From left: MollyKate Cline, Ryder Teach, Brianna Becaj, and Suzanne Cotton.

This January, three Columbus College of Art & Design Fashion Design students will each bring home $5,000 scholarships from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF).

This year’s CCAD Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) winners are Brianna Becaj (Fashion Design, 2021); MollyKate Cline (Fashion Design, 2020), who took home a FSF scholarship in 2017 as well; and Ryder Teach (Fashion Design, 2021).

This is CCAD’s third year as a member school of the Fashion Scholarship Fund, which distributes more than $200,000 in scholarship funds annually. In addition to the scholarship fund, the trio of Fashion Design students and Fashion Design Associate Professor and Chair Suzanne Cotton attended an all-expenses-paid awards gala in New York City on Jan. 10, 2019. This year, the gala honored Martha Stewart, Ryan Seacrest, and Hal Lawton from Macy’s.

Students in the FSF competition were tasked with a case study: Pick a real-life fashion company and explore opportunities for it to expand in the global market in a location it does not already have a permanent, physical presence. Students could complete the objective through the lens of design, merchandising, analytics, or supply chain; the retailer had to offer products in at least one of the following categories: apparel, accessories, beauty, or home goods.

Beyond the scholarship funds it provides, the FSF award is meaningful for the industry connections it provides to emerging designers, says Cotton. “The organization provides lifetime career help with placement services for both full-time and internship opportunities, and once you win a scholarship you are a member for life. They also provide mentoring with industry professionals.”

Although CCAD has only been involved in the FSF competition for a few short years, they excel in the competition. Cotton credits the students’ educational foundation, as well as support from the college’s Business program, with providing the underpinnings for that success. “We give our students a solid design background that stresses creativity so the ideas behind the projects are original. We also conduct a few workshops along the way where we work together with the business department to help the students understand the business concepts behind the projects,” she said.

The submissions were judged by the depth and relevance of their research, the creativity and feasibility of the concepts, and the clarity in their portrayal. The case studies were judged by industry professionals including the YMA FSF Board of Governors, YMA FSF Mentors, and YMA FSF Alumni.

The FSF award can be applied to any educational expense, such as tuition, internship housing, a study abroad program, and more. Scholarship recipients are invited to join the FSF Mentor Program and be paired with an industry mentor during the year of the award. Winners also have access to internship opportunities through FSF partner companies, and they are eligible to join the FSF Alumni Association to grow their professional network.

Below, the three scholarship winners talk about what the win means for them:

Brianna Becaj

Why is this award meaningful?

This award was really meaningful to me because it gave me a better chance of continuing my education. I was not entirely sure I was going to be able to go back for another year before winning this scholarship, since I take care of all my bills myself. But it also opened my eyes up to what the industry has to offer me. The fact that these people all want to see us succeed and are willing to help is really amazing, and I don't feel so lost and scared about finding a job or internship since I know I have a network I can go to for help. The whole experience gave me more confidence about my work as well. I haven't always been sewing or designing clothes and only recently (comparatively) to the other students. Before this, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing but knowing that I made it next to all these other students made me feel good about my work.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

Post-graduation, I hope to work for a company with a similar aesthetic as me...something within the street style realm. I hope to end up in California one day. Of course as most designers, I DO hope to have my own company. My main focus is sustainable fashion and I hope to either base my own company around that or integrate it into an existing brand.

MollyKate Cline

What was the best part of the New York trip?

The best part of the New York trip was getting to interview with major retailers for internship opportunities. They’ve been following up with me since, and I’m so grateful because there are so many amazing opportunities for internships that I wouldn’t of had the connections to if I didn’t attend the NYC gala and career fair. I’m pretty sure whatever internship I get this summer, it’ll be because of the NYC trip. (But I will say, meeting celebrities like Ryan Seacrest and Jake T Austin was also a highlight haha!)

What do you hope to do after graduation?

Career-wise after graduation, I would love to work for a retail company as a designer or trend forecaster, working the 9-5 life until I can really kickstart my own business. About a month ago I launched my own LLC, an online clothing shop and blog about sustainable fashion. I would love to run that full time, but would be grateful to work for another company and learn from them until the time is right.

Ryder Teach

Why do you think CCAD Fashion Design students do so well in this competition?

Aside from all of the talent that the CCAD Fashion Design students possess, most of us have a strong connection with each other. During the semester before the case study was due, us scholarship participants helped each other with questions, advice, and critique so we could each submit the strongest case studies possible. I feel like even as competitive designers, we’re still looking out for each other.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

After graduation, It is my dream to begin as a designer for an iconic brand such as Abercrombie & Fitch. I am so excited to see where I land in the fashion world. After working in the industry and making the best experiences, I would love to eventually have my own label, collaborate with others, and hopefully be able to dress/style the most extravagant artists.

Learn more about Fashion Design at CCAD or apply now.