Three Stevenson University fashion merchandising majors placed third and received an honorable mention in the Educators for Socially Responsible Apparel Practices (ESRAP) business plan poster competition.
The students traveled to Las Vegas, Nev., to present their poster and business plan at the annual International Textile and Apparel Association conference, according to Stevenson.edu.
The three students who presented and competed are seniors Elle Bialozynski, Justin Baluyot, and Meghan Roberts.
This project dates back to a class during the students’ sophomore year where the group created a sustainable shoe brand called Sol, according to Baluyot. During their junior year, the group expanded on the company in their sourcing and logistics class with Dr. Holly Lentz-Schiller, associate professor of marketing and the faculty member who organized the trip. Roberts added that after receiving the notification about their acceptance into the competition they had to work on completing and perfecting their poster over the summer.
The conference and ESRAP selected only the top 10 projects out of over 50 submissions, with the Stevenson group being one of them, according to Bialozynski.
The group project required a lot of research and creativity from each member, said Bialozynski. Baluyot added that the group determined the target market, analyzed the footwear industry, researched potential factories, and calculated the cost of manufacturing the shoe along with the first-year expenses of the brand.
In their sophomore year, the group decided on a shoe company because the lifestyle sneaker industry was popular. Additionally, they wanted the opportunity to improve on the industry from a sustainability standpoint, according to Baluyot. To create the shoe, the group broke down the materials that compose a regular piece of footwear and determined a way to produce each element ethically, said Baluyot.
Sol meets the requirements of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, according to Stevenson.edu. The U.N. goals aim to combat the challenges of “poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice,” according to un.org.
ESRAP is a national organization focused on the need for sustainability in the fashion industry. The organization works directly with educators and students to advise the future of the fashion industry to be ethical and environmentally friendly, according to esrapglobal.org. The goal and purpose of ESRAP is to transform the future of the fashion industry, making sustainable practices the norm at all levels, according to esrapglobale.org.
Baluyot and Roberts expressed their gratitude toward Lentz-Schiller for her organization of the trip and endless support that she offered them. Baluyot added that he is thankful for the opportunity she created for him and his group and hopes future Stevenson fashion merchandising students will have the same chance to compete in the future.
Bialozynski described her passion for sustainability in the fashion industry and said that this project and the competition were inspiring to her. She added it is important for consumers to practice sustainable shopping to help the environment on a global level. This includes buying recycled products and shopping at thrift stores, which the group did during their time in Vegas.