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Featuring Kaley Suero, Geoffrey Beene Scholarship Recipient

March 26, 2017

 

 

How do you become eligible?

Every year the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund hosts a case competition where students from around the country can win $5,000 by putting together a business, design, or analytics solution for a retailer. My junior year I won the business case, which was on Birchbox and my senior year I won the analytics case, which was on the Etsy and Macy’s partnership. Each year one YMA winner from each school gets invited to participate in the Geoffrey Beene scholarship.

 

What is Geoffrey Beene?

It’s a national scholarship meant to foster students interested in retail. Every year there are 8 finalists: 4 in business and 4 in and design and from those 8 there will be 2 business and 2 design finalists that win $10,000 and 2 business and 2 design finalists that win $30,000.

What’s the process?

In September applicants submit a solution to a pre-determined case and 8 finalists are chosen based primarily on that. Then in January the finalists have the opportunity to present their solution to retail executives and that’s how the top awards are determined. This year the case was regarding sustainability in mass retail. It was really interesting and an issue that is top of mind for a lot of people! The problem is, although many consumers say they want products that are environmentally produced they often aren’t willing to pay the premium that these materials and supply chains require. That’s why luxury has been able to make better inroads than many others. This case was all about how can you create a more sustainable industry when selling mass not just to the top 10 or 20% of shoppers? The case involves creating a collection for a mass retailer and then doing all sorts of business analyses regarding how to market and merchandise the collection as well as it’s feasibility and financial projections.

Kaley's solution

There are a million ways to be more sustainable, but I chose to really focus in on the chemical treatment and dyeing of fabrics processes and how that can become more environmentally friendly. I found that a lot of the methods currently used to dye and treat fabrics cause a ton of harm at the production, disposal, as well as consumption levels. To address this I decided to develop a home collection that would use natural techniques for treatment and dying making use of things like plant pigmentation and tea extracts. These options have been around for awhile, but only recently have they overcome some challenges regarding stability of the dye and leakage. I chose a home line because I thought it was really important to start where you can make the most impact and from a consumer perspective there are few products they interact with as frequently as their sheets and towels.

 

More information:

If anyone wants to enter YMA this year to be eligible to win $5,000 and potentially $30,000 later on. YMA FSF is now open and will be due in October. If you're interested email bakerretail@wharton.upenn.edu

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