2014 Scholar

Jessica Bombar, a 2014 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund scholar and Allan Zwerner Award recipient, is taking the fashion industry by storm as a Marketing and Ecommerce intern at Kahn Lucas. Born and raised in Clearwater, Florida, Jessica is now a rising senior at the University of Florida, Gainesville with a major in Advertising and an Entrepreneurial minor. Jessica may have stayed close to home throughout her college education, but now she’s ready to spread her wings, and it is more than likely that she will go far—with aspirations to travel and live in New York, California, Spain, and Australia—wherever the wind blows her. With her bubbly, sparkling personality, immense talent, and desire to learn, Jessica is making a strong and positive contribution to Kahn Lucas and everyone that she works with.

 YMA FSF: What are your job responsibilities at Kahn Lucas?

Jessica: Every day first thing I put together an ecommerce analytics report for our brands Dolly and Me, Sweetheart Rose, Youngland, and Emily West and send it out to the executives. I especially enjoy working on Dolly and Me and Sweetheart Rose, which are our ecommerce brands. It’s so interesting to see if the emails or other marketing material we send out had an impact. In addition, I’ve been working on developing the content for the holiday collection to put on the ecommerce site. I also manage social media and create social media and marketing calendars to tie everything together. My favorite part of my internship is researching tactics for gaining more followers and performing comparative/competitive analysis—it’s so interesting to be able to use analytics to see, for example, who went from a Facebook post to our website. I also do research in magazines like Seventeen and Justine for our more mature brand, Emily West, and Disney for our other younger three brands in order to tap into our customers’ mindsets. Another project I’ve been working on is called “Patterns for Progress.” This past holiday season, for every dress sold, Sweetheart Rose donated a make-your-own dress kit to women living at refugee camps in Liberia. “Patterns for Progress” is a great project because it promotes commerce and gives women the opportunity to gain new skills that could lead to employment. I’m going to start creating blog content on the families and how they’ve been affected by this campaign, and I will also develop social media and website content relating to this project.

YMA FSF: What do you enjoy most about your internship at Kahn Lucas?

Jessica: I love that Kahn Lucas is small enough that I’ve been able to be exposed to every part of the company. Especially since I’m working in Marketing, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people from every department. Everyone at Kahn Lucas is so friendly and willing to help us learn. The intern program gives us the opportunity to meet with all of the department heads in the company and hear an overview of what each department entails. It’s so helpful to be able to learn about each role and nice to get together with all of the interns twice a week. I also like that every day is different. Last week I even got to go to Westchester to assist in a photo shoot for our fall collections!

YMA FSF: How did you find out about YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund?

Jessica: It was posted on the career website for the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. My mentor, Doug Arvanites, had a really big part in making sure that it was advertised there. He puts a lot of effort into making sure that students from diverse programs are made aware of YMA FSF. I wanted to pursue the program because it’s such a great opportunity and I was so intrigued by the prompt. The fact that I got to design and market my own fashion line was a lot of fun—I had a great time putting it together.

YMA FSF: Have events, specifically the “Breakfast with the Boss” series, been helpful so far?

Jessica: Yes, definitely—it’s such a great opportunity. Even though a lot of them have similar advice, I could listen to it a million times and it would never get old. Hearing their stories makes me so excited to be in the industry. The fact that I’m in a room with these powerful, successful people is unreal. It’s also been really great practice for being more outgoing with powerful professionals. At first I was nervous to ask questions but it’s getting easier over time. It’s helped me a lot with my communication and networking skills.

YMA FSF: Where do you see yourself after graduation?

Jessica: After I graduate in December, I plan on getting an internship for the spring. I’m hoping to get into a merchant or buying program and I am willing to go almost anywhere, but I would love to live in New York, California, Spain, or Australia. I’m hoping to travel as well. I guess you could say I have many aspirations!

YMA FSF: What are you looking to get out of your experience with YMA FSF? How has the program influenced you thus far?

Jessica: I’ve made so many connections and have gained so much knowledge from all of the events. It’s all about the extra things that YMA FSF does to enhance scholars’ experiences—the breakfasts and other networking opportunities. It’s made getting into the retail industry so much easier for me. It gave me the head start I needed to do what I want in the future. All of the conversations I’ve had with industry leaders have been so inspiring. It’s also made it more apparent that I really do what to be in the fashion industry. YMA FSF is giving me so much career insight that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. 


