Sara Duke, 28, is a graduate from Ryerson’s Fashion Design program. She currently has her own store on Bloor Street West.
Check out “I made this for you.” –Sara Duke on Facebook.
Dasha Zolota: What competitive experiences did you have in the program?
Sara Duke: I entered a couple of competitions in first and second year, with no wins. Then in third year I applied for and won a men’s wear scholarship called NAMSB (association of North American Men’s Sportswear Buyers) $1000 USD
DZ: What was good about these experiences?
SD: NAMSB obligated me to produce a men’s wear collection in 4th year- which was nice because I would have had a very hard time narrowing my focus.
DZ: What would you have liked to see more of?
SD: When I was at Ryerson, there were not very many competitions integrated into the curriculum- I understand that that has changedand would have preferred to participate with the guidance of the faculty. The program is really heavy duty and committing time to extra-curricular compositions is difficult.
DZ: Were there any particular issues raised by these experiences? E.g. groupwork, lack of recognition for work, etc.
SD: I always found it very interesting what was praised and rejected by outside industry professionals, that was always controversial.
DZ: Is there anything predominant that you took with you to your career that you learned from the competitions?
SD: Producing a men’s wear collection in 4th year as a woman was very interesting to industry professionals, a conversation starter, it made me more versatile as a designer and more interesting on paper.
DZ: Did any of the competitions benefit your career?
SD: Because so few students opt for men’s wear in 4th year, I was asked numerous times to display my collection, including a student showcase at Toronto Fashion Week in 2009. So, yep.
DZ: When you were in the program, did you think that you’d end up where you are today?
SD: I guess so – I have a shop and a line and a huge, very well equipped studio, I work for myself. It’s a lot of hours, but I love every minute of it!
DZ: Is there any advice you’d give students currently in the program or looking to join it?
SD: Ryerson is actually the best: every job interview that I went to after graduating was directly organized through Ryerson or when they found out that I graduated from Ryerson, I got hired. Then, when I worked in the industry, there was nothing that came up that was not directly addressed during my four years at school. Ryerson also gave me all of the tools necessary for me to start my own thing.