Smith Business: Design Fellow Takes On DC Fashion Week
Fall 2016 Issue Smith Business Magazine
Armed with a childhood of sewing skills and an internship at a custom clothier, Brittany McCoy ’16 set a lofty goal during her freshman year at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business: She would launch her own fashion line and feature it at DC Fashion Week.
“It was from that internship I realized I could do that on my own,” recalls McCoy, a May graduate who majored in marketing and supply chain management. “I decided to make that happen, and be the youngest designer at DC Fashion Week.”
Sure enough, after several courses in marketing and design, hours at the fabric store, some trial and error and sacrificed sleep, McCoy launched Dynasty By Brittany. She proudly showed the collection of "urban-chic" crop-tops, floor-length dresses, and faux-fur vests at DC Fashion Week in spring 2016.
"It was a great moment," she says. The reaction I got from the crowd was great, and there was a lot of press. It was definitely all worth it."
She credits most of her success to Smith's Strategic Design Fellows, a two-year program aimed at translating design and marketing into applicable business skills. Accepted students of the program participate in experiential learning where they pitch ideas to actual companies, develop solutions and present them. "That was really beneficial to see what the client-relationship would look like'" McCoy says.
Fellows also take relevant courses, including computer graphics and presentations, which McCoy says was instrumental in establishing her brand on paper.
"The program encourages them to have awareness of the importance of design in today's business world," says professor Mary Harms, the faculty champion who co-founded the program in 2009. "There is more interest today in design thinking as a way to solve problems."
One takeaway the Harms emphasizes with students is the importance of function in design, an influence she's seen reflected in McCoy's clothing line. McCoy herself describes her clothes as multifunctional, allowing customers to get the most use for their money.
McCoy aims to sell her clothes through boutiques around Washington, D.C. and New York, and to present at New York Fashion Week. She also organized UMD's first-ever Fashion Week through Masterpiece, an on-campus organization she co-founded for fashion entrepreneurs and other artists interested in pursuing a career in the retail industry.
It builds on the current network she formed through the fellows program, which she sees as incredibly valuable. "Not only are you gaining skills and knowledge," she says of the program, "you're also gaining future partners and a network of people you can reach out to whenever you need help."
About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.
This article was transcribed from the Smith Business Magazine Fall 2016 Issue. The digital copy of the original article is no longer available on the Smith School of Business website.