Kent State Students Host Annual Fashion Conference

Kent State University Fashion School students rarely get the chance to network with industry professionals, but Modista Fashion Group is changing that. Kent State University students have organized the University’s first ever Fashion Conference. This conference is put together and hosted by the student organization’s executive board with little to no support from outside or authority sources. Three years ago, the executive board, made up by eight undergraduate students, organized the first student-hosted fashion conference that Kent State University had ever seen. The MODIvation Conference was put together in order to bring industry elites and celebrities to Kent State to provide inspiration, background and information to students. Past speakers include an America’s Next Top Model winner, a celebrity stylist, fashion bloggers, and Project Runway All-Stars. This year’s annual conference hosted 120 attendees with five industry professionals and took place on November 17, 2018 in Kent State’s Student Center.

Place settings of the 2018 MODIvation Conference, ready for attendees to arrive.

Modista Fashion Group has just celebrated their 10-year-anniversary. Modista is the second largest fashion organization at Kent State University, and they have rapidly grown in recent years due to their annual MODIvation Conference. The executive board begins work months in advance of the event, researching and reaching out to hundreds of industry members and celebrities in order to bring the best of the best to Kent State. It has been a common theme in past years for students to secure internships, careers, and life-altering information all because of this six-hour conference. This year’s conference hosted Tad Boetcher, designer and consultant, Angela Wische, assistant buyer, Kasia Gibbs, product developer, Bibi Oubai, freelance intimate apparel engineer, and Stacey McKenzie, celebrity super model, entrepreneur and America’s Next Top Model personality. All speakers flew in from all over North America and Canada just for this conference.

The 2018 keynote speakers Tad Boetcher, Angela Wische, Stacey Mckenzie, Kasia Gibbs, and Bibi Oubai, respectively, pose for a photo.

The MODIvation Conference was created in order to bring together a largely diverse group of fashion industry professionals, that would not be brought together otherwise, in order to share their unique journeys. During the conference attendees were able to hear from speakers, attend breakout sessions in order to connect on a more personal level, explore career options and opportunities, gain advice and learn skills not taught in the classroom. Modista Fashion Group’s end goal is to show students how diverse the careers and options are for those who wish to be involved in the dynamic fashion industry.

Keynote speaker, Stacey Mckenzie, shares her advice on the world of modeling and entrepreneurship.

Modista Fashion Group’s President, Nazhary Jackson, has been a part of this conference from the very beginning. While she is not responsible for the original idea, she is the one who took the idea and made it into the success it is today. She remains impressed by the feedback the conference receives every year and is proud of the opportunities it has presented to Kent State’s students. “The Conference has provided a full opportunity of networking. Once I became the Vice President, I realized that this conference is something that could be really big at Kent State”, said Jackson.

MODIvation Conference attendees listen intently as Hillary Stone, Kent State Fashion School industry liaison, opens the Conference.

This year’s executive board is made up of Nazhary Jackson, senior, Janae Hardrick, junior, Keyanna Spann, sophomore, Montgomery Hujar, junior, Sarah McAtee, sophomore, Stacy Hovest, senior, Suzie Gourley, junior, and Taylor Nowakowski, junior. Nowakowski reported that, “Behind the scenes of the conference, we all contribute together. We all contribute the same amount, we all brainstorm ideas, and it really is a collaborative effort”. Each board member works above and beyond their given position description in order to make this conference a success.

Modista Fashion Group executive board members, Suzie Gourley, Sarah McAtee and Stacy Hovest, respectively, listen to Nazhary Jackson’s closing statements.

With a portion of the executive board graduating, Modista Fashion Group is prepared to undergo some changes and adjustments starting next year. They plan to make the MODIvation Conference a biennial event and will create a large fashion show on the in-between years. Dates and information have not yet been released for next year’s fashion show, but they are sure it will continue to impress Kent State University just as their conferences have.