Jaylen Moore is not a student at Tennessee Tech University anymore, but a project she worked on with nine others will have a lasting presence at her alma mater.
Shortly after graduating with a merchandising and design degree, the Cookeville native’s purple and gold plaid won a class competition to create the university’s official tartan.
“It’s kind of surreal. I’ve already had people ask me to let them know when it’s in the bookstore,” Moore said. “It’s crazy to think I could be walking around town and see my plaid on someone.”
The plaid will be licensed with the Scottish Register of Tartans, a Scottish organization that preserves and promotes historic and contemporary tartans. It will be produced by Collegiate Tartan Apparel and available for purchase in time for the university centennial at that company’s website and the campus bookstore.
A portion of all proceeds will go to scholarships for students in the School of Human Ecology, which houses the merchandising and design program, according to Lizabeth Self-Mullens, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology and professor of the tartan course.
In addition to designing the plaid, the 10 students wrote a marketing plan and designed a merchandise hangtag to tell the story of the competition. They helped to decide what items will have the plaid on it, including bow ties and scarves, stadium blankets and homework planners.
“I think we worked really well together,” Moore said. “Dr. Mullens makes us do a lot of group activities to make sure we all know each other.”
“She’s a professional and she believes it’s all about networking and making a connection with your colleagues,” the alumna said. “And it’s true because we are going to need these contacts in the future.”
The plaid was designed using a computer-aided design program, which is becoming more common in the fashion world. Mullens says she plans to use it more often at TTU. The program was purchased through a grant from the university’s quality enhancement plan.
“The competition was a good way to get this project done,” she said. “The QEP is about real-world experiences. Competition is what happens. In a way, this was a juried critique of their work, which I think was important.”
While the vote was going on in Tennessee, several from the tartan class and others from the fashion and design program were touring New York City’s fashion industry. For a week, they explored designers’ ateliers, fashion magazine offices, and silk flower and mannequin manufacturers, among others.
“We try to get into a cross-section of the industry,” said Mullens, who organizes the summer fashion industry study tours. “The students really find out they can do so much more.”
Moore knows what she will be doing with her degree. Shortly after her return from New York City, she and several other students got an email from Kelly Fitzpatrick, owner of the Baxter boutique Three Little Birds. The shop will be moving to Cookeville under the name Caravan and Fitzpatrick was looking for an assistant manager.
“I replied instantly because that was exactly what I was looking for,” Moore said. “It’s very boho-chic which is my style. I have my own blog, the Wandering Bohemian, and I had that on my resume. It’s kind of an online portfolio.”
One of the reasons Fitzpatrick may have thought to contact TTU fashion students, Moore said, was because their fashion merchandising association has used items from the store in fashion shows. A few times a year, the students organize shows where they select and accessorize looks, host a silent auction to help fund study tours, and occasionally design garments themselves.
“These students are very supportive of each other. It’s ‘maybe try this’ and ‘what about this.’ They really work together,” Mullens said. “It’s good because the new, young designers are very supportive of one another. They are in competition, but there are fashion incubators developing and fashion weeks starting all over.”