Fashion Design/Merchandising Program

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Power of the Purse Archive

Rowan College at Burlington County Fashion Students Participate in the 2nd Annual “Power of the Purse” Auction and Charity Event

Power of the Purse Group Phoot 2016

The Fashion Department at RCBC once again participated in the American Red Cross Southwestern NJ Chapter’s annual Power of The Purse event, which raised funds for local disaster relief efforts, on May 5.

All the students enrolled in fashion classes were assigned to design the purses for the event as a special class project. June Sernak, the Executive Director of the Southwestern NJ Chapter, visited the students early this year to inspire and discuss the requirements that would be needed to have the purses juried into the event. The students then began preparing their designs in early February.

Purse Table Display Purse Table Display

Each student was asked to research the American Red Cross’ services and to choose a specific branch of interest for their concepts. By March, their concept boards and briefs were due. Sernak returned to the campus to review the students’ concepts and designs. It was very impressive to see how they took serious topics such as disaster relief, health and safety, blood donations, international services and service of the Armed Forces, and challenged themselves to create meaningful handbag designs. 

Morgan Kuensel created a tote bag called the “Billet Bag.” She incorporated military themes in her clear vinyl tote. Insia Malik created a handbag and purse inspired by the U.S. Coast Guard. Arissa Crocket created a bag that symbolized a hurricane and Michaela Gilliken’s summer tote was named “Sandy” to honor the restoration of the New Jersey shore. Sahin Naznin won an award for most creative purse and was honored by June Sernak. Her large tote, including a fabric scarf wrapped on the handles, was inspired by tsunamis that hit her native country of Bangladesh, India. Kieun Kwon’s tote was called “Lost and Found,” which was inspired by her native country Korea, and Griselda Quia chose her nursing background to create an EKG heart line symbol on her purse.

Student Purse Student Purse and Board

In the end, over 40 students participated and 15 purses were eventually juried into the event for the silent auction. It was a difficult decision to choose from the many wonderful designs, but in the end, craftsmanship and attention to detail were the deciding factors that won the student purses a place at the auction table.

On May 5, the 15 students who handmade the purses juried into the auction were invited to the event at The Merion to enjoy dinner and watch their purses go up for sale. A bidding war occurred and Isabella Wilkens’ bag “Salus” brought in the highest proceeds. Collectively, the students raised close to $1,000, which will go directly to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief fund.

Fashion Student Explaining her Purse Students and Buyers Looking at Purses

The Fashion Department is very proud of all the students who participated and looks forward to participating once again in next year’s event.

Congratulations to all the students who whose purses were selected for the event!

Sara Connelly, Arissa Crockett, Michaela Gilliken, Alexa Hargrove, Morgan Kuensel, Kieun Kwon, Insia Malik, Brandy Marks, Sahin Naznin, Emily Oakes, Griselda Quia, Stefani Rosenberg, Julian Vicente, Melissa Walker, Isabella Wilkins


Rowan College at Burlington County Fashion Students participate in “Power of the Purse”

Rowan College at Burlington County and the Fashion Design and Merchandising Program was proud to support the American Red Cross Southwestern NJ Chapter’s first-ever “Power of the Purse” event, a fundraiser featuring an evening of shopping and bidding on fashion and accessories all to benefit local disaster relief.

The Fashion Design and Merchandising Program recruited more 30 students to design and create purses, handbags, clutches and totes to be auctioned at the April 23 event. Professors from the department challenged their students to design and create a one-of-a-kind purse that would support this worthy cause.

Purse Table 1 Purse Table 2 Purse Table 3 Purse Table 4

Following the students’ creative process, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Southwestern Chapter June Sernak visited RCBC to jury and select bags to be a part of the evening’s auction items. She selected 18 bags, created by 12 different students, to be auctioned at the event.

“It was a difficult decision with so many beautiful purses to choose from,” said Sernak.

The 12 students, whose work was selected, were invited for a night out at the “Power of the Purse” event VIP reception and dinner at the Merion in Cinnaminson. Their purses were on display during the silent auction and before the end of the evening there were bidding wars. Students enjoyed watching their hand-made creations going to the highest bidders and they even had the opportunity to talk to potential buyers and discuss their personal journey of creating the purse.

Group Shot

From sustainable designs and fabrics purchased from thrift shops, to themes that included the Army, Navy and 1920s Deco designs, their creativity caught the eye of 18 buyers. The students work alone brought in more than $1,000 to support the disaster relief fund.

Next year, the RCBC Fashion Department plans to once again partner with the American Red Cross Southwestern NJ Chapter and support this wonderful cause!