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April 3, 2017 7:54 AM

Visual Merchandising Arts students host year-end show

Students in Conestoga’s Visual Merchandising Arts two-year diploma program hosted their year-end portfolio show at Communitech on March 31. The event was a departure for the graduating class which has hosted an annual runway show featuring handmade costumes over the last number of years.

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Graduating students in Conestoga's Visual Merchandising Arts program hosted their year-end portfolio show at Communitech on March 31.

“You really begin to find your way in the program,” said student Erika Brock. “You get a sense early on where your interest lies -- it may be in fashion or decorating -- and this new format lets us demonstrate our interests and where we’d like to take our careers. I like that we can meet more people and make more connections. We took a big risk this year, but it paid off.”

Each student had their own display area at the event where they could present their portfolio and the class projects that best demonstrated their skills and career directions. Pieces ranged from furniture that students designed and built, to packaging and product branding they conceived.

Brock intends to return to Conestoga to complete the Interior Decorating program next year; completion of the Visual Merchandising Arts program will allow her to earn a two-year Interior Decorating diploma in just one year.

Program coordinator Margie Hedges said she was thrilled with the work students prepared and the unique networking opportunity the venue provided. “The students had their work on display all day here at Communitech and we’ve had a lot of interest from people in the building. Our students are the missing link for a lot of engineers behind local startups. Each startup needs services in the areas of branding, packaging and marketing and our grads can deliver. Visual merchandising is not limited to a retail environment.”

Graduates of the program have found a range of employment opportunities with organizations that include Disney World and Leon’s furniture, and more locally with Whistle Bear Golf Club and The Berlin restaurant. Students are pursuing careers that range from professional blogger to event coordinator and home stager.

Hali El-Ech plans to launch a career as a prop designer and included a number of projects in her display area that she welded at a local body shop. She agrees the new format for the year-end show was a success: “I think you get to express yourself more as an artist by sharing the work that reflects your interests.” 

The 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. 

For more information, visit the Visual Merchandising Arts website.

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