Conestoga news

January 22, 2016 11:04 AM

Alumni share success stories at networking event

Conestoga’s first annual Interior Decorating and Visual Merchandising Arts Alumni Celebration on January 20 brought together grads, students and faculty for an evening of networking and the chance to share career achievements. Speakers at the event included Kassandra Dekoning and Rachel Voisin who both found unique opportunities to apply their skills in the field.

Grads, students and faculty filled the design studio on January 20 for Conestoga’s first annual Interior Decorating and Visual Merchandising Arts Alumni Celebration. Guests viewed student work and shared success stories.

Dekoning, who graduated in 2010, is a full-time mom and part-time blogger who started her visual merchandising career in the retail sector. Realizing retail wasn’t her passion, she turned her attention to blogging over a year ago thanks to the encouragement of a friend. Her blog, Little Dekonings, highlights adventures in motherhood, as well as her DIY projects and interior designs.

Dekoning’s blogging has led her to Leon’s Furniture where she is now a contributor to its Hello Yellow blog. She also shared Christmas styling tips on a Breakfast Television segment this past December. Dekoning reminded others at the alumni event to take advantage of the Internet, and platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, to create an online presence where they can share their work.

Student Rachel Voisin has also found success and will soon be heading south to Florida to start her dream job - a visual merchandising position at Disney.

Voisin recently worked at Kitchener’s Deer Ridge Golf Club and helped its golf shop earn the 2015 PGA of Ontario Retailer of the Year award. The shop also won an Association of Golf Merchandisers Platinum Award, which recognizes the top 100 golf shops around the world.

“I knew nothing about golf before I started and that was a little intimidating,” said Voisin. “I got really lucky with a great team at Deer Ridge who looked past that and let me show them what I knew about visual merchandising.”

Deer Ridge was so satisfied with Voisin’s work that they looked to Conestoga for another Visual Merchandising Arts student to fill her shoes now that she’s off to Disney.

“The program teaches you so many different skills and, because of that, there are a lot different career options when you finish,” said Voisin. “It’s just a matter of selling yourself and showing employers what kind of skills you have.”

Conestoga’s Visual Merchandising Arts program is a two-year project-based diploma program that provides students with the opportunity to develop design skills and knowledge in the areas of fashion and visual display. Conestoga is the only college to offer Visual Merchandising Arts graduates the opportunity to earn a second two-year diploma in Interior Decorating in just one year. For more information, visit the Visual Merchandising Arts and Interior Decorating program pages.