Vera Bradley’s vice president of merchandising visits KSU Fashion School

Felicia Guadagni

The fashion merchandising program at Kent State University’s Fashion School garnered attention when it hosted keynote speaker Rosemary Ricketts, Vera Bradley vice president of merchandising, Monday night.

Prior to the presentation, Ricketts, who has been a member of the Vera Bradley team for 18 months, was given a tour of the Fashion School and met with a class during the day. Gracylane owner Tom Gober introduced Ricketts during the evening presentation, where she discussed Vera Bradley’s brand story, the role of merchandisers for the brand, and increasing brand relevance for company.

“The Fashion School is really incredible,” Ricketts said. “I was really impressed by the high caliber of students and faculty.”

According to the Kent State Fashion Merchandising Department program description, “Fashion merchandising careers require a blend of fashions sense and business expertise”, which Ricketts’ touched on in her presentation.

“Designers can produce a ton of product, but merchandisers help the design team to figure out what to produce for sales,” Ricketts said.

The audience that gathered in Rockwell Auditorium was mostly made up of students. Mallery Karnas and Liz Thomas, senior fashion merchandising majors, were impressed with what they learned during the event. The two said they were not aware of Vera Bradley’s merchandising department prior to the presentation.

“I didn’t know they had a merchandising team like the one Rosemary described, or that they had so many new products,” Karnas said.

Thomas said the event was beneficial for herself because of the merchandising insight provided by the speaker.

“I came because it’s the first year for this merchandising symposium and since I’m a senior, I want to do everything I can,” Thomas said. “I think that people who didn’t come missed out.” 

Angie Wische, one of the student organizers for the event, said it’s always special when the Fashion School gets the opportunity to host an industry professional, and felt the event was a success. 

“Who wouldn’t want to come out to see an industry professional speak and be a part of such a special evening?” Wische said.

Felicia Guadagni is the fashion reporter for the Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]