Alumni Insights

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

Becoming a fashion designer was always something that appealed to me when I was growing up. I used to sketch on the corners of my notebooks when I was bored in class. So when it came to applying to universities, the Ryerson Fashion program was a no-brainer. I always had my sights set on that program.

I grew up seeing Karl Lagerfeld sketching on TV and figured that’s how design worked but once I started the Fashion Design program, I realized it was much more challenging for me. Sewing was not my forte. Despite this, design was always on my mind and something I wanted to pursue. I didn’t even know fashion illustration existed till I got to Ryerson.  

Tell us a little bit more about how you got into your role as Fashion Illustrator & Creative Director of eighty seventh ST., and the responsibilities your job entails.

When I left Ryerson I knew my skills were in illustration, not sewing or technical design. So I wanted to focus on that. I couldn't get published in magazines as illustration wasn’t a big deal in 2009. At that time someone suggested to me to do stationery. I began by developing a line of card designs and started pedaling them around Toronto. Once I had interest from a couple of retailers that's when I started learning about manufacturing. As my stuff started appearing on shelves, people started to reach out to me about other business opportunities. It all happened very organically. There was no Instagram at the time, so my business developed mostly through word of mouth.

Today, my main business is greeting cards and stationery. We wholesale to retailers across Canada and the United States, including Nordstrom. We also work with a lot of private clients and do commission work. I create all the illustrations and then have help on the production side. It's a lot of work but hopefully it will get to a point that it's not manageable because that means we are growing and that's good!

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing your job and field?

The best part about Ryerson was the internship opportunity. From a networking perspective, it was the most important thing for me. Learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator was also important because a lot of marketing and communication is done digitally. I also made great friends that I continue to collaborate with today. 

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about your time at Ryerson Fashion?

I am really grateful for the whole experience. The workload was great training: learning how to meet a deadline, how to stick to a project, and get things done. I may have benefited more from the Communications program but I don't have any regrets because the Design program helped me get to where I am today.

What does a day in the life of Monica look like?

Every day is different; it depends what is going on. Typically, I wake up and go to the gym and am in the office by ten. It's a lot of answering emails, invoicing, following up on customers. Designing happens in the evenings and weekends because that's when people don't email me. There is no set routine. Each part of my day includes social media reach out to connect with customers and followers. Mainly, I am focused on making clients happy during the week and then the weekend is for catching up on what I need to do to propel the brand forward.

What do you find are the most enjoyable and challenging parts of your job?

The most challenging part is having to keep track of all the little details like taxes, invoicing, banking and shipping. You have to stay organized and that’s not always fun. The best part is that I get to be creative and work with creative people who are open to my ideas. I have been very fortunate. Different projects have come along and allowed me to work on projects beyond stationery. I enjoy working with different people and brands to help bring their ideas to life and help collaborate.

Do you have an area of expertise or research you want to grow and learn about?

I am always keeping my eyes open to new ideas and trends and thinking about ways to elevate the brand. The retail industry has changed a lot since I started out. A lot of retail is moving online. A lot is switching over to more personable experiences. Everyone is trying to compete with Amazon. A lot of people are looking to social media for where to buy and how to connect with the brands they like. More than ever before you have to make a case for your brand: it's not just about the product anymore. It's more about branding and how you reach out to a customer. You have to be aware of what is around you and find out how you fit into the landscape.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

I have one foot in the industry and one foot out. I think that's the best way to do it because when your totally immersed in it you get lost. A lot of my collaborators are in the fashion industry. Fashion is the main inspiration behind our brand and what we do. It's so important to support it and stand behind it.

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in starting their own business?

You have to be in it for the long haul. It doesn't happen overnight or over a year. It’s something you have to build upon that constantly changes and grows. Have a vision, constantly be aware of what is around you, and be open to keep growing. Social media is a great tool. People can see how your ideas are changing and growing. The best advice someone gave to me was: "keep putting stuff out there and something will catch on."

Monica Smiley

Fashion Illustrator & Creative Director, eighty seventh ST.

MONICA SMILEY GRADUATED FROM THE FASHION DESIGN PROGRAM IN 2009 AND IS CURRENTLY RUNNING HER OWN BUSINESS AS A FASHION ILLUSTRATOR & CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF eighty seventh ST.

