Fashion School Store celebrates one-year anniversary

Kate Kelly

The Fashion School Store, located in the new revitalized area Acorn Alley II, made its grand opening a year ago April 18. The retail store provides an opportunity for fashion students at Kent State University to showcase and sell their products while providing customers with a “unique retail experience.”

“This store is amazing and something I am proud of as a fashion student here at Kent State,” said Nina Zahler, senior fashion design student. “Besides providing customers with a unique retail experience, everything in the store is one of a kind and made by students that study at one of the top fashion schools in the United States.”

Nancy Stanforth, Ph.D., associate professor of fashion merchandising and faculty advisor of the store, said that the biggest change they have had in the last year is the amount of student product in the store.

“We are student oriented; it’s about the students and what they have done,” Stanforth said. “This next year, we want to continue to have student’s work from classes and outside work, too.”

This last year has had its bumps, said Samantha Leta, senior fashion merchandising major and store assistant manager, but it’s been a learning experience and a successful journey.

Leta said besides learning the hard way that the best months for the store are in spring and summer, she learned there is no real direct competitor here in Kent.

“No other store provides handmade products,” Leta said. “This helps our mission and people appreciate our product more because what they get is only seen in our store.”

A huge change for the store was when Scott Bunner, the original store manager, took an opportunity this semester to study in Hong Kong. Leta said that was one of the biggest adjustments the store adapted to.

“This store was Scott’s baby,” Leta said. “He watched it grow, and although he is really happy to be where he is, the management style has changed a lot since he has left.”

The “new” downtown Kent is approaching the finished product, which has helped the store’s foot traffic, especially during the nice weather.

“Downtown Kent has become such a lively place,” Stanforth said. “We are an outdoor place that doesn’t have parking around it, so we are a summer store. We are expecting a lot of foot traffic during nice weather.”

Now that the store has a year under its belt, Stanforth said there are exciting plans for the future, including a clothing line for the store, Suite 202.

“What we are doing now is concentrating on creating an actual line as opposed to student work from classes,” Stanforth said. “Suite 202 will be the store’s collection and will change every season like many lines do.”

“We want to brand ourselves to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty,” Leta said. “Suite 202 is clever because we are suite 202 in Acorn Alley. It’s catchy, and it will keep with you.”

Future plans are coming up including The Fashion School Store’s first ever spring fashion show Sunday, May 5 on the patio in front of the store. For future details about the event continue to check out its Facebook page (

Contact Kate Kelly at [email protected].