By Jamilah Simmons
It’s a funny story how Ngoc Cindy Pham, a professor in the Business Management department of Brooklyn College, and Imani Jones '16 connected.
Pham had just arrived in Brooklyn in late August to start her new job as a professor at Brooklyn College. While she was waiting to move into her apartment, she booked a Clinton Hill bed and breakfast that is managed part-time by Jones, who helped Pham settle in.
The two began talking and Pham learned that Jones had recently graduated from the School of Business, and had founded her own company, FYID NYC. The global creative agency specializes in marketing, events, branding, and content creation. Jones was in the midst of putting together a fashion fusion show for the upcoming New York Fashion Week. Pham, it turns out, specializes in fashion marketing and was anxious to jump into things in her new city.
Jones and Pham clicked right away. Within hours of meeting, they hatched a plan to have Pham recruit her business-marketing students to help promote Jones' show, and they even decided to do a Brooklyn College casting call for models and hosts, which was conducted in Pham’s Whitehead Hall office.
"It was fate that we met," says Pham. "Perfect timing," adds Jones. When Pham came up with the idea to collaborate, she says, "we thought it would be an amazing opportunity to include the students of my alma mater in one of the most busy and exciting events of the year."
The show, called the Xchange Fashion Festival—a cornerstone event for Jones’ agency—was billed as a cultural exchange of fashion, art, and music. It was held in the multi-story East Village bar and lounge VNYL. The beautiful people came out for the eclectic affair, which featured a Bhangra dancer, a rap cypher, and an art showcase that included a pair of golden Nike sneakers atop a stack of books. It was quirky, intergenerational, and cosmopolitan cool.
Jones was running to and fro in a black cat suit and a meticulously coifed Afro she has been sporting since her Brooklyn College days. Pham held court with one of the designers from Vietnam, who created the floor-length, split-side tunic and wide-leg pants she wore to the event, and jumped up and down during the rap cypher.
Ten Brooklyn College students walked the runway, one served as a host, and more than 20 worked on the marketing campaign, which relied heavily on social media posts and word of mouth.
Samantha Chan, a senior and business marketing major, was one of the models. She had no modeling experience but she works part-time taking photos for a YouTuber/blogger who is considered a fashion influencer. She hopes to one day work in the fashion industry.
"It was a great opportunity," she said after the show. "Just being around that kind of environment was a good experience for me." For Jones, who dashed off to Milan just days later to produce a similar event during Italy’s fashion week, it was serendipitous to be able to include the students in the multicultural production. "We aim each year to showcase the most beautiful accents of every culture," she says. "It was great to have found models from Brooklyn College that reflected this goal."
It was so great that Jones plans to recruit Brooklyn College students to create marketing strategies for another fashion show in February. She’s asked them to craft a marketing proposal using footage and content from the September show to garner interest, views, and talent via social media and traditional marketing. The best proposal will be used for FYID NYC’s 2019 marketing strategy.
Pham, who is teaching courses on consumer behavior and international business, is just glad to get her students out there. "This is part of my teaching philosophy,” she says. “I’m constantly reaching out to industry to try to get my students experiences working on real-world projects. For us, this partnership is a match made in heaven."