- Pittsburgh Public Schools
Brashear grad creates opportunity for current, future IUP students
IUP FASHION MERCHANDISING MAJOR CREATES OPPORTUNITY FOR CURRENT, FUTURE IUP STUDENTS Distribution Date: Dec. 5, 2022
INDIANA, Pa. –Indiana University of Pennsylvania fashion merchandising major Jordan Brown will be leaving IUP in December with a bachelor’s degree, but her commitment and initiative will impact IUP students for many years to come.
Brown, of Pittsburgh, organized taking 22 IUP fashion merchandising majors from freshmen to seniors, to work as volunteers for the fall 2022 Pittsburgh Fashion Week event on Sept. 21, held in downtown Pittsburgh.
As a result of the “professionalism and enthusiasm” of the IUP students (as noted by the Pittsburgh Fashion Week organizers), Brown then secured an opportunity for students to continue to work for Pittsburgh Fashion Week show and other events in the future.
Pittsburgh Fashion Week is an organization dedicating to growing the Pittsburgh fashion community through fashion shows and other community events. It is supported by the Downtown Neighbors Alliance,
Brown transferred to IUP from the Community College of Allegheny County in 2019. She had extensive experience as a model for Allegheny County stores, fashion designers and modeled and worked in marketing for Pittsburgh’s Fashion Week from 2015 to 2018, and also worked for five years in luxury sales in stores in Pittsburgh. She began modeling after winning a modeling competition in Pittsburgh at age 16.
While at CCAC, she also got experience in marketing internships, including at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and at WAMO radio.
“I thought I wanted to go into marketing, but I just couldn’t do a cubical corporate life,” Brown said. “I changed my major several times at CCAC – I loved fashion and modeling, and I loved marketing, but I didn’t realize that I could combine the two.
“I wasn’t sure what I would do next, and then I ran into my high school literature teacher (Brown graduated from Brashear High School in 2015), who encouraged me to follow my passions. I went back to CCAC and finished 12 more credits, learned about the IUP Fashion Merchandising program, applied, and got accepted,” she said.
She brought up the idea for IUP students to participate as volunteers for Pittsburgh Fashion Week during the spring 2022 semester with the IUP Fashion Association.
After determining student interest, Brown used her contacts with the Fashion Week administrators to secure the opportunity for IUP students, promising that her peers were talented and motivated. As soon as students returned for the fall semester, Brown worked to develop the roster of students who wanted to take advantage of the experience.
“All of the students had the chance to decide what they wanted to do – they could work in show production, hair and makeup, or assist one of the designers,” she said. “Four of the students actually got a chance to model on stage to fill in for models who dropped out at the last minute.
“This year’s event was the first show since the pandemic, so it was perfect timing all around – the students had a chance to really participate in the event and to network and make connections
with the show organizers and the designers,” she said. “One of the students who participated has already been contacted by one of the designers with the offer of an internship,” Brown said.
“As a freshman at CCAC, I talked to employers, and everyone said that they wanted to hire students who had experience,” she said. “Real-life experience really adds value to your degree,” she said.
After the success of the day, Brown contacted the Pittsburgh Fashion Week director to ask if the 2022 experience could turn into an ongoing opportunity, and received a written proposal from the director, inviting IUP students for the 2023 year and beyond, noting that “the students showcased professionalism and enthusiasm for fashion, and were an important component of the success of our show.”
Brown hopes that IUP can expand the Pittsburgh Fashion Week opportunity for students from majors outside of Fashion Merchandising. “They are also looking for students who want to work in photography, video, and social media for the event,” she said.
Brown, who is an active member of the IUP community and former participant and now mentor for the IUP Crimson Scholars program, talked informally with IUP Vice President Dr. Thomas Segar about the opportunity – “and he was completely on board,” she said.
“Dr. Segar was totally supportive and funded the coach bus for us to get to and from Pittsburgh,” she said. Brown was also asked by IUP Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Title IX coordinator Elise Glenn to present her project to Dr. Denise Pearson, vice chancellor and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education during Dr. Pearson’s recent visit to IUP.
“I really felt it was important for students to get this experience,” Brown said. “You need to try things to see if they fit you – does the passion and drive for that work click in for you.
“Gaining experience early allows you to create a better balance in your academics, too,” she said. “It’s a great complement to what you’re learning in the classroom, adds to your degree, and shows employees that you are a well-rounded person,” she said.
While Brown has had years of experience in the fashion world, the work of coordinating and leading the group offered her new challenges.
“Being in this leadership position made me a little more vulnerable, organizing a large group of people, with a lot of unpredictable as part of the day. I just had to allow it to flow. The students were amazing – they totally stepped up and did an excellent job, and they got a lot of positive attention and recognition, which helped them to feel more confident, while facing their fears of the unknown. Doing something like this allowed me to face my fears about organizing a large group of people,” she said.
After graduation, Brown would like to focus on the sales and business side of the fashion industry, perhaps as a client advisor or coordinator. She will also be focusing on her own fashion business, Mozell Fashions, and plans to work with the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh as she continues to build her own business. She will also continue to stay involved with the Pittsburgh Fashion Week program – which now includes staff member Maggie Putznell, a 2021 IUP graduate.
“I’ve had great professors at IUP who have really helped me to build my skills for the fashion merchandising business,” Brown said. “As I’ve gotten more experience, I realize that modeling and the business side go hand in hand.”