Starting Fall Semester 2016, BYU-Idaho will be offering a Bachelor of Science degree in FCS Apparel Entrepreneurship, effectively marrying the current Apparel Design and Construction Concentration with Business and Entrepreneurship courses.
“The purpose of the degree is to better equip students with the needed skills for today’s careers in the apparel design and construction industry,” according to a press release from the university.
Genet Orme, a faculty member in the Department of Home and Family, has been working at BYU-I for the last year and a half and has been heavily involved in the creation of the major. But faculty had been working on the idea a year before she was hired.
“It’s been a tremendous collaboration,” she said. “We are grateful the business wants to work with us. It’s taken a while because it is a new concept.”
Students in the new major will take traditional apparel courses such as clothing construction and patternmaking in addition to business courses.
“These students will go through and make some core business classes and go through the IBC experience,” Orme said.
Darrel Higgins, the home and family department chair, has been involved recently in building the program.
“It’s almost like a double major,” he said. “You have the apparel major and the business major together.”
In preparation for the major coming to the university, Orme researched what employers are looking for.
“It’s not just sewing,” Orme said. “We want to have our students be able to go out and get a job in the industry.”
Orme said the school recently purchased Gerber Accumark, the software that most of the fashion industry uses in their patternmaking.
“It’s the Mercedes-Benz of the industry,” Orme said.
Twenty-four students per semester will be able to be trained in the program.
“The Department of Home and Family will be working closely with KLIM Outerwear in Rigby, the world leader in technical gear for powersports enthusiasts, to provide real-world experience and training to prepare students to work in the apparel industry,” according to the press release.
Starting Spring Semester 2016, the patternmaker from KLIM will be co-teaching a new computer-oriented patternmaking class. In addition, other KLIM designers will help mentor students, according to the press release.
Orme said this major will benefit students who want to have a more traditional family setting.
“A lot of our students want to stay home and have a family and be able to start a business from home,” Orme said. “You can’t do that unless you have the training and technical skills in the apparel design but also how to start a business.”
Orme said that with today’s economy, many women need to supplement their husband’s income.
“We would rather give them the skills to stay home and do that rather than go outside the home and make an income,” she said.
Enrollment since fall semester has doubled in the concentration.
“There are currently 21 students who are officially in the Apparel Design and Construction Concentration,” Higgins said. “We have had about 25 additional students who have notified faculty of their intention to declare the new degree as their major when it is officially available.”
Many students tell Orme that they did not know BYU-I had apparel design.
“We can’t offer everything that a fashion design school offers,” Orme said. “We are lucky to be in a university that caters to degrees, so my students can take the sewing from us but they can go over to the art department and take the Adobe Illustrator class that was previously art majors only.”
Orme said that by collaborating with multiple departments, students are able to get a more rounded learning experience.
“Because of this, I can give them a few key tools in their pocket so when they go out in the industry, they can get their toe in the door,” Orme said.
Higgins said he hopes that in the future, this degree will be available online.
“This would bless the lives of those in other countries who actually do have a great amount of sewing skill, but don’t have the higher level skills,” he said.