CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH – UNIVERSITY OF FASHION STYLE

Happy Juneteenth!

In celebration of Juneteenth, we’ve launched the first in our 5-part series on West African textiles taught by Mina Dia-Stevens. Mina’s first lesson covers the Faso Dan Fani Cloth of Burkina Faso and how this many hundreds-of-years-old textile, considered the woven loincloth of the homeland, was handed down from generation to generation. Not only is Faso Dan Fani Cloth the national symbol of Burkina Faso, it also commemorates the country’s emancipation from colonialism in 1960 and the country’s name change from The Republic of Upper Volta to Burkina Faso in 1984.

In this series, Mina discusses African textile yarns, threads, and the local, seasonal, and traditional materials that are native to specific West African countries. Mina also covers traditional methods of production and how the processes are still maintained and celebrated today. Her journey continues with lessons on the textiles of other West African countries such as Mali, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, so stay tuned!

The first in a 5-part series covering the textiles of West Africa by Mina Dia-Stevens: West African Textiles- Faso Dan Fani Cloth of Burkina Faso

Our newest Instructor: Mina Dia-Stevens (Photo credit Mina Dia-Stevens)

 Mina Dia-Stevens is a 19-year veteran of the fashion industry, as life-long creative, educator and design entrepreneur. As a faculty member for twelve years in the fashion department at Moore College of Art and Design, Mina provided instruction to second- and third-year design students, in the areas of pattern making, construction, illustration, and concept design, in the categories of menswear, swimwear, womenswear and childrenswear. She has also researched, established, and implemented, extensive curriculum for 9th, 10th, 11th– and 12th-grade creatives in the areas of fashion and textile design.

Mina’s professional experience includes various roles in the fashion industry ranging from designing junior activewear apparel to shoe design and trend consulting. Currently, Mina is involved in expanding her family’s West African textile business into the brand, Royal Fulani Living.

As a design entrepreneur, Mina fully understands the delicate balance between nurturing an independent artistic spirit with a business mind. Her philosophy as a creative and educator is based upon words that she vividly remembers hearing as a child:

“You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” –  Glinda from The Wizard of Oz

For Mina, this quote encompasses the mind, heart, and spirit of who she is as an educator of young visionaries. She not only leads her students through the educational process but nurtures their creativity for a lifetime. We are thrilled that Mina is now part of the distinguished instructors at UoF.

Image courtesy: Custom Collaborative 

Celebrating Our 2-year Anniversary with Custom Collaborative

We are also celebrating our 2-year partnership with Custom Collaborative, a New York City-based entrepreneurship and workforce development program, founded in 2015, that trains and empowers low-income and immigrant women of color to start careers in the fashion industry.

Since 2020, Custom Collaborative’s fashion-preneurs have expressed their appreciation to us in both words and deeds, for donating full access to our fashion education library.

Thank you for giving me the chance of membership and scholarship to increase my skill and to take a step forward in my life to support myself.”  ~ Kulwant Kaur

I would personally like to thank you for this amazing opportunity to participate in the University of Fashion.  I’m so excited and grateful for your generous gift.  I’ll give a 💯 and the best of abilities. Thank you for the beautiful blessings” ~ Regina Madison

It is an honor to be chosen for the University of Fashion scholarship. 

 I am truly grateful for this opportunity. This scholarship allows me to focus on my studies and additional work opportunities. Thank you for your support.” ~ María Isabel Espinoza

I never knew about this amazing opportunity until Custom Collaborative a few Wednesdays ago. I have been so hungry to learn more about garment construction and I am thankful to you for founding University of Fashion so I can learn and be exposed to much more. Thank You.” ~ Analisa Charles

Image courtesy: Custom Collaborative

Ngozi Okaro Executive Director Custom Collaborative (Photo: Heather Sten)

We’d like to give a special shout-out to CC’s executive Director Ngozi Okaro for her dedication in helping so many women reach their potential.

And how about Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic for The New York Times (and Constance C.R. White) who just recognized Custom Collaborative on June 17th in Vanessa’ s Open Thread column along with other hot Black-owned brands.

Fun Fact: Constance White gave me, Francesca Sterlacci, my first WWD cover!

So, as we celebrate Juneteenth, it’s a time for all of us to keep on supporting small businesses run by Black founders. Our new fav is Brooklyn-based Parron Allen, a soon to be UoF instructor, who specializes in super fab sustainable design clothing. Check him out and stay tuned…

So, tell us, how are you supporting Black brands?

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Francesca Sterlacci is the CEO of University of Fashion (UoF) which she founded in 2008 as the first online fashion video library bringing the art and craft of fashion design and business to schools, libraries, organizations and the general public. As owner of her eponymous label for ten years, her collection sold in fine stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Barneys and Nordstrom. As a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology for 11 years, she became Chair of the Fashion Design Department where she initiated the complete revision of their AAS and BFA degree programs, as well as wrote three certificate programs: Leather Fashion Design, Outerwear and Haute Couture. Francesca has also taught graduate level fashion design at the Academy of Art University San Francisco for six years, both on site and online. Her publishing accomplishments include: Leather Apparel Design, the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (First and Second Editions), the A-Z of the Fashion Industry, Leather Fashion Design and a 3-volume beginner series on Draping, Pattern Making and Sewing designed to complement the UoF lessons. She has also made literary contributions to both the Encyclopedia of Clothing & Fashion and You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Women. Francesca holds an AAS, BA and an MSEd (master’s degree in higher education).