Photo by Bruce Gilbert
Kristen Adderly had no intention of getting swept up in the fashion industry, but there she was in March working with Donna Karan herself, right before the renowned designer’s spring fashion show in New York City.
“Donna Karan asked me what marketing meant to me, and I told her, ‘It’s making trash look like gold and making gold look untouchable,’” said Adderly, who, at Karan’s direction, pinned and arranged dresses the morning of the fashion show. “She said she liked that a lot.”
Adderly, who will graduate from the College of Business Administration with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, spent the previous summer interning at the designer’s New York office, where she tracked inventory and fabrics coming in from Milan and ensured that the company’s big-name accounts, including Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman, received their shipments on time. On several occasions, she joined Donna Karan sales representatives as they met with vice presidents and other executives at some of New York’s upscale department stores.
“The experience was really influential in shaping my career aspirations,” said Adderly, who one day hopes to be the CEO of her own high-end couture company. “I was an intern, but I wasn’t just being treated like an intern. People listened to me and respected my opinions.”
They also admired her initiative. Adderly was hired as an unpaid intern last summer, but her contribution was valuable enough that the company hired her as a paid temporary employee after the internship ended in August. Eager to learn all aspects of the business, Adderly requested to spend some time in the design division, where she eventually met the company’s namesake.
After graduation, Adderly will join Donna Karan full time as a sales assistant in the marketing department.
A Germantown, Md., native, Adderly always knew she wanted to go to college, and ultimately work, in New York City. Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, she said, offered the best of both worlds: easy access to Manhattan and enough green space for her to feel at home.
“I came to Fordham and it was just so beautiful on campus,” she said of the 85-acre campus in the Bronx. “It’s a different world,” she added, a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
When she wasn’t interning or prowling the city’s downtown boutiques for the latest fashions, she was busy overseeing Fordham’s ASILI, an African-American student organization. As the club’s president, Adderly learned some of her most important business lessons. She put her marketing skills to good use, organizing several well-attended events for the club, including a lecture by author, rapper and community activist Sister Souljah, who visited the Rose Hill campus in February to kick off Black History Month (see photo on page 8). She also managed to reinvigorate the club’s annual Black and Gold dinner, hosting the event on the cruise ship Spirit of the Hudson. Attendance more than quadrupled this year.
“ASILI really showed me how to plan, manage my time and budget,” said Adderly, a dean’s list student. “and being the president helped me understand all the aspects of running an organization, which will help me in the fashion and business world.”