A new program at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) teaches students how to start their own pet clothing business. The class covers making, branding, and marketing pet clothes. The program was started 12 years ago and is the only pet clothing specific higher education course in the world. It has attracted students from Korea, Japan, South America, Mexico, and cities all around the United States.
Originally the program only earned students a two-year certificate and focused mainly on starting a pet business. More recently, students have been partaking in a three-week intensive where they learn skills like illustration, pattern-making, logo design to branding, merchandising, and marketing.
Dana Humphrey, a pet PR professional who is part of the FIT program, says that for those three weeks the students are in class from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. She says that many of the students have families and lives back home that they have left behind to come to New York and study canine fashion. It shows their commitment to the industry.
Ada Nieves, a professional pet stylist, was one of the first ever graduates of the original certificate program and she has moved on to work with MTV, Animal Planet, and ABC as an on-site accessory and clothing specialist for dogs. Nieves says that the program helped open doors for her to be hired as a pet fashion designer, stylist, and expert in the field.
One of the more recent graduates of the program is Viviana Rivera Marrero, owner of Toy Doggie, whose company makes an entire line of products out of high-quality stretch fabric and jersey for optimal breathable and comfort for pets.
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Both designers agree that it was their experience at FIT that helped launch their careers. Nieves said that holding a certificate from such a respected institution was impressive to others in the pet industry and demanded respect. The success of these two graduates, and many others, shows that the program is an effective stepping stone for people looking to make a name for themselves in the pet industry.
Through the program, which costs about $2,000, students will learn how to break into the pet industry and earn a full Professional Development Certification if they commit to the three week endeavor. The program consists of 12 days on campus at FIT and 2 days in the field. 95 hours of education are packed into those 14 days, and the course features lectures, workshops, and market tips.