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July 29, 2014

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MAGIC gives local students a taste of the fashion industry

With the MAGIC fashion industry convention in town, designers and buyers alike are busy scrambling to find looks for next season, but Las Vegas design students also are getting the opportunity to experience the business side of the industry.

Since opening five years ago, International Academy of Design & Technology students have been participating in the biannual MAGIC convention to gain behind-the-scenes experience and network with professionals.

IADT faculty and internship coordinator Julia Szkiba, who is the lead designer for Bacche organic children’s wear, said she likes taking her students to MAGIC because of the lessons they learn while observing professionals.

“Even as a designer, you have to know how to sell your product,” she said. “You could have the best and most beautiful design, but if you don’t know who the customer is or how to sell, how to market it, no one will be able to know about it.”

Szkiba said most designers just out of school can't venture out on their own because of competition, so they design with the assistance of someone else, learning the tools of the trade.

“With this tradeshow, (students) see all of these products … and they realize even if they have a booth at MAGIC, it doesn’t mean you’re going to sell,” she said. “If you’re new and you’re positioned in the back, no one knows you’re there and you’ve just spent $10,000 on the space and the booth, and that could be your whole budget for the year, so I tell students, 'learn on someone else’s dime.'"

There are between 50 and 75 IADT students participating in the MAGIC, Pool, Project and Off-Price Specialist tradeshows taking place this weekend. They're doing everything from assisting vendors at booths, to sourcing, which is a liaison who matches buyers with designers to help business along.

One student, junior Dani Weinkauf, has volunteered several times for the Pool tradeshow to help with booth setup and run errands throughout the convention.

“I’m really glad to see more people are involved this quarter because a lot of students in classes ask ‘should I do Pool?’ and I say ‘Yes, definitely.' It’s a great experience to learn from other designers,” she said.

Another student, senior Hilary Caldwell, is returning this season for sourcing and said she comes back each season because of the job opportunities.

“I love doing it,” she said. “I got maybe five job offers last time I was there ... If you can step it up and meet these people’s needs, then they really see that.”

Caldwell said because she’s closer to graduation she might get more offers this year, which is why Szkiba encourages seniors to participate in the MAGIC tradeshow.

“Networking is one of the best things you can do in this industry," Weinkauf said. "It’s not about who you know, but what you know."

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