National University

National University Alumna Founded Fashion Week San Diego

 Few will confuse San Diego, California with the fashion meccas of Paris, Milan, New York or Los Angeles; but the truth is that the nation’s eighth-largest city is an emerging hub for designers, models and merchandisers.

One event that has helped to foster a thriving couture culture in this community is Fashion Week San Diego. Founded in 2008 by alumna Allison Andrews (B.S., Organizational Leadership, 2010), this diverse seven-day entertainment extravaganza celebrates and showcases San Diego’s leading fashion talent with runway shows, trunk shows, special events and lavish parties.

“I see it as a natural and much needed answer to industry unity in San Diego County,” explains Ms. Andrews. “I’ve worked with designers, manufacturers and retailers in San Diego. There are three dedicated fashion colleges here, an enormous pool of ambitious, creative people, and a thriving retail sector. We’ve always had the resources, along with dispersed pockets of fashion activity, but they weren’t coming together in a collaborative spirit to aid each other.”

The young entrepreneur originally started her own consulting company because she says she knew a lot of people in the fashion industry with common struggles and a similar lack of experience or knowledge.

“Many of them had one strong passion or talent, but maybe they were challenged in management, finance, or some other field,” she adds. “There is so much to learn, and so many to learn from and lean upon. In eight years of being self-employed, I still haven’t met one person who can wear all those hats.

Ms. Andrews pondered how to bring all the different fashion factions together in a supportive circle and build some major business synergy. She says she had an epiphany while sitting around the coffee table, “having a cup of joe.” She calls the inspiration for Fashion Week San Diego “a coffee table idea.”

The National University graduate has come up with a sustainable system that brings San Diego County’s various fashion elements together once a year, but is also attracting buyers and the media. For the area’s best new and up-and-coming fashion designers, it provides a major springboard to discovery and success.

For last year’s event, Ms. Andrews says 48 designers tried out and all of them were fantastic, extremely talented and well qualified. Ultimately, 16 were chosen to participate and were mentored for months leading up to the runway show.

Was the experience similar to the popular television series, Project Runway? “Yes and no,” Ms. Andrews answers. “Yes, because they’re all emerging designers with unique collections looking for their big break. But this isn’t reality TV. We really care about all of these people, and coach and prepare them to have successful careers.”

Ms. Andrews was already a successful business woman when she enrolled at National University.

“I did it because at the end of the day I wanted that degree for myself,” she explains. “None of my clients ever asked me about my academic credentials, but a college education is universal and I believe very, very strongly in the value of my degree. I’m working with, and leading 1,000 plus people in this job. When managing an event this size, I have to be able to relate with and get along with everyone. What I learned at National University has been so invaluable. At the end of the day, I use my lessons for practically everything.”