Wayne State fashion design and merchandising students pitched prospective new market locations to Shinola executives after finishing their fall semester. 

The students pitched their ideas to members of the Shinola retail development and community relations teams in Shinola’s presentation space, located above the flagship store on Canfield, on Dec. 8, 2022.

Professor Monika Sinclair said her Merchandising II class was meant to teach students about internationalization in the merchandising industry, which was used as a basis for the project. 

“I (had) students zero in on various parts of the world to analyze different opportunities for brands to take on for expansion. I wanted to give them a real life scenario and focus on a brand that’s based here in Detroit,” Sinclair said. “I had students formulate groups and then decide on a city in a region that they felt would best fit for Shinola to expand into.” 

For the project, students had to research their selected city and assess Shinola’s predicted performance in the chosen global location based on risk, culture, consumer data, marketplace saturation and economic trends.

Junior Kylie Cruz and her group chose Amsterdam as a potential Shinola location. Cruz said being able to present to Shinola was an inspiring experience. 

“They were very motivating… afterwards they had a lot of good feedback and mentioned that they would do the project in a similar way, since the brand itself (is) actually working on the same exact thing currently, internationalizing the brand,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s group member, junior Madison Gibson, said the project helped her feel secure in her career path. 

“I felt like (presenting at Shinola) made me super excited and passionate about my major… it made me feel good about the path that I’m taking,” Gibson said. 

Gibson said the experience allowed for the students to build a sense of community. 

“I had worked on… (researching) Amsterdam local artists and using that as a marketing strategy. Community… has become a big thing for me,” she said. “Finding your own group of people, having that sort of influence and having everyone in my group agree with it and feel that it was a good choice was also a super cool experience.”

Senior Siara Dominguez, president of WSU’s Fashion Design Merchandising Organization, said presenting at Shinola gave the students an idea of what life is like at a big company.

“It taught us the process of bringing ideas to life in a corporate setting. As a consumer, you don’t really know what it takes behind it, but being from the first initial steps… all the way (to) presenting, it was really special,” Dominguez said. 

Dominguez said the project was momentous for many of the students.

“It was a great opportunity… a really big deal for us. We were all very excited about it,” Dominguez said. “Shinola was a wonderful company to work for. I think that they were great to allow the students to really join in on their concepts.”

Madeline Beck is the arts and entertainment editor for The South End. She can be reached at artsandentertainmenttse@gmail.com.

Photo provided by Monika Sinclair.