Tailored Torontonian, Illustrated by Monica Smiley
Timeless in Tokyo, Illustrated by Monica Smiley
Merci Bicyclette, Illustrated by Monica Smiley
Model Mama, Illustrated by Monica Smiley
Champagne Birthday, Illustrated by Monica Smiley
Cape Town Cutie, Illustrated by Monica Smiley
Image of Katie Knoll

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

I knew I was going to attend the Ryerson Fashion program pretty early on. While in middle school, before I knew much about fashion or what I wanted to be, and before I had ever started thinking about my future, my dad, a Ryerson Alumnae, told me about the Fashion program and how he thought it would be the perfect fit for me. I remember he told me that back when he was the editor-in-chief of the Eyeopener, he would be one of the only students on campus over the weekends--save for the fashion students. The main thing he told me about the program was how hard the students worked, but this only made me more interested. By my senior year of high school, I was so confident in my decision, it was the only program I applied for. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in fashion and that Ryerson would be able to give me a well-rounded experience.

Tell us a little bit more about what you do as an Accessories Assistant at Vogue Magazine.

As an Accessories Assistant at Vogue, I help the market editors with daily tasks including taking responsibility of the samples and the closet, creating and organizing trend boards, liaising with PR contacts from around the world, and preparing for and assisting on set for the photoshoots that grace the pages of Vogue. It's a very fast paced environment with always something new and no two days alike.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing your job and field?

I think what led me to this position as well as what led me to be interested in the editorial world was the internship experiences we were encouraged to pursue throughout the 4 years at Ryerson. Without these internships I would have never been able to gain the experience necessary to get where I am, and it also allowed me to test different opportunities and discover where my interests lie. 

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about your time at Ryerson Fashion?

If I had the opportunity to redo my time at Ryerson, I probably would try to take even more advantage of the internship program. It is a tough industry once you leave school, and with strict interning laws, it can be difficult to get the experience you need. I think I would have started earlier on in order to broaden the companies that I worked for. 

It must be really exciting working at Vogue Magazine. What does a day in the life of Katie Knoll look like?

A day in my life at Vogue isn't as exciting as it may seem. I work very long hours, but there is constantly new things happening around the office, especially when prepping for each of our stories, where we are receiving the best of the best of the season's current accessories. There is of course a lot of administration tasks involved with the job, however each one is a valuable learning experience. 

What do you find are the most enjoyable and challenging parts of your job? 

The most challenging part of the job is probably the pace. I'm used to working in ever-changing, fast-paced environments but Vogue is another level of speed. It takes a bit of getting used to but being adaptable and working accurately and quickly an incredibly important skill to have. The most exciting part of the job is each month when we get our early issues of the magazine. Seeing the finalized cover and stories within, and all the hard work we put in months prior, is really rewarding.

Do you have an area of expertise or research you want to grow and learn about?

The subject of diversity, especially in today's social and political society, is really important to embrace, understand and learn more about. I'm really glad Ryerson focused so much on the subject and I feel that after graduation and the beginning of my career, fashion in New York City as well as Vogue are really trying to bring more diverse visuals and points of view into the industry. 

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry, especially in New York, the fashion capital of the world?

It's true: New York is the city that never sleeps and being here is a constant exciting experience. With many fashion companies either headquartering here or at least having a notable presence, there are a ton of opportunities that just aren't available elsewhere. In comparison to Toronto, the city I spent my entire life in before moving here, New York just feels bigger, with more chances to be involved. The industry is still very tight-knit and the networking opportunities are countless. 

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in working with accessories? 

Accessories are sort of like a specialization within fashion but entry-level PR or Editorial positions don't require any specific pre-requisites. Passion is obvious if you want to pursue a job in the accessories field and an acute attention to detail is also important, more so than with clothing, and especially within Vogue. The most important advice I can give though, that applies to any position in fashion, is to network and leave an impression at your internships and jobs. Fashion is truly about who you know, as much as it is about talent, and to get your foot in the door to be able to show off your skills, you need to use your contacts and not be afraid to ask for what you want. 

