Adia Kolell '21

Mount Mary University Fashion Department Assistant


From architecture to fashion design

As a high school student, Adia had plans to pursue a degree in architecture. A teacher was aware of her interest in design, and noticing her solid sewing skills, encouraged Adia to consider fashion design as a career path.

“I was so uncertain of myself, but after I started looking into different colleges and career options, I knew Mount Mary’s Fashion Design program would be a good fit for me.”

While touring, she observed fashion students who were “passionate about what they were accomplishing in the program.” Mount Mary’s suburban campus was spacious but still near enough to the city, and the smaller class sizes meant Adia would easily connect with other students and faculty “for a more personal education.” She also appreciated the attentive admissions counselors who promptly responded to all her questions. 

Adia excels in fashion design studio classes, where she learns and applies the hands-on patterning and construction skills necessary to confidently transform her original design sketches into expertly fit garments. 

“There’s many challenges involved in the process of creating an original design, and I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finesse the pattern pieces to fit together perfectly when sewn.”

Creating award-winning designs

Adia was proud to be one of 3 students nominated to participate in MKE Lifestyle Magazine’s People’s Choice Award feature. Her tailoring class project, a menswear overcoat that she designed and constructed was photographed and appeared in the magazine. 

Mount Mary Fashion invites students to participate in extracurricular design competitions with various partners, and Adia has participated in both Milwaukee’s American Heart Association Red Dress runway event (2019, 2020) and The Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Student Design Challenge (2019), where she was recognized with the Best Construction Award for her “Hollywood on a Budget” runway dress design.

Community connections and new opportunities

Her 2019 summer internship at Ripon Athletic, an active wear design and manufacturing company in Berlin, Wisconsin was so successful that Adia was invited to return in the summer of 2020. As a pattern development associate, she not only gained insight into the manufacturing process, business and design operations of the company, but also learned to operate various industrial sewing machines. 

Adia is building her network of fashion industry contacts as she completes her fashion design degree at Mount Mary. She volunteers as a sewing leader in Winnebago County 4-H and meets other 4-H leaders from across Wisconsin. Her work as a model for various Milwaukee area fashion designers has connected her to photographers, and she designs and sews “commissioned clothing projects” for others in the community.  

Mount Mary’s fashion design program has enlightened Adia to the many career opportunities in fashion.  Her ultimate goal is to develop her own branded clothing collection, perhaps with a partner. But first, she knows she’ll benefit by gaining real-world industry experience and expand her network by working for a corporate retail brand, or perhaps another local design and manufacturing business like Ripon Athletic.  

Advice to current students

Adia’s advice to those entering Mount Mary’s Fashion program as a path to a career is to “follow your passion and stay motivated through the challenges.”

Follow your passion and stay motivated through the challenges.

Aida Kolell '21