Sonje Kozinski '21


Pursuing fashion at Mount Mary

As a young teen, Sonje loved shopping for trendy fast fashion – worn for only a month or so before she became bored and desired the newest trend. Her habit became costly, so her mother encouraged her to “draw the clothes I wanted and then learn to make them.” She collected magazine clippings and Pinterest images of dresses and gowns as inspiration for her own drawings. Her original dream of becoming an actor gave way to the “opportunity and stability that come with a fashion degree.”

Although she considered out of state fashion programs, Sonje decided to stay in Wisconsin for college and entered Mount Mary’s Fashion Design program – a decision she doesn’t regret. “The program is competitive in the way that makes me want to learn all that I can, and thanks to Mount Mary’s small class size, I’ve become well connected to my peers and professors.”

In her first year, Sonje excelled in learning Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop – software that allows her to easily create digital mood boards, color palettes and flat technical sketches. As a result, in Fashion Design I and II, she confidently approaches the “conceptual design process” to first identify her customer and then research the competition to inspire original design solutions to solve a problem and fill a need for that customer – “stretching my thought process beyond designing for just myself.”  

Gaining real-world experience

As a junior, Sonje was proud to be selected to participate in Target’s College Immersion Conference in Minneapolis, where she job shadowed Target’s real-world designers – experiencing the apparel design floor, and attending fittings and Q&A sessions that enlightened her to the many opportunities she has to “contribute to the fashion industry.”

In September of 2020, Sonje was proud to be selected to show her designs at the Voices of Leadership Conference held at Mount Mary. Her vision of a “modern day garment inspired by the 1920’s women’s suffrage movement” gave Sonje a platform to confidently share her personal design aesthetic with an audience for the first time. Her goal is to “always design comfortable clothing to exude confidence vs. dictating what someone should wear.”

Sonje’s design internship at children’s brand Florence Eiseman in Milwaukee included hands-on cutting of sample garments, pressing and steaming samples produced overseas, and packing and shipping online orders. She also attended design meetings – and witnessed the real life design process from beginning to end – experience that confirmed much of what she studied in the Fashion Design program at Mount Mary.

Plans after graduation

As graduation approaches, Sonje plans to reach out to her network of contacts established during her time at Mount Mary.  Her original goal of designing bridal or evening wear – eventually for her own brand – has expanded to include the possibility of “concept design” at a corporate brand level. She credits her education and feels well prepared in the areas of trend analysis, customer focus, and competitive research. Sonje also loves practical creative design – the mood boards, color palettes and fabric selection – all essential elements of the design process. She’s now considering children’s wear design as a possible path to launch her career in fashion. 

Advice to prospective students

Sonje’s advice to prospective students is that fashion design study is challenging. One must leverage practical hands-on skills with conceptual design research and problem solving as an answer to a specific consumer need. Multiple projects, papers and presentations can be daunting. She appreciates Mount Mary’s smaller class size – allowing easy access to faculty for one on one direction – to help maintain balance among all areas of study.

“I feel well prepared for a career in the fashion industry as a result of my Mount Mary fashion education!”

I feel well prepared for a career in the fashion industry as a result of my Mount Mary fashion education!

Sonje Kozinski