2011 Scholar
2014 Geoffrey Beene Award winner

Kate Ruque, a 2011 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund alum from Kent State University and 2014 Geoffrey Beene Award winner, is well on her way to becoming a fashion industry leader. Kate has been a sought after talent in the industry since her internship days at Bergdorf Goodman, where she also worked as an assistant Women’s Contemporary buyer for two years. Currently, Kate is working at Saks Fifth Avenue as a Women’s Designer Buyer, specifically for Burberry and Ralph Lauren. As she advances in her career, Kate makes an effort to pay it forward by helping young professionals start their own careers in any way that she can.

YMA FSF: What are your job responsibilities?

Kate: My job is to assist the buyer in every way. This includes daily communication with vendors—anytime there’s an issue in a store, I act as a coordinator of chaos. I put together market preparation and review it with the buyers. In addition, I’m really involved with the market itself; I go to showrooms, write orders, create assortments for stores, and take part in receipt management. I buy for the store and the website.
I like to give girls in college a realistic look at buying—it’s not as glamorous as people think. I love it because it’s analytical. You have to be a good number cruncher but also a product person and very creative—there are very few jobs where you can do both.

YMA FSF: What was your most valuable takeaway from YMA FSF? In what ways did it facilitate your career and give you direction?

Kate: There are so many takeaways. Writing the case study forced me to take a look into current trends in the industry and I had to put together a business plan that was feasible for a company to undertake. Going into the presentation was so intimidating because I was a college student presenting a business plan to executives that have much more experience. This project helped me learn how to speak with authority and truly understand what I was saying. YMA FSF has helped so much with networking—it’s been three years and I’m still working with them. It’s a really great group of people to be involved with, not just for the first job out of college, but even later down the road.

YMA FSF: Were events helpful? How did you meet people and network?

Kate: Definitely—any networking is helpful, with leading executives and your peers. Mastering networking in everyday life is key to doing well in this industry. I can’t stress enough how small this industry is. Once you’re in it, you keep running into the same people over and over. It’s a competitive industry and everybody’s good at their jobs. At the end of the day, if you have the right people who are pushing for you, that’s how to get that job that you want. It’s not like in college where you’re going to a formal event. It’s about not losing contact, nurturing relationships, and making good impressions.

YMA FSF: What advice can you give to current scholars?

Kate: Intern as many places as you can. There are so many people who say they want to be a buyer or a stylist, but the reality of those jobs is not exactly what you think they’re going to be. If you take a six-month internship and you hate it, it’s on your resume and you’ve learned from the experience, but a fulltime job is more permanent. Get as much experience as you can that you’re not learning in the classroom and network as much as possible. Talk to as many people as you can. If you make a good impression, they may be able to help you along the way.


2014 Scholar
2015 Geoffrey Beene Award Nominee


2014 Scholar

Classmates, co-workers, and best friends—“If all else fails, we’re going into business together”

Brilliantly talented, bright, excited, and ready to take the fashion industry by storm—Jill Hub and Kevin Crowley, Marist College design students, are lending their design expertise to LF USA, where they are both interning for the summer—Kevin in Street Menswear with a focus on graphic design for brands Zoo York and DC, and Jill in Women’s Ready-to-Wear for Oxford Collections. Kevin is a 2014 scholar from Babylon, New York, and Jill is a two-time scholarship winner (last summer she interned with Derek Lam) and a 2015 Geoffrey Beene nominee from Pequannock, New Jersey.

These Marist College classmates and LF USA co-workers remain best friends even though they are never placed in the same groups or get to work together in classes or group projects. Although, they said that while they are hoping to get offers to work as freelance or assistant designers after graduation, if all else fails, they plan to go into business together to start a fashion line that fills a void in the industry—Kevin explained, “I’ll manage the Menswear collection and Jill will be in charge of Women’s Wear.”

