The eighth annual Moda Magazine Univeristy of Wisconsin Fashion Week held its first panel event “Speaking Terms” Tuesday evening.
Industry leaders with a diverse range of experiences spoke to the community at the Play Circle Theater in Memorial Union. The panelists engaged in a Q&A session to discuss topics ranging from career building to the biggest challenges they have faced.
Rachel Cohen, a creative team member, artist and contributing writer for Moda, credited the idea to host a panel event to Geordon Wollner, creative director of Moda.
Cohen and Wollner, co-hosts of Tuesday’s Q&A, were determined to connect students in creative communities with industry professionals in an effort to give insights into their careers and encouragement for students’ futures.
“Giving students a chance to connect with people in the careers they hope to be in is an amazing opportunity,” Cohen said.
From entrepreneur to fashion extraordinaire, the panelists’ range of backgrounds provided great diversity in perspective.
One unifying element they each discussed was female empowerment. Each of the four women demonstrated to attendees how rewarding it can be to work hard and follow your dreams. A common theme discussed among the panelists was to never give up and always push yourself.
Ba Xiong, a stylist for designer online retailer ShopBop, started her career in the company’s fulfillment center before landing her dream as a stylist. For Deun Ivory, founder of “The Body: A Home for Love” — a community series centered on healing through visual storytelling — and art director for the Black Girl in Om podcast, following her passions has been her motto since graduating college.
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Other panelists included the established Camille Bergher, partner and creative director of Topson Downs — a private label manufacturer in California. Bergher started her company from the ground up, all while making sure raising her family remained a priority. Fellow entrepreneur Madalyn Manzeck has created her own lingerie business where she serves as the designer and owner of Madalyn Joy Designs in Milwaukee.
Following the hour-long event, panelists stayed behind, which allowed aspiring students to network and ask more questions.
“I loved having the chance to speak with such inspiring women who I wouldn’t typically meet,” Cohen said.
From explaining how their careers got started to offering advice for fashion-crazed and art enthusiast students, “Speaking Terms” provided a professional night of empowerment.
Moda’s UW Fashion Week kicked off Monday with “Moda Market,” a shopping event bringing together local artisans, retailers and designers.
Looking ahead, the organization is hosting a swap and shop event for clothing and accessories where all leftover products are donated, and a “Club Couture” event Thursday to showcase student and local designers’ work at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
The week will conclude with a Finale Fashion Show in Varsity Hall at Union South Friday at 8 p.m. Original student work will be the highlight of the show.