New UT Class Collaborates To Create Kendra Scott Design

Final Designs

Attending college is not only to receive a college education but also to be prepared for real-world experiences.  A new University of Texas class launched this past semester and gave students a wide range of business challenges with a few hurdles thrown in.

Assistant Professor Jessica Ciarla la saw a need for a class to present real-life business experiences for fashion major and non-fashion students. “I saw a hole in the student learning in terms of what we are doing at UT versus what the students need to do to get to the next level and move smoothly into the job market,” added Ciarla.

After a long vetting process, her curriculum was approved and the Accessory Design, Development and Merchandising class filled up instantly with nearly double on a waiting list.  But to give the class the “real world” feel, Jessica needed a collaborative partner.  So she looked no further than a major Austin fashion brand right down the street.

Accessory Design, Development and Merchandising Class at Kendra Scott Headquarters

“The Kendra Scott collaboration would be a natural fit since the huge brand has such a good collaborative reputation,” said Ciarla.  Both entities jumped in together for the inaugural collaboration.

The class was divided into groups of five and had to meet several benchmarks which included consumer analysis, social media marketing, working with the design team and prototyping a design.  In all, eighteen  Kendra Scott departments assisted the students during the entire process.


Pinar Sarilar, Tianjie Pei, Julia Sotelo, Sara Kopenec and Anita Ghamarian

“We wanted to get a well-rounded approach at how we at Kendra Scott bring a product from concept to fruition”, said Denise Chumlea, VP of Design, Kendra Scott.

About midway through the semester things changed.  COVID 19 shut down the all hands-on class to an all-online format and to make matters more interesting, the Kendra Scott staff was also forced to head home to work.

Winning design! The Elizabeth Ear Cuff

“We just had to figure out how we were going to do this,” added Charla.  And thanks to technology, class groups met on Zoom, 3D cads of the jewelry were created, designs were photoshopped onto models since photoshoots were not allowed and instead of an in-person exhibition that too became a virtual event.

A reported 5,000 votes were cast among the four designs.  In the end, The Elizabeth Ear Cuff Set made the fashion cut with a limited run of the design to be put in production in the near future.  Congrats to Team 2 group members, Pinar Sarilar, Tianjie Pei, Julia Sotelo, Sara Kopenec and Anita Ghamarian.

It’s no secret that all of us having to adjust to what COVID-19 dished out so far this year.  These students will reflect and have learned to adapt to any business AND life situation. “They were really able to come together as a team when COVID hit and they created an amazing outcome for their final project,” said Charla.

Photo credits:  Alyssa Flores / Photographer and with permission UT Textiles and Apparel Department.

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