Katie Knoll

Accessories Assistant, Vogue Magazine

Katie graduated from the Fashion Communication program in 2016 and is currently living and working in New York as an accessories assistant at Vogue Magazine

Amanda McGroarty

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

I’ve always loved fashion. I’m intrigued by how clothing can quickly transform a person’s appearance and mood. I chose Ryerson because I wanted a university experience with academic courses, while pursuing a design-based career.

Tell us a little bit more about what you do as a Design Assistant at Lululemon Athletica and the responsibilities your job entails.

The role of a Design Assistant at lululemon is to support the designers throughout the entire process of creating new garments. The work varies from administrative tasks, such as taking notes during fittings, to creative ones, such as research and mockup development. Design Assistants are also responsible for familiarizing themselves with lululemon’s fabrics, aesthetics, design methods and processes, and computer programs. This knowledge equips them to successful design their own styles as a Junior Designer.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing your job and field?

Ryerson taught me the technical skills of design – pattern drafting, construction, computer programs and so on. This foundation is so important for design positions in any apparel company. I also learned a great deal about the design process from start to finish, including market research, sketching and execution. I consistently use this knowledge in my current role. Finally, I developed a strong work ethic from all those late nights! I always knew I wanted to pursue a career at lululemon. I admire the company’s commitment to quality and innovation in product, as well as their commitment to the importance of community, fitness and overall well-being.

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about your time at Ryerson Fashion?

If I had to do it again, I would take knitwear as an elective. I consistently work with them now and I did not have much opportunity to explore knits in the main design courses. 

What does a day in the life of Amanda McGroarty look like?

I have definitely taken advantage of living in beautiful Vancouver! When I am not at work, I’m often hiking in the local mountains or biking along the Seawall. Spending time in nature keeps me grounded. I also love to cook healthy meals and practice yoga.

What do you find are the most enjoyable and challenging parts of your job?

My team is amazing; it’s inspiring to work with supportive and creative people everyday. I also love working on Illustrator – which is good because that’s where I currently spend most of my time! The most challenging aspect of my position, as with any design role, is the subjective nature of it. It can be discouraging when others don’t like your ideas, but so great when they do! You need to be able to handle constructive criticism, while believing in yourself.

Do you have an area of expertise or research you want to grow and learn about?

I’m interested in learning more about product development. Product developers are responsible for bringing the designers’ ideas to life. They look at design through a technical lens and figure out the best way to execute a garment from start to finish.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

My favourite part about working in the fashion industry, and specifically in athletic wear, is the innovation in technology and fabrics. New technology, such as laser cutting, embossing, and bonding, provides designers with unique tools and greater opportunity for creativity. Innovation in textiles continually advances products. This can transform a simple jacket into one that is water resistant, reflective or anti-stink. I’m very excited to see where these innovations are headed!

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in working with athletic wear?

Athletic wear is a combination of fashion, function and fit. For example, mesh paneling can be used to add texture and visual interest to a garment, while increasing ventilation for rigorous workouts. As well, besides looking stylish, the pieces must feel good on the body to provide maximum comfort.

Amanda McGroarty

Design Assistant at Lululemon Athletica

Graduated from Ryerson's Fashion Design program Amanda is now the Design Assistant at Lululemon Athletica. Familiarizing herself with Lululemons innovative fabrics, aesthetic and designs, she shares her experiences and success.

Look 1 by Amanda McGroarty, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 2 by Amanda McGroarty, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 3 by Amanda McGroarty, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 4 by Amanda McGroarty, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 5 by Amanda McGroarty, Mass Exodus 2016
Holly Seymour

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

When I began researching fashion schools in Canada, Ryerson was always mentioned as one of the only schools that offered a degree program for fashion. I felt that not only would I get the best education but I would also have access to industry contacts. Four years of education was also a good amount of time to learn about which area of the industry I wanted to work in and grow as a designer. It was really exciting to think about Mass Exodus as prior to Ryerson I never had the opportunity to participate in a fashion show. Ultimately, I felt that Ryerson would help prepare me for my career.

Tell us a little bit more about what you do as Fur Finisher at Four Seasons Fur?  

