Missouri State University

LaWanda Darden

  • Major: Fashion Merchandising and Design
  • High School: Edwardsville High School in Edwardsville, Illinois
  • Hometown: St. Louis
  • Career goal: Starting her own company to design clothes for men and women
  • Activities/organizations: Association of Fashion and Design, Association of Black Collegians

Internship at New York fashion house was a perfect fit

LaWanda worked with internationally known designer Zac Posen.

Why I chose MSU: I felt like it was a well-rounded school, especially for my major. We’re a fashion school that is in the College of Business. That’s unusual. We're in the top 75 schools for design in America.

About my internship with internationally known designer Zac Posen in summer 2014: I got the internship because I was referred by my instructor, who heard about it from an MSU alum who had interned for Zac Posen. I interned there for eight weeks in New York. I researched competitors, I made samples, I made patterns, I dyed fabric and more. I came back in September for New York Fashion Week. I was backstage and behind the scenes, which is exactly what I want to do. Zac Posen is just really my inspiration, seriously.

Why fashion is my passion: This is something I’ve always wanted to do. I started designing when I was 7. I think music really inspires me to create fashion. Every time I listen to a song, I imagine what the artist is wearing or the visual image of the song. I also just love to play with clothes and try to dress up.

My favorite part of being a COB student: People think my major is only fashion; it’s not, there’s more to it. Before we even start sketching, we start off with a market analysis, research and demographics. We build a customer profile. That’s where the business aspect comes into play. You need a customer base, and you need to be able to make money.

My favorite class: I really enjoyed fashion show production. We all work collectively as a team to put on the fashion show. That class was very stressful, but I really enjoyed it because one day I want to have my own fashion show. We started from a zero-line budget and raised over $12,000 in tickets sales, donations and fundraisers. It was a great experience. I'll take that with me for the rest of my life.