Kevin and Jill, although working in separate offices, are both highly engaged in their LF USA internships and in the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund program. Both exude passion for design and are taking full advantage of the invaluable networking and professional growth opportunities that YMA FSF has to offer. Especially notable is that both scholars utilized the YMA FSF Career Fair in January to connect with LF USA. They each accredited their internship offers to the opportunity that YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Career Fair presented for scholars to meet and be exposed to so many influential companies in the fashion industry—undoubtedly, their talent and skills have something to do with it as well.

YMA FSF: What are your job responsibilities at LF USA?

Jill: As an intern for Oxford Collection in Women’s Ready-to-Wear, I work on private label for Target. I sketch technical flats, handle fabric sourcing with Hong Kong, perform market and trend research, and help out with any other general tasks that need to be completed. The most exciting part about my internship is the project that I’m working on. I get to work with an associate designer to develop a new fashion line for Oxford Collections that we will present to Target. I love that I’m able to work on the line from the ground up and see it through from production to the end result.

Kevin: I have similar tasks. With a focus on studying Street Menswear, I sketch technical flats, do CAD artwork, trend research, and graphic research, not just in apparel but also in posters and music for inspiration. At LF, the designers that I’m working with will develop styles and then ask for my opinion—for example, how can they make something more active or more street. It’s exciting to have a say even as an intern and I love to sit down and brainstorm ideas.

YMA FSF: What was your most valuable takeaway from the YMA FSF events in January? Did you meet anybody that has impacted you or that you have kept in touch with?

Kevin: The internship fair gave us the opportunity to “pre-interview” with some people and it was really useful in helping me see where I didn’t want to work. It also allowed me to connect and keep in touch with Jill Eskenazi, the Staffing Director at LF USA, who ended up interviewing me for the internship.

Jill: The January internship fair was most impactful for helping to make the connection with LF USA and getting the internship. It was also a great warm-up for the actual interview process. It really gave me a sense for what companies are looking for, what I should do to prepare, and networking.

YMA FSF: Have summer events, such as the Intern Social and “Breakfast with the Boss’” been helpful so far? How have you been meeting people and networking?

Jill: The most important thing from the events is learning how to network and how to get out of your comfort zone. We’re interns and being put in a room with CEOs—we’re learning how to get out of our boxes and speak to them. “Breakfast with the Boss” has also been great for getting insight into the industry. I’m learning that it’s important to always reintroduce yourself when you see someone that you’ve met once or twice before and to keep in touch with people you meet. I’ve really learned a lot between my two years with YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. Now I know how important it is to be outgoing and step outside your comfort zone—it really pays off.

Kevin: I’ve been told a lot of times to tone down my personality, but people really do remember me when I’m 100% myself.

YMA FSF: Where do you see yourself after graduation? 

Kevin: We’re both going to try to get freelance or assistant design jobs.

Jill: We want to be in the work field and to start being responsible for a brand. I’d really like to work in high-end women’s wear.

Kevin: The most important thing is to get your foot in the door.

YMA FSF: What are you looking to get out of your experience with YMA FSF? How has the program influenced you thus far?

Kevin: I want to make connections and to meet people who want to help young people. I truly feel that a lot of people involved in YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund believe in and are really trying to further our careers. For example, after I sent a “thank you” email to YMA FSF Treasurer, Mike Setola, for hosting a “Breakfast with the Boss,” he responded saying, “It was my pleasure to sit with the future leaders of the fashion industry.” They see something in scholars that they saw in themselves. It’s great to be able to pick their brains.

Jill: YMA gives life-long mentorship that you can always come back to—Doug, Marie, mentors, and scholars—for career guidance. The scholarship itself presents unbelievable opportunities to students in fashion. There are a lot of expenses and it provides the ability to make those connections and take advantage of opportunities.

Kevin: Scholars view the project and the experience itself as an intimidating thing, but it’s so worth the work and putting in the time. It’s the classic example of work and reward. What you put in is what you get out.

Jill: I am so grateful to the YMA. Because of them, the past two years have been filled with the most amazing experiences that have come directly from them. The scholarship helped me study fashion design in Hong Kong. YMA FSF gives us the opportunity to enrich yourself as a person and as a fashion student, to succeed, see the world, study; every interview I’ve been on, they look at my resume and are like, “You’ve studied in Hong Kong?!” This is directly a result of YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund.