Philanthropic outreach, student involvement and fighting poverty don’t typically come to mind when thinking about fashion, but the minds behind College Dress Relief (CDR) are on a mission to make fashion accessible for students all while trying to make a difference in the world.
Junior public relations majors Danielle Wetzel and Lexi Caccese, both 21, met through Rock PRoductions and bonded over their love of fashion, but found there was a lack of opportunities on campus to become involved with something fashion-centric. They created CDR as a way to combine fashion and Public Relations and to give students with the same interests the chance to join their team. Wetzel and Caccese also created the site to get some experience in the field, and to serve as a resume boost to help them break into the industry.
“Especially for fashion PR it’s so important to have some experience in the fashion world, which is something that we learned at the conference we went to,” Wetzel said. “When I was a freshman and even a sophomore I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and you can do so much with PR, and we wanted to give students more opportunity to experience and explore their interest in fashion.”
Wetzel and Caccese recruited 10 students from Rock PRoductions to join their team who had the same appreciation for fashion, and were also interested in event planning, blog writing and social media. The team’s focus is what sets them apart from other fashion blogs, because while trends and student style are important features on the site, the members of team CDR are also focused on sustainable fashion and finding ways to give back. They’ve become campus representatives for nonprofit FashionABLE, an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of women living in poverty in Africa, and have started their own initiative happening in the quad on Earth Day, Swap Don’t Shop, where they plan to raise funds for Planet Aid and clothing donations for Goodwill.
“Students will bring in their clothes which we’ll donate to Goodwill, and we’ll give them a swap ticket for each item of clothing they bring in which will allow them to shop the already donated clothes,” Caccese said. “One swap ticket equals one item of clothing, and each person can receive up to 10 tickets. If they don’t have clothes to donate, they can buy tickets to shop with instead.”
Their partnership with FashionABLE and their Earth Day event show how they plan on using CDR as a platform to spread awareness of social issues and as a way to fundraise for charities. Wetzel and Caccese would like to host more events in the fall, like a fashion show, in order to break down some of the stereotypes associated with the fashion industry.
“We wanted to give back and have a community relations aspect of our site,” Wetzel said. “There’s so many fashion blogs that just show pictures of people’s outfits and there’s always a stereotype with fashion that’s materialistic and vain. We wanted to show that fashion can help better and change the world.”
Aside from keeping students updated on fashion news, informing their readers on how to get celebrity looks for less and spotting the sartorially inclined students on campus, CDR’s founders are checking the social media accounts of their favorite bloggers and industry insiders. Earlier this month, they attended a conference in New York City hosted by two of their favorite insiders Danika Daly and author of “Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR: How to Begin a Successful Career in Fashion Public Relations,” Crosby Noricks, where they were given firsthand advice from experts on topics from how to break into the business to how fashion shows operate to how PR agencies work.
Style and Communications Director of Keep, Dria Murphy, and social media strategist Cannon Tekstar also made appearances at the event and shared how they transitioned from college to starting their careers working in fashion New York City, which is a career path that both Wetzel and Caccese would like to follow. Both have aspirations of working for agencies, while Caccese plans on using that as a stepping stone to starting her own business and following in the footsteps of her favorite bloggers.