FIT Graduate Students Presented with Bob Fisch Awards for Entrepreneurial Excellence

Retail pioneer, mentor, and bestselling author Bob Fisch presents two $25K awards to graduate students from Fashion Design and Global Fashion Management programs

NEW YORK, May 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — On May 22, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), a college of the State University of New York (SUNY), announced that two $25,000 Bob Fisch Awards for Entrepreneurial Excellence were presented to outstanding students in the Fashion Design MFA and Global Fashion Management MPS programs in its School of Graduate Studies. Robert (Bob) Fisch, founder and former chairman and CEO of rue21, award-winning author of the bestseller Get a Life: A Roadmap to Rule the World, and an FIT Foundation board member, established the awards to help advance the careers of the students.

Fisch, widely recognized for his bold innovations in value-priced, fast fashion retailing, said: “FIT’s students from the MFA Fashion Design and Global Fashion Management programs have transformed traditional thesis presentations, infusing them with creativity and inspiration—the ingenuity and passion on display from these high achievers was remarkable. I am proud to be a part of their academic and professional journeys and look forward to the unconventional impact they will have on the future. I teach them business, they teach me life!”

“Through these generous awards, Bob Fisch is supporting our master’s level students in accelerating their career trajectories and realizing their full potential,” said FIT President Joyce F. Brown. “The guidance and mentoring provided by Bob is deeply appreciated, as is the care with which he shares his knowledge and expertise.”

“These entrepreneurial awards make a tremendous impact on the students, who will be able to kick-start their businesses,” said Dr. Brooke Carlson, interim dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “The combination of funding and mentorship is invaluable to their futures.”

The 2024 recipients of the Bob Fisch Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence are:

  • Gina Ciarrocchi, Global Fashion Management, ’24, of Pittsburgh, Penn., creator of Silversleeve. Ciarrocchi identified the problem of insulin pumps emitting very small amounts of radiation. The solution, she found, lies in silver-based products, which are highly effective in blocking radiation. She created a protective silver cover for insulin pumps that serves as a radiation-blocking barrier between a user’s body and the device. Ciarrocchi said:

    “I was diagnosed [with diabetes] at a very young age, and growing up, I was very, very discreet about it. When I was 18, I got my first insulin pump and always wore it hidden and really close to my body. Eventually, my biggest fear went from ‘Can anybody see my pump?’ to ‘Is wearing this pump going to give me breast cancer because I wear it tucked inside my bra?'”

    “In response to receiving this award, I told Bob, ‘I’m not just seeking funding, I’m looking for a mentor whose support will be invaluable.’ I feel so honored and am grateful for his confidence in me.”

  • Talia Abbe, Fashion Design MFA, ’24, of New York, N.Y., creator of Tabbe Designs. Abbe developed a ready-to-wear brand based on the negative and positive stimuli in the world and how it affects people, both internally and externally. Created during COVID with the goal of trying to end the stigma associated with mental health, Abbe’s collection is focused on people’s emotions and experiences. With her garments, she aims to produce a more inclusive, freeing, and joyful environment for the wearer. Abbe said:

    “Since COVID, I’ve been focused on mental health. I didn’t do well being locked inside all the time. The only way I felt I could really express myself was through fashion. I started making all my clothes about mental health in 2020, meaning that my work began to reflect how I was feeling, what I was going through, and what my friends and family were going through. I felt like I wanted to be able to give myself an outlet—and to give people around me a voice and make them feel like they were not alone, like I understood.”

    Abbe plans to use her award to produce and trademark samples and jumpstart her marketing efforts.

Past recipients of the Bob Fisch Awards for Entrepreneurial Excellence include: Lindsey Mortensen, of Dallas, Mubarak Abliz, of Xinjiang, China, and Victoria Shchepakina, of Saratov, Russia, all Global Fashion Management, for POSSE, the Innerwear as Outerwear luxury lingerie brand created for sizes D cup and up; Valeria Watson, Fashion Design MFA, of Guadalajara, Mexico, creator of Valeria Watson, a clothing line that explores the blend of cultures between the United States and Mexico; Amanda Brown, of New York, N.Y., and Eva Carelus, of Freeport, N.Y., both Global Fashion Management, for Maid to Alter, a circular bridesmaid dress brand with rentable dresses that have self-adjustable features that allow one garment to serve many customers, saving bridesmaids time and money on dress alterations; and Stephanie Kim, Fashion Design MFA, of South Korea, for The Yearbook Committee, a film and design production company in New York.

