Three Iowa State students selected as Fashion Scholarship Fund finalists


by Clara Toot

Glitz, glam and the big city are in three apparel, merchandising, and design (AMD) students’ near future, as they plan to attend the Fashion Scholarship Fund’s annual FSF Live gala in New York City this April. Katherine Haidvogel, senior in apparel merchandising and marketing, Megan Lenzi, senior in fashion communications, and Rebecca Parker, junior in fashion communications, were selected as Fashion Scholarship Fund’s (FSF) 2024 scholarship recipients, earning them each a ticket to the gala and introducing them to a wide network of fashion industry professionals.

Last year’s notable gala attendees included Anna Wintour, Karlie Kloss, Martha Stewart and Tommy Hilfiger just to name a few. During the weekend, the FSF also arranges company visits where scholars can tour various companies based in NYC and hear from employees on what it is like to work there. Attendees may also get a sneak peek at new collections. In years past, scholars visited the Conde Nast Offices, Kohls, Levi’s, Nordstrom and more.

Each year, FSF selects a prompt for scholarship applicants to address with a case study or professional presentation. This year’s scholarship prompt focused on Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance or ESG initiatives.

For her project, Haidvogel developed a sustainable marketing campaign for GapKids called #MindTheGap. #MindTheGap establishes a community-enriching partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of America, offering gently-used clothes to underprivileged communities. GapKids will also introduce the #MindTheGap Fairtrade Collection that meets the rigorous Fairtrade International standards, ensuring products are ESG conscious. The collection will be sold in select GapKids locations to support the #MindTheGap partnership with The Boys and Girls Club of America.

Haidvogel is a three-time recipient of FSF. This year, she was awarded an additional scholarship, David E. & Jacqueline S. Simon Charitable Foundation x FSF Scholarship. She reflected on the last three years.

“First and foremost I am most proud of being selected three years in a row as a FSF Scholar. This nationwide case study competition is highly competitive and I am so honored to have been selected three times in a row,” said Haidvogel. “I am also proud of myself for sticking with it all these years and to see my hard work pay off.

Lenzi completed a 21-page case study focusing on an adaptive jewelry collection for Tiffany & Co. She introduced a magnetic clasp closure strategy to their jewelry product offerings, aiming to make the jewelry industry accessible and inclusive for all. Furthermore, Lenzi was awarded the Neiman Marcus Group x Fashion Scholarship Fund scholarship, which supports ten scholars on their career journeys in sustainable and ethical fashion. Lenzi won this same scholarship last year and had the opportunity to learn from a Neiman Marcus merchandising executive, participate in programming and events, tour the Fashionphile office and attend the FSF gala dressed in sustainable Neiman Marcus designs.

“I’m so honored to be a Neiman Marcus Group x FSF Scholar this year and be recognized for the hard work and dedication that went into the case study competition,” Lenzi shared. “I feel inspired that others believe in this idea to make the jewelry industry accessible and inclusive for everyone. This recognition motivates me to continue striving towards creating positive change within the industry.”

Parker covered the environmental aspect in greatest depth in her Lululemon case study. By utilizing textile technology and researching University of Toronto’s special fabric coding, Parker developed a blueprint for a product line with reduced microplastics and stronger fiber, ensuring the apparel will last longer. Parker implemented corporate and social governance into her project by suggesting even more ways for Lululemon to grow in social and corporate sustainability, such as providing clean drinking water to underserved communities and offering more inclusive sizing.

“I am most proud of the research that went into this case study,” said Parker. “As a fashion communications concentration, I don’t always focus on the textiles and fabric side of things so I was proud that I was able to dive deeper into the design and merchandising side while creating a product line that genuinely could be produced in the future.”

The three scholars applauded the department of apparel, events and hospitality management’s support and the group of mentors who helped prepare them throughout the application process. The AESHM department offers a special class, AMD 490R, taught by Dr. Jessica Hurst, Mark Leslie and Jim Ryan. This course is designed to coach FSF applicants in their case study building process, exposing applicants to wide industry knowledge and guiding them through the entire process.

“It is really hard to put into words my appreciation for Mark, Jim, and Dr. Hurst because they have poured so much time and energy into my success. It is extremely rewarding to see how far I have come and I have them to thank for helping me get to this point,” said Haidvogel.

Lenzi agreed.

“I learned so much about merchandising and the retail industry, from 6-month sale plans to market research. The class is also very collaborative–it offers great opportunities to give and receive feedback on each other’s case studies,” she said.

Parker spoke about the wide range of skills each mentor possessed.

“They all have their different strengths. Jim is really great with design and branding, while Mark and Dr. Hurst are really good at numbers and the business side of things. They all helped me create a case study that I felt confident submitting,” Parker said.

Additional staff members have inspired these three students throughout their time at Iowa State University. All three women brought up Sarah Bennett-George as an impactful faculty member.

All three scholars have been heavily involved on campus. This year, Haidvogel and Lenzi serve as Managerial and Outreach Producers, respectively, for The Fashion Show 2024. Parker is a Special Events director for The Fashion Show as well.

Each scholar encouraged fellow students to apply for FSF, even if it may seem daunting. Iowa State’s resources and supportive mentorships helped these three women feel confident and ready to take on the big city.

To learn more about the Fashion Scholarship Fund, visit this link