I’m a design assistant at Four Seasons Fur. I work closely with the in house designer helping him with patterns, sewing, finishing fur garments and helping with customers. I also work with my own clients to produce their designs through pattern drafting, grading, working with the fur technicians and finishing final pieces.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today?

The academic experience at Ryerson helped provide me with basic design skills and made me value strict deadlines. Even though I’m not in school anymore I still have deadlines that I’m required to meet and incompletes aren’t an option. I feel more prepared now because of the workload I experienced at school in conjunction with internships. Fourth year was the best example of what we were to expect when working in the fashion industry. I’m really glad I produced my collection in fourth year because it helped me push myself creatively and also forced me to become more skilled and efficient in production. I also felt my internships were really important because I learnt so much on the job that I wouldn’t have been taught in school. My internship experience at Four Seasons Fur also helped me land my current job so it was beneficial from both an academic and career standpoint.

What led to your interest in working with fur?

A few of my friends were already interning at Four Seasons Fur and were really enjoying it. I went to visit them one day to experience what they had been raving about; I started helping and then it snowballed into an internship. My interest in fur grew as I interned with Four Seasons Fur. I realized it combined skills I already had from previous work experiences but it also offered new challenges as fur was a new material to me. I was also always interested in outerwear and fur is usually featured in outerwear so I felt it was a great skill to learn.

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about your time at Ryerson Fashion?

If could go back in time I would take the fur class as my friend Jovalene had suggested. I could have had more time and experience to design a fur garment prior to my internship. It also would have been fun to enter the fur competitions because it’s a great opportunity to learn about the fur industry and to work with fur. I should have been more open to taking new learning opportunities.

What does a day in the life of Holly Seymour look like?

I start my day by saying good morning to my coworkers and discussing with my boss what urgently needs to be done. I usually have lots of pieces that require minor alterations or repairs. Other times my job for the day is to completely close a coat from start to finish; this process usually takes a day or so to complete. Sometimes my day will be broken up by helping with customers, answering the telephone and conducting meetings with my clients. 

What do you find are the most enjoyable and challenging parts of your job and working with fur in particular?

The most enjoyable part of my job is that I get to handle fur all day and that it's mostly custom work. I always feel like I’m working on something new and not producing the same garment over and over again. A challenging part about my job is that I do a lot of repairs and alterations on furs and sometimes they’re really delicate to work on. This process can be time consuming which requires a bit of patience.

Do you have an area of expertise or research you want to grow and learn about?

Most of my work experience has been with smaller companies who don’t use computer aided design in production. Since taking the CAD courses at Ryerson I haven’t utilized those skills in the workplace nor have I experienced larger scale production. I would love to have the opportunity to gain more experience in these areas.

What is your favorite part about working in the Canadian Fashion industry?

My favorite part about working in the Canadian Fashion industry is that it's small and everyone knows everyone, so to speak. It's nice to run into people who you met in school such as fellow graduates, teachers and other industry professionals. You’re able to start building important connections as a student and carry them into your career.

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in working with fur design?

My advice for a student interested in working with fur would be to start researching brands that are currently using fur in their collections. Some of the brands are doing really innovative techniques with fur that make the material really fresh and exciting. Take the fur class when it's offered and try and challenge yourself by designing and pattern drafting a fur garment. Enter the competitions for fur because it gives you the opportunity to work with the material. Internships with furriers are also beneficial and interesting because you’re able to get hands on experience. As well, if you’re able to find an old fur coat look at how it has been sewn–maybe even open up the lining and look at the interior details. It will give a great insight into the type of work that goes into a fur garment. 

Holly Seymour

Design assistant, Four Seasons Fur

Graduating from the fashion design program at Ryerson in 2016, Holly is now working as the design assistant at Four Seasons Fur working closely along side in house designers while drafting, grading, and altering final pieces.

Holly Seymour
Holly Seymour
Holly Seymour
Look 1 by Holly Seymour, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 2 by Holly Seymour, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 3 by Holly Seymour, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 4 by Holly Seymour, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 5 by Holly Seymour, Mass Exodus 2016
Woo Ram Kim

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

During my childhood, I always had an interest in creating things with my hands more so than anything else, but was never really exposed to the creative industry. This naturally led me to choose business as my beginning career path, but I quickly realized that I needed to do something more creative and practical instead. The fashion industry seemed to have well encompass both the business and the creative aspect, which led me to make the move and apply for the Fashion Design program at Ryerson. It was the single most impulsive and consequential decision I have ever made.

