Hard Work Is Always In Fashion
Andrea York loved toiling in the fashion trenches. Now she’s inspired to bring her experience to Bay State College.
After years of working in the fashion industry, Andrea York is Chair of the Fashion Department at Bay State College, where she’s been an Assistant Professor for the past five years. She’s always loved fashion, and she’s thrilled to be able share her knowledge and experience with students.
Bay State College: Outside of your work as a professor, can you tell us what you do?
Andrea York: I love art and art history—I sketch at the MFA most Wednesday evenings. P.S. I am terrible at it!
BSC: Can you share any accomplishments you are particularly proud of?
AY: I created a nonprofit wellness center in honor of a dear friend who passed away from breast cancer at the age of 42. The center provided free wellness programs for cancer patients and their loved ones. Two years ago, we merged with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the wellness programs are now provided free of charge there.
BSC: Was there a moment when you knew fashion would be where you landed?
AY: I always knew I wanted to be in fashion. I began working in clothing stores at 14. In high school I realized I like the idea of buying and chose to study the industry in college.
I didn’t consider teaching until I realized how much I loved training my employees in the corporate offices. To think I get to teach this to students is just amazing to me.
BSC: If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?
AY: I would say be patient with yourself. But then I laugh because I know I would have never taken the advice! I was always eager to get to the next level and worked as hard as I could to move up the ladder. In the end I believe being a bit impatient can be an asset—and, as it turns out, I am still trying to be patient with myself!
BSC: What do you view as the greatest challenges and opportunities facing your industry today?
AY: The fashion industry has a sustainability problem. The industry not only pollutes the earth, the industry also exploits workers in developing countries. The great challenge is how to fix an industry that has been this way for decades and has an extensive supply chain, making it difficult to track each segment’s sustainability. This is also an opportunity. Millennials and Gen Z are eager to protect the environment and human rights. Our students study this topic extensively and have become committed to being stewards of industry, labor, and earth.
BSC: What do you view as the greatest challenges and opportunities facing students—specifically those entering your industry—today?
AY: The competition in immense. Fashion companies are looking for students who are critical thinkers, math literate, and proficient in new technology. We are always reviewing our required courses to assure our students will be industry-ready.
BSC: You’re an expert in your field. What is something your students might be surprised to learn about you?
AY: Although I seem like I am a tough and strict professor, I care about each and every one of my students. I think about them when I am not at school and I worry about them if they are having trouble. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to best meet their needs—even when I am scolding them for being late!
BSC: You’re at a party and somebody asks you what you do for a living. What’s your answer?
AY: I always say “I am lucky enough to share my passion with a group of young minds.”