Launched in 2021, the Entrepreneurial Awards are an extension of the comprehensive Bob Fisch graduate student program, which celebrates entrepreneurial excellence and intergenerational mentoring through gifts from Fisch of over $400,000 to date. The program includes thesis project completion grants, scholarships for FIT’s Fashion Design MFA and Global Fashion Management MPS programs, year-round educational “fireside chats” led by Fisch, and extraordinary one-on-one and group mentoring sessions.

FIT’s Fashion Design MFA program, established in 2017, focuses on practice-based research. Unconventional in approach, the program welcomes students with non-fashion backgrounds as well as those with rich traditional undergraduate training in fashion design. The curriculum emphasizes research methodologies and pushes critical thinking that motivates innovation and invention in design, fit, cut, construction, silhouette, and materiality. The Global Fashion Management program emphasizes leadership, applied creativity, problem-solving, and analytical thinking, along with effective writing and presentation skills. The curriculum includes courses in production management and supply chain, global marketing and fashion brand management, culture and international business, corporate finance, politics and world trade, business policy, global retail management, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

To find out more, please visit FIT.

About FIT
A part of the State University of New York, FIT has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology throughout its history. Providing over 8,000 students with an uncommon blend of hands-on, practical experience, theory, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, the college offers a wide range of affordable programs that foster innovation and collaboration. Its distinctive curriculum is geared to today’s rapidly growing creative economy, including fields such as computer animation, toy design, production management, film and media, and cosmetics and fragrance marketing. Internationally renowned, FIT draws on its New York City location to provide a vibrant, creative community in which to learn. The college offers nearly 50 majors and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the new creative economy. Among notable alumni in fashion are Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Reem Acra, Brian Atwood, Dennis Basso, Francisco Costa, Norma Kamali, Nanette Lepore, Bibhu Mohapatra, Daniel Roseberry, Ralph Rucci, John Bartlett, Peter Do, and Michelle Smith. Other prominent graduates include Leslie Blodgett, creator of bareMinerals; international restaurant designer Tony Chi; and Nina Garcia, editor in chief, Elle.

About the FIT Foundation
As the primary fundraising arm for FIT, the FIT Foundation supports and celebrates fearless innovation, inclusivity, and unabashed creativity. Since 1944, the FIT Foundation has advanced the mission of the college and its strategic goals by preparing students to fuel the future of fashion, business, design, technology, and the arts. Serving as a bridge between donors and FIT’s schools, departments, and programs, the foundation strives to inspire and empower the vibrant community of FIT friends, students, alumni, faculty, and industry leaders. Through scholarship development, industry engagement, and programs and events with social impact, the foundation is dedicated to the following core mandates: igniting thought leadership, fostering ingenuity and exploration, and helping FIT lead the next generation of unconventional minds into the new creative economy.

About Bob Fisch
Robert Fisch is recognized as a pioneering merchant for his bold and successful innovations in value-priced, fast fashion retailing, notably at rue21. Fisch is the founder and former chairman and CEO of rue21 and took the company from bankruptcy to a fast-track winning streak that included a hot-stock IPO, building a national network of 1,200 stores and a billion-dollar-plus value. Fisch’s proven management practices and motivational skills have resulted in a unique mutual-mentoring relationship with millennials in the workplace. He formed a millennial advisory board, which also served as a consulting body for his 2019 book release, Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer, and his current book, Get a Life: A Roadmap to Rule the World, which led him to becoming a Forbes best-selling author. Fisch is currently president of RNF Group, a consulting company focused on the assessment and evaluation of retail and other business enterprises, as well as providing mentoring services to existing management of these companies.

[email protected]

SOURCE Fashion Institute of Technology

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