Tell us a little bit more about what you do as a Sourcing Assistant at Joe Fresh, and the responsibilities your job entails. 

My main objective as a Sourcing Assistant is to work with the vendors to ensure that the production process is streamlined and as error free as possible. This entails ensuring that our products meet the quality and aesthetic standards that the customers will appreciate. Other responsibilities include keeping close track of time to maintain delivery of goods being shipped from the factories, and securing cost of the products. 

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing your job and field? 

The courses at Ryerson Fashion are crucial from start to finish. The program helps to identify the key components that make up the industry within a 4 year time frame. It personally helped me find a balance between my weakness in creative thinking and my strength in technical skills. This is reflected in my current job, where I am required to use creative & critical thinking skills to solve a problem, within the parameters & standards set by the company. 

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about your time at Ryerson Fashion? 

During my time at Ryerson, I was forced to leave my comfort zone and explore a variety of areas. I also had diffuclty managing the countless projects and assignments of this demanding program. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would definitely prepare for Ryerson Fashion by improving my organization and time management skills.

What does a day in the life of Woo Ram Kim look like?

My day starts with organizing emails received from our vendor partners. The emails consist of simple questions to complicated issues. I first go through all of them, and then sort them by their importance. I then print out the most urgent emails and prioritize, just so I would not get sidetracked by other less important emails. The rest of the day is dedicated mostly to providing comments on submissions that the vendor sends for approval. These are hard copy submissions containing the necessary information that make up a garment, and each of these components must be reviewed at our end before the vendors proceed with production. 

What do you find are the most enjoyable and challenging parts of your job? 

New challenges are a daily occurance. Problems will inevitably occur during production no matter how streamlined the process is. Regardless whether it was an unforeseen accident or a trivial error that snowballed to become disastrous, it is your responsibility to yield the best outcome. Just with any challenges, a big reward of gratitude and relief awaits once you resolve the problem.

Also the team! At the end of the day, your colleagues are your friends, family, supporters, and teachers. Forming a strong bond between your colleagues through acting with integrity, respect and openness is key when it comes to making your job more enjoyable. I have learned that it also creates a synergy effect of getting work done faster, more effectively, while building a more enthusiastic work environment. 

Do you have an area of expertise or research you want to grow and learn about?

I would like to broaden my knowledge in the product development sector. Since sourcing and production and product development are closely knit together, learning more about the role would help me grow my potential in my current position and improve performance quality. 

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

You are constantly stimulated with inspirations and creative individuals in the industry, which really makes you feel lively and motivated.

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in working in sourcing? 

I believe the two most fundamental assets needed to succeed as a sourcing assistant are organization and communication skills. If you are a natural with these two skills, you are already halfway there and should consider working in sourcing. Of course these skills should be backed up by a broad knowledge taught through the curriculum, so ensure you start taking accurate notes in class.  

Woo Ram Kim

Sourcing Assistant, Joe Fresh

Woo Kim graduated from the Fashion Design program in 2016 and is now a Sourcing Assistant for Joe Fresh, collaborating with vendors and suppliers to optimize the production process.

Look 1 by Woo Ram Kim, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 2 by Woo Ram Kim, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 3 by Woo Ram Kim, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 4 by Woo Ram Kim, Mass Exodus 2016
Look 5 by Woo Ram Kim, Mass Exodus 2016
Mary Young

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

I originally studied fashion design at George Brown college but found it wasn't preparing me enough for the workplace after school. During my first year at George Brown I applied to Ryerson for the Fashion Communications Program since it offered a variety of courses that would apply to many different jobs. Upon doing research of the school and program I realized it would be a great blend of college based hands on courses along with the more academic structure of University. I wanted to make sure my education properly prepared me for the workplace and gave me a variety of skills to work a variety of positions within fashion.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing your job and field?

