Amid the low, blue lighting, high heels, camera flashes and pulsing music, a network of people, many of them College of Charleston students, buzzes between the tents of Charleston Fashion Week (CFW) ensuring the event runs smoothly. And at CFW’s helm, overseeing public relations and marketing for the weeklong affair, is Angharad Chester-Jones ’03.
“I handle all media, public relations and marketing for Charleston Fashion Week,” Chester-Jones said. Her responsibilities include assembling a team of interns to help with the media events and accommodate the press. “I would never make it through without all their help! They work on managing media schedules, attending events, handling social media, manning the media tent and they act as seat fillers during the runway shows.”
This year, College students Kaelyn Jiran (freshman) and Caden Scott (senior communication major) are among the CFW marketing interns, and Jessie Stringfield (sophomore chemistry major) is volunteering to help with media.
“I heard about volunteer opportunities with Charleston Fashion Week through its website,” Stringfield said. “I’ve always been interested in fashion so this was a great opportunity for me to get involved.”
Scott, who started her career with CFW as a volunteer, explained, “It’s really cool to be part of this event and get to experience it from the inside. People pay for these tickets and we’re a part of creating what they come to see.”
Stringfield added, “I’ll definitely look into interning next year.”
Chester-Jones, who pointed out several different tents before heading to do a radio interview, feels confident working with College of Charleston student interns. “I know that they’re well-rounded individuals who are up for the challenge,” she said. “And I like supporting my alma mater.”
In her position, though, Chester-Jones supports more than the College of Charleston. CFW brings more than $3 million to the local economy, and it gives emerging models and fashion designers a chance to shine among the more established fashion houses that attend. Aspiring designers, Chester-Jones said, have the opportunity to be mentored, and models can walk the runway in front of talent scouts.
“Some of our models have ended up walking runways in Paris and Milan,” she added. “We see CFW as the pathway to New York and beyond.”
In at least one case, a former CFW model coordination intern literally went from Charleston to New York. Hannah Chabot ’14 now works in the Manhattan office of a London-based executive search firm called Liberty Blue Worldwide.
“I loved the fast pace at Fashion Week,” Chabot said. “My experience with CFW taught me that I can handle a lot of responsibility and pressure, which is something you can’t necessarily learn in a classroom.”
For Chabot, who received a communication degree from the College, CFW opened her eyes to creative electricity and the strategic process of finding the brightest talent, which she uses daily at Liberty Blue, now discovering Advertising executives rather than models.
“Organizing rehearsals and fittings for CFW models and figuring out how to solve problems and diffuse conflicts on the fly really prepared me for my current position, ” Chabot continued.
Whether students’ internships focus on the fashion, events, marketing or talent-management side of the CFW, they give students the real-world experience that Charleston promises with its many local events and organizations.
“I moved here almost four years ago to start college,” Scott said. “But I’m going to stay after graduation because I really love it.”