Redefining the Classroom

Marketing student/fashion maven says L.A. is absolutely mah-velous

Posted: July 18th, 2014

PRELUDE TO LA – Lake Superior State University students model fashions made by business administration/marketing major Helena Wollan (center, with tongue out) after last spring's, Food Fashion Superheroes vs. Fantasy. The fashion show featured all manner of snacks and sweets shaped by Wollan into 23 food-based costumes and choreographed to a theme of graphic-novel superheroes. The program – held in LSSU's Arts Center - raised more the $2,000 for the American Cancer Society. Wollan has combined her experiences from these shows with a 2012 Glamour magazine internship into a summer job in Los Angeles with a company that represents fashion jewelry-makers and brokers their work at trade shows. Wollan's models are, beginning with the four clustered in front, left to right, Erin Scott, Alex Cook, Taylor Worsham, and Kristin Berry; the king in front-right is Keith Swendsen. Seated to Wollan's left are Justin Sieger, Katie Wollan, and Gabriel Schmidt. Clockwise around Wollan from row two is Christian Reattoir, Anne Serbinski, Angela Ware, Caitlyn O'Sullivan (seated), Charyse Reinfelder, Shontora Anderson, Ella Rechner, Mckayla Worsham (seated), and Ilsa Salo. (Photo by Drew Putvin)

A print-resolution photo that runs with the caption above can be found by clicking here.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University's Los Angeles branch campus is off to an absolutely fabulous start. So says marketing major and passionate fashion designer in the making, Helena Wollan, who's been out in the City of Angels since June interning for a company that represents fashion jewelry-makers and brokers their work at trade shows.

A Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., native who also serves as Wollan's mentor started the company, Jena Weir Sales, six years ago. Weir has wholesale jewelry companies with showrooms in Los Angeles and New York City. Wollan hopes to gain new knowledge and contacts before venturing off to other big cities around the world chasing a few dreams of her own.

The summer work folds nicely with another experience she enjoyed in New York, where she spent the summer of 2012 at Glamour magazine as an accessory department intern.

“I am so excited for the opportunity with Jena and look forward to expanding my knowledge in jewelry design and sales,” Wollan said. "I have gotten the opportunity to meet a few of the designers we represent and help organize displays of their brands in our showroom. I've also done work on the company's Web site."

Wollan attended a launch party in June for well known jewelry designer Vanessa Mooney's holiday collection hosted at the designer's house.

"That was an awesome experience because there were so many other influential designers, artists, stylists, and business entrepreneurs there," says Wollan.

Celebrities such as Katie Holmes, Vanessa Hudgens, Jennifer Lopez, Lily Allen, Jessica Alba, Hilary Duff, Megan Fox and Emma Roberts wear Mooney's designs. Mooney's pieces can be found in more than 500 of the top specialty stores and boutiques in the U.S. and abroad, including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Cusp, ShopBop, Nasty Gal, Free People Urban Outfitters, Bergdorf Goodman, Revolve Clothing, Singer22, LF Stores, Scoop NYC, Madison and American Rag Cie.

Weir and Wollan will fly out to Las Vegas for the ENK Vegas trade show at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Aug. 18-20. ENK International organizes trade exhibitions twice a year - in New York City and Las Vegas - that include nearly 10,000 design companies. The shows attract 250,000 domestic and international buyers that produce sales of more than $1 billion.

The ENK Vegas show falls very close start of LSSU's fall semester on Aug. 25, and the beginning of Wollan's senior year.

One capstone project that awaits her is the third installment of what's become an annual spring fashion-come-art show where Wollan designs and choreographs original clothing, jewelry, and stage productions to benefit the American Cancer Society. Between the first two shows, Wollan has brought in – after expenses – almost $5,000 for cancer research.

Last April's Superheroes vs. Fantasy was filled with candy, and other snack foods. Each outfit contained some sort of food-related item that highlighted a different character and conveyed a unique personality. All told, 20 outfits were designed and made by Wollan along with the other designs provided by friends. The program tapped the modeling talent of 23 women and a couple of men, mostly LSSU students. The show included an auction of LSSU's "finest men" for dinner or luncheon dates, courtesy of gift certificates provided by area restaurants. LSSU Student Government helped underwrite the show with a cash grant, as did a number of area businesses with donated goods and services.

“These fashion shows have brought me so much joy," says Wollan. "Although they are time consuming and demand plenty of hard work, I am also grateful for the experience they have given me.”

Wollan is blogging her ongoing Los Angeles adventure via the Web site Tumblr. Click here to follow her summer in L.A. and get in on the planning for next spring's fashion show at LSSU.


CONTACTS: Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314