My academic experience at Ryerson really prepared me for where I'm at now. I currently am the CEO & Designer of my namesake womenswear lingerie and loungewear line. My time at Ryerson focused on time management and the ability to balance multiple projects at once, which is a huge part of what I do right now. I personally believe the variety of courses I studied at Ryerson gave me a full understanding of how to build and grow a brand. 

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

To be honest, I don't think I would have changed very much about my time at Ryerson. I do wish I applied for a position for Mass Exodus but at the same time, focusing on typography has given me a lot of skills I use daily. If it would be possible to do both I definitely would have!

What does a day in the life of Mary Young look like?

My everyday is completely different but it often starts with emails. Being an entrepreneur means wearing a lot of different hats, some days I'm working on designs or meeting with influencers to go over new styles and how we can work together. Other days I'm focused on production, managing delivery time lines for materials and production schedule for shipping to retailers. Some of my favourite days are when I get to be more hands on and creative, heading to a studio to produce new content and shoot new pieces is always the most exciting. 

What is your favorite part about your job?

My favourite part of my job is being able to connect with my target audience and affect their thinking on self love. The main focus of the brand is to encourage women to wear garments that make them feel comfortable and confident, embracing their natural shape rather than trying to conform to what the industry defines as sexy. When I hear feedback from customers on how the pieces feel so soft and comfortable as well as empowering is all the motivation I need to keep going.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?

I personally love marketing and strategizing business growth. This is something I learnt very little about at Ryerson, with only two marketing classes, but I love it. I think it's extremely important to know how to connect to your audience and engage with them. Business growth is also very important, knowing how to shape and structure a company to provide space for growth is so exciting.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

My favourite part of working in the fashion industry is being surrounded by so much creativity and inspiration at all times. I tend to feel very unmotivated and sluggish without design around me, whether it's an interior space, a magazine or Pinterest, seeing images or spaces of beauty really encourage me to stay focused and motivated.

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Fashion Design and starting their own line?

To anyone interested in starting their own line I definitely recommend learning your area of expertise and focusing on that. Trying to do everything can be overwhelming and is often counterproductive. When you first start a business it's important to know all the areas of the company but as you grow knowing your strong areas is important. You can then find others to fill in your weaker areas and together you will all be working in your areas of strength to grow the line.

Mary Young

CEO & Designer at MARY YOUNG

Mary is passionate about bringing body positivity into fashion and is doing so through her namesake womenswear lingerie and loungewear line.

Yazmin Butcher Headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson? 

I attended the Fashion program at Ryerson because it was something I knew I wanted to do since entering high school. I loved fashion – I grew up in a small town, so having my own unique sense of style was one of the few ways I was able to show my creativity. My mom was also a large influence; she would watch Fashion television religiously and wanted to become a fashion designer when she was younger. I just knew it was something I had to do.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today?

Ryerson definitely helped shape my work ethic. I never thought the Fashion program was going to be easy, but it was much more intense than I could have ever imagined. I wouldn't have it any other way though; without the constant push of assignments, I wouldn't be able to handle the workload I have today.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

I wouldn't change anything about my time at Ryerson! I made life-long friends and it got me to where I am today.

What does a day in the life of Yazmin Butcher look like? 

A day in the life of Yazmin is a little crazy. I work full-time at a production company called HangLoose Media/District 28 as their graphic designer/social media manager. I take care of the majority of design work for the restaurant (District 28 Bar Bistro), the shared workspaces, the studios and the event space. After my full-time job ends at 5pm, I bike home and work on GXXRLS, which is a creative agency I started with a friend that promotes collaboration and empowerment amongst women - specifically in the arts. We have a few projects on the go and a series called GXXRLS Tour, that focuses on three women in the city who are inspiring and making moves in their specific field, is currently under way. After I've worked on that, I start my other freelance work, which ranges from branding to illustrations to layouts. I'm extremely busy, but am constantly trying to learn new things and expand my skill set.

What is your favorite part about your job?

I get to be creative! There is nothing I love more than bringing wit and humour into my work.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about? 

I would love to learn more about animation. It is so interesting! I would love to be able to make my illustrations move, but maybe when I have more time on my hands haha.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry? 

