News Release

Students partner with Cortana for hands-on lesson in fashion promotion

Contact: Christina Chapple


Click on thumbnail for high resolution photoJackie Didier, Kristen Renfrow, Tess Guerra, Tiffany Rogers, Cheryl Runez, Brittny McKay, Amanda Rodriguez, Whitney Briggs, Ashleigh Nicosia, Kristen McNab, Jessica Reibe and Dori Young

Caption …

HANDS-ON FASHIONISTAS – Southeastern Louisiana University fashion merchandising professor Jackie Didier and JC Penney Visual Specialist Dori Young join the members of Didier’s fashion promotion class that partnered this semester with Cortana Mall and JC Penney. From left, are Didier, Kristen Renfrow, Tess Guerra, Tiffany Rogers, Cheryl Runez, Brittny McKay, Amanda Rodriguez, Whitney Briggs, Ashleigh Nicosia, Kristen McNab, Jessica Reibe and Young.

HAMMOND – A group of Southeastern Louisiana University students have gotten a hands-on, behind the scenes taste of the real world of fashion promotion this semester through a partnership with Baton Rouge’s Cortana Mall.

     With a slower economy and more customers hoping to get the most out of every dollar, Cortana Mall teamed with the students to show shoppers how they can get the brand names they want that will fit any “recessionist’s” wallet. 

     “Fashion Chic for Cheap” challenged students in Family and Consumer Science faculty member Jacqueline Didier’s upper level Fashion Promotion class to wisely create a current, high-fashion look with only a $40 budget. The students are majoring in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Fashion Merchandising.

     “This exercise is giving our students real-life experiences in understanding the principles of merchandising fashion goods and services while working with experienced professionals in a work-related setting,” said Jacqueline Didier, who teaches the course at Southeastern.  “This reinforces the concepts of time and money management, ideals that never go out of style!”

     Cortana’s Director of Marketing Monique Hester created the experience in conjunction with the launch of a Cortana advertising campaign. The students had to research and identify emerging trends from fashion magazines, entertainment shows, celebrity style magazines, and pop culture, then recreate those looks on a realistic budget. 

     Didier said the 10 students divided into teams to create looks in four categories – socialite, spring break, Easter, and “special occasion” such as prom.

     With a $40 mall gift card in hand, the students were challenged to put together the looks with items from stores throughout the mall.

     “In retailing, the brand is the full experience plus value for money.  Who better to show our shoppers that Cortana has the brands they want at the value they need than college students,” said Hester. “This exercise takes education out of the textbook and into the real world to illustrate what a mall marketing director and fashion merchandising expert do every day.”

     Students involved in the project were Whitney Briggs and Jessica Reibe of Baton Rouge, Tess Guerra of Ponchatoula, Brittny McKay of New Orleans, Kristin McNab of Covington, Ashleigh Nicosia of Slidell, Kristen Renfrow of Watson, Amanda Rodriguez of Houma, Tiffany Rogers of Prairieville and Cheryl Runez of New Orleans East.

     The students said the hands-on experience complemented their coursework, opening their eyes to a number of aspects of the fashion business – including the hard work. The teams purchased outfits, wrote a narrative for a television segment about the trends featured, and modeled their looks in a professional photo shoot at Cortana.

     Hester is using the photographs to discuss items available at the different mall stores in various interviews – including an upcoming appearance April 4 on Baton Rouge televison station WAFB’s Saturday Morning, hosted by Southeastern graduate Kellee Hennessy.

     Reibe was part of the team that tackled the “spring break” look, assembling an outfit of “shiny white jeans, cute wedge shoes, a flowing graphic top.”

     “It was really fun and interesting to see how a fashion shoot works from backstage and be part of a team in carrying out a vision,” she said.”

     “It’s easier to learn when you’re actually doing it – and you get to say ‘I did that!’” said Nicosia.

     “The marketing campaign to promote Cortana Mall as an ‘ideal' shopping experience in Baton Rouge is an ‘ideal fit’ to translate classroom learning into to a real world service activity,” Didier said. “This has been a unique experience for our students, one that they can put on their resume – and who knows where it will take them.”

     The partnership with the students “really worked for us,” said Hester. “The students were fantastic to work with. We knew they would contribute a fresh perspective to our center. They really improved upon what we are trying to do – communicate new campaign.”

     In addition to the partnership with Cortana, Didier’s students also completed two days of visual merchandising at the JC Penney store in Hammond and will attend the Fashion Group International Dallas Career Day April 17.

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