and had great influence on our college and career choices. They were not going to support me going to FIDM after high school. They would tell me my creativity was a hobby, not a career. As a dutiful mixed-race child, I put my dream on hold indefinitely. So, I attended San Diego State University and graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing with an emphasis in Integrated Marketing Communications.
Two years after my SDSU graduation, and after my first job out of college, I applied to a few MBA programs and got rejected from all of them. Devastated but wanting to continue my education, I remembered FIDM, a suppressed dream. I started the admissions process by taking the test to see which major was best for me. After that, an Admissions Advisor called me to set up a meeting. Days later, I was sending in my application. When I was presenting my entrance project I was calm and felt peace. Applying to FIDM, on my own, without the help of my parents, was so gratifying. I felt that my creative self finally had a place to belong. FIDM was always there, waiting for me to walk through the doors, and all I had to do was take the initiative.
Which campus did you attend? I started my degree in San Diego and I took my Technical Drawing class at the Los Angeles campus. After my first quarter in San Diego, I transferred to the San Francisco campus and graduated from there in September 2009.
Any favorite FIDM memories? I enjoyed the organized chaos of being backstage as a dresser for a St. Jude charity event in San Diego and for the DEBUT Show 2008 in San Francisco. Also, during a field trip to the Orange County campus, we toured Harveys’ manufacturing facility in Santa Ana. The bags were made by hand and it shifted my whole idea of what I thought a manufacturer was. The Apparel Process and Applied Technology courses were my favorites. I cherished my formal education about apparel construction.
How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? Before I was due to graduate, I attended a FIDM career fair. I spoke with a Bloomingdale's representative, who was also the Human Resource Manager, and she set up my interview with the Merchandising Department. For the interview, I created a portfolio of my favorite FIDM assignments and work samples from my internship. This position was highly sought after and was usually filled internally. I had just finished my Fit Analysis class and was carrying my final project board with me. The hiring managers were so interested in it and wanted me to present the project to them, so I did! I felt that helped start our working relationship on a good note. Simply stated, FIDM on my resume helped me secure jobs in luxury fashion retail.
Tell us about the pillow line you are developing: I was looking for a new job last year and came across an email from the FIDM Alumni Newsletter promoting a seminar called “How to Succeed After FIDM” with Instructor Mark Colonomos. At the end of the seminar, he mentioned that he offered free counseling and I signed up. I pitched a business idea, but he pushed me to think deeper and that is when we came up with creating functional pillows. I was referred to meet with someone from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) with whom I am currently working with for my pillow line. I am creating prototypes and conducting market tests where I ask friends, family, and colleagues to try out the prototypes for a few weeks and offer feedback. I look forward to manufacturing, but I am moving carefully through this process.
Which FIDM resources have you utilized as a graduate? The FIDM Alumni Association and Career Center newsletters are where I get my information and updates from. If there are events that I can attend I do so. I utilize the FIDM Career Center Library links as well. They are free resources in the Portal that have links to industry specific information. These resources offer information that is far more concise than a generic web search. Currently, FIDM is holding webinars that I tune into to hear alumni share their stories about working in fashion.
What advice would you share with current students and new grads? To FIDM’s current students: get involved with the college via clubs, the Honor Society, sign up for trips, and apply for internships. To new graduates, congratulations! I wrestled a lot with my confidence working entry-level jobs and it made me depressed. What helped me get out of the depression was telling myself to not get discouraged by the job search and if my career goals take a bit longer, or the path is more curved than straight, to keep going, and I will get there. So, my advice to new graduates would be: keep working, keep your confidence up, and keep striving to do your best. Even if you do not have the prestigious, high paying job right after graduation, every role you have builds on the next. FIDM alumni hiring FIDM alumni is a real thing. This college is so good at producing graduates who are technically trained and it is a different showcase when you have a FIDM Graduate working next to a non-FIDM Graduate. There is a difference in technical skills, creativity, product knowledge, and attention to detail.