I don't necessarily work directly in the Fashion Industry, though it does make its way into my work. I had previously done a lot of freelance work with The Collections, a Toronto based brand consulting and production firm, which was a lot fun because of the freedom to be creative and the bonus seeing familiar faces at World Mastercard Fashion Week. With GXXRLS, we produce photo and video content which involves our amazing team of hair/make-up and styling, so fashion comes into play. 

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Graphic Design and Art Direction?

My advice would be to practise! This is definitely a skill and one you can learn, but it's not easy. I do this everyday and I'm still learning. Be inspired by anything and everything– there are no boundaries when it comes to design!

Yazmin Butcher

Head Graphic Designer & Social Media Manager

Fashion Communication allowed Yazmin to utilize and unleash her creativity into everything she works on today.

Naomi Nachmani Headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

I’ve always been interested in fashion and art, a curiosity (to my parents displeasure) manifested in me haphazardly altering all of my clothes from a young age. By the time high school rolled around, however, I was designing and sewing a large portion of my wardrobe and began to look into different fashion programs. Ryerson had a great reputation and at the time was the only university program offering bachelor degree studies in fashion communication. It was important to me to find a balance between academia and the creative field, and Ryerson allowed just that.

Tell us more about your job and what you enjoy the most about it.

I’m currently the Coordinator, Brand and Creative Strategy at Holt Renfrew. The position is quite niche, as while we do “brand strategy,” we primarily do it within the lens of social responsibility. As part of that, my team manages a specialty department within Holt Renfrew called H Project, which supports culture, craft and artisans from around the world through the marketing, merchandising and sale of socially responsible products – whether they’re made by an artisan cooperative in Kenya, are environmentally produced, or have a charitable component. On top of that, we also drive Holt Renfrew’s Corporate Social Responsibility program. What I enjoy most about my position is being able to work within a company with almost 180 year roots in the fashion industry, and having the opportunity to propel it into the future in innovative ways – in turn, hopefully pushing the fashion industry in a socially responsible and sustainable direction.  

I also currently freelance write and am the Communications Director for Sophomore Magazine, a Toronto-based feminist fashion magazine for twenty-somethings.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today?

Ryerson was an extremely hands-on learning experience – from the very first semester we were reaching out and working with people in the Canadian fashion industry, forming those connections from day one. The internship program definitely propelled me into the industry much earlier than a traditional university experience might, which allowed me to graduate with several years of solid experience under my belt.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

If I could do it again, I would explore Ryerson’s student resources more thoroughly, and take advantage of the programs they offered. There were a lot of opportunities I wish I had taken advantage of that I wasn’t aware of at the time.

What does a day in the life of Naomi Nachmani look like? 

It’s busy! If there’s one major skill Ryerson taught me, it was how to multitask and properly time manage. Since I’m still at the beginning of my career and exploring different areas of interest, I’m definitely trying to milk that energy and take advantage of every opportunity while I can – whether it’s a freelance job outside of work, or an event invite, I think everything is worth exploring.  

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about? 

I’ve always been really drawn to the digital world. In university I interned at the fashion and lifestyle website Refinery29 and worked as Editorial Assistant at The Coveteur, both experiences that allowed me to view the inner workings of small digital companies. I found the interaction and consumption of digital content by consumers really interesting, and it’s definitely an area I would love to dive more deeply into moving forward.

What is your favorite part about working in the fashion industry? 

I love working in the fashion industry because it’s ever changing and open minded. Fashion is such an incredible platform to showcase creativity and explore one’s self, and because it changes so quickly season to season, it really forces you to push yourself and your brand outside of your comfort zone to remain relevant.

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in brand strategy?

I think it’s important to explore many different areas of work and life and really understand all the sides of the industry. If you want a program to be successful, you need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of everyone involved, from the sales team, to the media, to the consumer. You need to understand what makes them all tick and what they’ll respond to, and without ever being in those positions yourself, that’s difficult to do.

Naomi Nachmani

Brand and Creative Strategy Coordinator, Holt Renfrew

Naomi graduated from Fashion Communication in 2014 and is now working for Holt Renfrew, dealing with brand strategy and social responsibility.

