Fashion was always something that Becky Hong found interesting, but it was not until she studied abroad at Italy’s Florence University of the Arts that she considered it as an option for her career.
Hong, a senior women’s studies major and president of the Chinese Association at Stony Brook, found Italy’s culture inspiring when she visited in the fall of 2013.
While studying abroad, Hong decided to take some classes on fashion. Along with Italian, she took Fashion Marketing and Shoe Design and Construction Part I. She also took a class held in the university’s Experiential Learning Fashion Boutique. What she learned in these classes helped spark her new-found love for fashion.
Previously, Hong’s exposure to fashion came from watching “The Rachel Zoe Project,” a TV show on Bravo that followed fashion designer Rachel Zoe through the ups and downs of the industry.
Just being in Italy was awakening, according to Hong.
“It was such a rush seeing all of the art, architecture and fashion. It made me realize that fashion is more of an art, not just clothes and tangible things,” Hong said.
While in her fashion marketing class, Hong discovered that one of her classmates wrote for College Fashionista. According to its website, College Fashionista is a blog that allows students to see what their peers are wearing on college campuses around the world and gain valuable fashion tips and insight.
Hong read some of the articles on College Fashionista and decided to apply to become one of the site’s Style Gurus. Once she was approved, Hong was responsible for uploading articles that included pictures and a written piece every week.
“The articles consisted of a lot of impromptu photo shoots,” Hong said, adding that she had to walk up to strangers and ask to take pictures of their outfits.
“I quickly realized that Stony Brook isn’t necessarily the best campus for this,” she said.
Hong mentioned that relative to other schools, many people on campus do not dress up. Stony Brook students dress differently than those on the campus of Fashion Institute of Technology.
Hong did, however, find that the beginning of the week was the best time to look for fashionable outfits. According to Hong, Mondays were the days that many people dressed up.
Hong received a variety of reactions as she approached strangers and asked to take pictures of them for her articles. Hong often got denied by students, who said that they were uncomfortable, needed to get to class, or just thought that they did not look good.
“Some people were pleasantly surprised that I thought their outfit was fashionable enough to take pictures of for my blog,” she added. “It was like a little boost of confidence for them.”
As for her own style, Hong described it as a mix of edgy, glamorous and chic.
“My style changes depending on every mood or setting I’m in,” Hong said. “I wouldn’t describe myself as being too much of anything—not too edgy, not too glamorous.”
Stephanie Chan, the Events Coordinator Assistant for the Chinese Association at Stony Brook, said that she admires Hong’s effortless style.
“From professional, to casual, to sexy, Becky never fails to exude her confidence in whatever style she’s wearing,” she said.
Hong, who is now in her final semester of her senior year, has taken a break from working at College Fashionista due to her hectic schedule. Along with being president of the Chinese Association at Stony Brook, she joined CDT, the club’s dance team.
She also interned at the Career Center on campus and was able to incorporate some other fashion work into her time at Stony Brook by interning at Seventh House Public Relations during New York Fashion Week and with Lola Hats, a fashion designer located in Brooklyn. Running a club, having dance practice, interning and completing school work has made Hong too busy to keep up with deadlines for College Fashionista.
Hong’s interests for her career have always been in business and public relations and she is now trying to incorporate fashion into those fields. She has always enjoyed being her own boss, working in fast paced environments and micromanaging things.
“In terms of leadership, I would describe Becky as objective, approachable, and creative. Overall, working with Becky was a breath of fresh air,” Chan said.
“She usually tries to get insight from everyone around her before making a decision,” Jessica Tan, secretary of the Chinese Association at Stony Brook, said.
“I personally think this is a very wise decision, since it helps to understand other’s points of views before taking action,” Tan added.
Hong plans on trying to incorporate fashion into her career wherever she can by getting more fashion internships and side jobs to build her experience.
Because she has no technical experience, it would be harder for her to get into the industry right after she graduates.
Despite the fact that Stony Brook is not a prominent name in the fashion industry, students get an edge from the good reputation they have among employers while entering the workforce. Hong fits this description.
“An advantage that Stony Brook students have is that they tend to be very willing to work hard,” Joanna Durso, a Senior Career Counselor at the Career Center on Campus, said. “A lot of employers tell us that they are go-getting and willing to do what they are told to do.”