Two Wayne State University fashion design and merchandising students are spending the summer interning in New York after winning first place in the WindowsWear Mentorship Program competition.
Kate Martin won the Longchamp competition and a paid internship with Longchamp, while Maya Kasbah won the Coach competition and a paid internship with Coach.
“I am unbelievably excited to have earned this internship,” Martin said. “Working in fashion in NYC has always been my dream, and I really cannot believe that it is now my reality.”
For Kasbah, this opportunity has also been a long time coming.
“I have never been to New York City before, but I always talked about going,” she said. “I think that I may have manifested it. To be able to experience the city while working with such a large-scale brand is something out of a dream. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to develop my career.”
Several other Wayne State students excelled in the WindowsWear Mentorship Program, with Joseph Johnston earning second place in the Longchamp competition, Sam Abeme Nguema finishing in third place in the Coach competition and Lela Neal earning third place in the Kate Spade competition. Celine Garmo and Zoë Rogula were also finalists.
All of the Wayne State students who fared well in the competition were from Fashion Design and Merchandising Lecturer Monika Sinclair’s class. Sinclair requires her students to submit a proposal as a final project.
“If my students can receive more than just my encouragement and my letter grade from their work, then I’m all for it,” Sinclair said. “About half the students in my class made placement in this competition; some got a paid internship, which is rare these days. To me, the most important thing is they can use this as a tool on their resume or post It on their LinkedIn.
“I was very excited when I saw the results; however, I didn’t want students to think their grade was dependent on if they won or not,” she continued. “I told the class, ‘I’m assessing your projects before we get the results and I will make sure that your work is of industry standards before you submit it,’ but it’s exciting.”
According to WindowsWear.com CEO and Co-founder Jon Harari, the company uses the competition to bring together the brands affiliated with the website and college students who use the site.
“Students want to be engaged with brands, and brands want to be engaged with students,” Harari said. “I give a lot of credit to Monika. She sees the value in what we’re doing. Wayne State did awesome, and it gives her students job opportunities.”
Martin said that Longchamp asked students to design a window display concept that featured a Parisian cafe.
“I was inspired by Emma Chamberlain, a 21-year-old influencer who created her own sustainable coffee brand, and because of that inspiration, I wanted my window display to feature a collaboration between Longchamp and Chamberlain Coffee,” Martin said. “Longchamp said my concept was intriguing, a good showcase of my talent and it looked like a campaign.”
Kasbah designed an airline pop-up experience called “Air Coach.”
“I was inspired by the hospitality and aesthetic of airlines in the 1970s and first thought of the idea due to the name of the brand Coach, which made me think of coach seating on a plane,” Kasbah said.
“Coach informed me that they are currently working on an airplane concept for the brand,” she continued. “They loved the mood board references I presented with my concept, which ended up being very similar to what they first put together for their concept.”
Martin credited Wayne State and Sinclair for helping her win the competition.
“I love everything about Wayne State’s fashion design and merchandising program,” she said. “The professors are really knowledgeable, creative and supportive. Classes are never boring, and the lessons are very practical.
“I love Monika,” Martin continued. “Not only do I believe she was helpful during the process, but I don’t think I would have had a shot at the internship without her support and guidance. She stressed the importance of this competition and really pushed us to do our best. Her passion for fashion and her experience are so inspiring — we are so lucky to have her as our professor and mentor.”
Kasbah agreed with Martin, crediting Sinclair for inspiring her to succeed in the competition.
“Monika is incredibly encouraging. She constantly informs her students on opportunities outside of Wayne State,” Kasbah said. “If it weren’t for her, I would have never known about the WindowsWear Mentorship Program and would not be in the position I am in now to experience this opportunity. Monika was extremely helpful in the process of developing my concept, going over every little detail with me during one-on-one phone calls and making sure my work was of the highest quality.”