Gracie Carroll Headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

When I was in high school I decided I wanted to study fashion communication in post-secondary and the Ryerson program is the best in Canada. Naturally, that's the one I wanted to go to.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing your job and field?

What attracted me most to the Ryerson Fashion Communication program was how well-rounded it is. So many of the skills I acquired–especially the ones I didn't expect to use very much like graphic and web design—have helped me throughout my career.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

I would have paid more attention and tried harder in my graphic design, web design and video editing classes. At the time I thought they were a waste of time because "I would never use any of those skills" but fast-forward ten years later and they're the skills I use and need the most!

What does a day in the life of Gracie Carroll look like?

Every day is different, which is why I love it. A lot of my days are spent blogging (obviously) and updating social media, but you'll also find me running around the city to get to meetings with PR agencies and clients, and attending events in the evenings. Of course there are a fair amount of photo and video shoots involved as well. It can get a little hectic but it's always fun.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Getting to take part in incredible experiences that I wouldn't have been able to do without my blog.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?

I launched my YouTube channel this year so honing my video production and editing skills is top of my list at the moment.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

I honestly don't think anyone truly understands what it means to 'get it done' and FAST unless you're in the fashion industry.

From reading your blog, it looks like you are up to many different things! How do you juggle your time to work on lots of different projects?

Along with my site GracieCarroll.com, I'm the founder of TheChicCanuck.com and the Toronto Localist-at-Large for FLARE Magazine. It's never easy to juggle everything. I've just become very used to working 18-hour days on the regular.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in having an entrepreneurial career like yours and wish to make a living out of blogging?

There is a lot of opportunity to make a living from a blog. It's important to be business savvy to help you grow, but more importantly you need to ensure you are creating content that is unique and interesting. 

Gracie Carroll

Founder and Editor at GracieCarroll.com

After graduating from the Fashion Communication program, Gracie found a career in being a blogger.

Gracie Carroll We The North Jacket and skirt
Gracie Carroll striped navy skirt
Leonie Headshot

What are your research interests/areas?

I am very interested in sustainable fashion. My research focuses on topics related to ecological and ethical fashion and garments.

Where are you now and how has your degree aided you in your current position?

I am a designer and researcher. I just launched a sustainable fashion brand, Gaia & Dubos, where we offer ecological and ethical high-end garments for women. We also educate people about the issues of the fashion industry through a blog and online courses. The MA Fashion degree really helped me to do serious research in order to make better choices and to educate consumers. It really helped orientate my company. In point of fact, my Major Research Project is market research for my business.

Who’s your favourite fashion theorist or practitioner and why?

Kate Fletcher, pioneer of slow fashion. She is brilliant, critical, and offers great insights about fashion and the way we buy, perceive and use our clothes.

What interests you most about the discipline of Fashion Studies?

Again, sustainability and all of the areas that are connected to it. It can be super deep and vast, so there are millions of sub-topics and aspects to consider.

What item in your wardrobe could you never part with and why?

A vintage brown coat with a fur collar. It is so pretty! When I wear it, I get compliments everywhere and from everybody! Some people even stop me to take photographs! I love the style, the silhouette, and the way it looks on me.

What course did you most enjoy and why?

“Sustainability in Fashion” offered great insights about every topic related to sustainability. We had various guest speakers to deepen our knowledge and perception of ecological and ethical fashion, and the professor, Dr. Lu Ann Lafrenz, is simply amazing. She knows a lot and is very open-minded.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d pass on to a student interested in applying to the program?

This is not a masters where you create only with your hands. It is very intellectual and you need to be ready to think and be critical.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and/or what’s your dream job?

I will have developed Gaia & Dubos, my brand, even further and will live on it. I will have employees to help me with the production and distribution, and it will be well established and known as a sustainable fashion company.

Léonie Daignault-Leclerc

Designer and Researcher, Gaia & Dubos

Léonie is passionate about sustainable fashion and is aiming to grow her own personal sustainable brand, Gaia & Dubos.

Gaia & Dubos lace top
Gaia & Dubos lace top
Gaia & Dubos top
Gaia & Dubos floral dress
Gaia & Dubos floral dress
Gaia & Dubos blue tunic
Gaia & Dubos blue tunic