It’s rare to walk into a Yale Entrepreneurial Society event and find as your fellow audience members a few dozen fashion-forward Yale women. Maybe that’s because YES has up to now narrowly defined “entrepreneur” in terms prescribed by the traditional business world.
Amy Jain ’04, YES vice president of external affairs, wants to change all that, and her efforts to coordinate the YES and School of Management’s “7th On Yale” series are quite a start.
“Up until this fall, YES has focused in on entrepreneurship as it relates to the more conventional career paths chosen by Yale graduates, like business and finance,” Jain said. “I wanted to start opening the organization up to more diversity, changing peoples’ notions of what it can mean to be an entrepreneur.”
Based on this idea, Jain conceived of three series of lectures and events. The first series, “7th On Yale,” takes on the fashion industry over the course of three weeks, the first week of which comes to a close today. The next two lecture series will focus on journalism and entertainment and are slated for the spring.
“7th on Yale” kicked off its first week with Dr. Valerie Steel, author and curator of the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, public relations legend Elizabeth Harrison, and Vogue Editor at Large Andre Leon Talley. While next week’s agenda is yet to be announced, Jain promised fashion greats ranging from Diane Von Furstenberg to Bisou Bisou designer Michelle Bogot during week three.
“I’m thrilled with the speakers we lined up,” Jain said. Jain worked with a team of students to do research and make contacts, including Ella Gorgla SOM ’04, Vanessa Lawrence ’04 and Katherine Capelluto ’04.
Gorgla, who has worked in the fashion industry, was attracted to the project even though — like Lawrence and Capelluto — she is not a member of YES.
“I loved it. It was amazing being involved in something that really moves you. And fashion moves me,” Gorgla said.
YES’s turn to the fashion and entertainment industry may seem an unusual undertaking for a student body like Yale’s, which has never been noted for postgraduate pursuits in these fields. Courtney Williams ’03, however, represents a minority of students on campus hoping to break into the fashion industry once out of college.
“Most Yalies may not be glamour-oriented, but there is definitely a loose network of undergraduates who are moving toward careers related to fashion,” Williams said. “It’s promising to see that campus organizations like YES are starting to take this interest more seriously. I think the ‘7th on Yale’ speakers are top-notch and really represent a step in the right direction.”
This Wednesday’s guest speaker, Elizabeth Harrison of the fashion public relations firm Harrison and Shriftman, emphasized a similar appreciation for YES’s latest endeavor.
“I think PR, fashion PR in particular, is more and more becoming recognized as the valid professional field it is,” Harrison said. “I’m thrilled to see the Yale campus opening itself up to and embracing diverse career choices.”
Gorgla agreed that the industry hasn’t always gotten the respect it deserves.
“There are a lot of people who regard the people who work in the industry as pretentious and focused on image. But if you look hard at how they work, you’ll see that some of them are brilliant,” Gorgla said. “They are able to sell you something for $400 that only costs $15 to make in Taiwan.”