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Design & Merchandising Students Participate in ESRAP 2020 Student Merchandising Competition

Aukai by Julia Krawiec

October 27, 2020

Drexel’s Design and Merchandising (D&M) program has six students and alumni, Zenobia Barnes ’20 (Conscious Couture), Abby Bender ’20 (Bend), Stacie Bernhaut ’20 (Wild), Julia Krawiec ’20 (Aukai), Nelly Saad ’20 (Silke), and Tatiana Krakhmaleva ’21 (Unravel), that have been named as finalists in the ESRAP 2020 Student Merchandising Competition. Sponsored by the Educators for Socially Responsible Business Practices (ESRAP), the juried poster competition empowered students to become change agents through the application of socially responsible business practices. Students invoked an entrepreneurship mindset to incorporate Triple Bottom Line practices in the development of a business plan for a socially responsible fashion retailer. Multiple dimensions from the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were incorporated into the students’ strategies. The full business plan included sections covering business concept, industry and market research, competitive analysis, product assortments, sourcing, marketing, and financial projections. D&M faculty advisors Rachel Mednick and Alphonso McClendon partnered with local entrepreneurs and professionals, Mary Alice Duff of Alice Alexander, Bela Shehu of Nino Brand, Brian Linton of United by Blue, and Bari Fisher of Anthropologie, to share their challenges and successes of running a “truly” socially responsible fashion business.

The competition winners were selected on October 26, 2020 by industry professionals working within the area of sustainability and social and environmental responsibility at VF Corporation, parent company to The North Face, Vans, and Timberland. D&M ‘20 alumni Julie Krawiec placed third for her submission Aukai:

It is believed that there are a little more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the world's oceans today. Plastics are not only diminishing the livelihood of the ocean ecosystem, they are ruining the beauty of the oceans and beaches for both marine life and humans.

Aukai is a Hawaiian women's name that means explorer of the sea. Through the sustainable strategy of Triple Bottom Line, Aukai will be focusing on Planet and People. Aukai's mission is to create sustainable apparel that inspires the world to clean our oceans and keep them clean, so both marine life and humans can explore unpolluted oceans.

Congratulations to all the students on this academic and industry honor.