It’s always interesting to see what your peers are doing in their classes, but what about after graduation when the real work starts? I spoke with Mia Wright-Ross, a recent graduate from the Fashion Design program and current shoe designer for Calvin Klein, about her time at Parsons, what she’s been up to since graduating a year ago, and her advice to new students.
Lauren Davis: Hey Mia, thanks again for the interview! So, with all the different design schools out there, why did you decide on Parsons?
Mia Wright-Ross: I come from a fine arts background, which is what I concentrated on throughout high school, and thought maybe I should get into design. After I did some research I found Parsons to be the best place for fashion design since it is ranked as one of the top design schools. Also, finding out that Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, and other talented designers attended Parsons helped because I figured the faculty must be doing something right!
LD: What is one of your best memories while at Parsons?
MWR: The first 3 years went by so fast – they are kind of a blur. I would say some of my best memories came from my senior year. I can remember one in particular during March or April of senior year: I was working on my thesis one Saturday at school and was so stressed out because it was crunch time and everything was due in May. One of my friends saw me visibly distressed and while we were in one of the empty classrooms, she put on some Beyonce, and we just forgot about everything and had a dance session in the middle of the room. We danced on top of the tables and on all of our patterns! What I loved about senior year is that you really get to know and bond with the people in your class and that camaraderie is something that I will never forget.
LD: Since graduation, what have you been up to?
MWR: I currently work for Jimlar Corporation, a company that designs and manufactures footwear for brands such as Coach and Calvin Klein. I am a shoe designer for the Calvin Klein division.
LD: That’s awesome! How did you land that position?
MWR: I interned for Jimlar right after graduation. I was offered the position because a teacher I had mentioned my name to someone who worked there, and they happened to be at the Parsons Senior Fashion Show where I was nominated for Designer of the Year. They remembered my name and then called to offer me an internship, which was paid. I was later offered a permanent position in the company this past November.
LD: Did you have any other internships while in school?
MWR: I interned at Converse the summer before my senior year, which was a great experience. I also did an internship at Talbots. I liked to do a variety of internships with small designers, but also big corporate companies as well. I always interned while at Parsons because I knew once I was done with school and in the real world, I was going to have to multi-task with a million different things, so I figured I should start getting used to the juggling.
LD: When did you realize you wanted to get into shoe design?
MWR: I’ve always been into accessories, handbags, shoes, everything. Anytime I would design, I would always put an entire look together and not just design the pieces by themselves. During the end of my junior year is when I realized I wanted to do shoes. I love the product design element that goes into the design process, and I also like that they are bit sculptural, three-dimensional, and include a little bit of science and mathematics.
LD: Would you like to share any advice based on your own experiences for current as well as incoming Parsons students?
MWR: Now that I’m working I would definitely say don’t hold back. Don’t edit yourself; get out every creative thing you’ve ever dreamt about. What I loved about Parsons is that you could interact with students from other departments. I think it’s great to see how other divisions can help push forward your own designs. Foundation year is a great time to explore whatever you want, and I definitely think it helped in grounding me and my design mind. Also, while it’s great to follow guidelines given for a project, don’t be afraid to think outside of the parameters given. Professors at Parsons love when you can take what they have given you and interpret it in your own way. Don’t be afraid to leave a part of yourself in whatever you do!
Huge thanks to Mia for sharing some of her experiences and work! Catch up with Mia and view more of her work here!