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Student group tackles chic side of retail

There’s a group on campus for students who love fashion and retail but don’t want to learn to sew.

The Black Retail Action Group, or BRAG, is a national non-profit organization designed to help minority students interested in retail and related industries get into the business side of fashion.

Established in 1970, the organization celebrated its 40th anniversary at the annual Scholarship and Awards Gala this year, where some of its national sponsors distribute scholarships to high school and college students.

The sponsors include Macy’s, Best Buy and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Awards were also given to industry leaders who embody this year’s theme, which was “innovators, inspirers, legends.” Tommy Hilfiger was a recipient.

The Ohio State chapter of the group is comprised mostly of fashion students, the organization concentrates more on the business aspect of the retail industry. Minority students of all majors are welcome to join.

The organization “is dedicated to putting minorities in corporate level positions within the retail industry,” said Gesele Booker, president of OSU’s chapter and fashion merchandising major.

Members have access to networking opportunities, internships, scholarships and post-graduation career opportunities. The group also provides workshops for members that focus on interviewing skills and building resumes.

The mission statement of the group focuses on the empowerment of “African Americans and all people of color to reach their highest potential in retail and related industries.”

The organization promotes awareness of challenges minorities face in the workplace to the corporate community and assists in the development and advancement of its members, according to its mission statement.

The organization “gives me a sense of purpose on campus,” Booker said. “It allows me to reach out to those who have a common interest with me and introduce them to this organization.”

The group is working toward BRAG Week in the spring, which will end with a fashion show. The show is a collaboration between the group and Society of Sisters at OSU, an organization that unites young women on campus.

The two groups “will be doing a lot of activities during BRAG week, and the two organizations will be collaborating on the show,” Booker said.

The theme of this year’s fashion show is “empowering and uplifting women through fashion.”

Members from the organization’s sponsors will come to talk to members about diversity and uniting people through business aspects of the fashion world.

Like any fashion-based organization, Booker was more than happy to give her take on today’s styles.

“Fashion is always changing,” she said. “But ‘in’ right now are neutral colors and earth tones, with colorful accents. Military-inspired clothes, and equestrian-styled boots are popular as well.”

Booker doesn’t agree with fashion rules and said “your personal style is a reflection of yourself and personality, there are no rules.”

She also said H&M, Forever 21 and Express are good places to find key articles to complement a wardrobe this season if you’re shopping on a budget.

Because the OSU chapter of BRAG is still new — it was founded in spring 2009 — it is always looking for new and diverse members.

The members of BRAG meet bi-weekly in the Round Meeting Room located on the 3rd floor of the Ohio Union. BRAG’s next meeting is from 6 to 7 p.m Tuesday.

 

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