Lehigh Business marketing major Kelsei Zliczewski ’23 was awarded a $7,500 scholarship from the Fashion Scholarship Fund earlier this month as one of the winners of the 2022 Fashion Scholarship Fund’s Case Study Scholarship challenge.
The FSF awards over $1.0 million in scholarships each year to U.S. college students with the goal of helping students enter and succeed in all sectors of the fashion industry: design, merchandising, marketing analytics and supply chain, according to its website.
Zliczewski, from Berlin, Connecticut, was the first-ever winner in the marketing analytics category from Lehigh since it was added to the competition three years ago. The 17-page slide deck case study she submitted was about cosmetic company Glossier. Founded in 2014 as an online only company, Glossier is known for its beauty content and robust customer community.
“I loved the products, I was already using them, and their marketing strategies were very strong,” says Zliczewski, then asked what drew her to the make-up company. “I wanted to take it out on myself and have that challenge of making it stronger. It pushes you to think out of the box.”
“Pink Points,” a loyalty and rewards program aimed at customizing the customer’s shopping experience; launching “Green Glossier” on Earth Day to emphasize the brand eco-friendliness; and “The Beauty in Difference,” highlighting the brand’s values of equality in beauty and accessibility for all are just some of the strategies in her presentation.
This year’s challenge attracted 459 applicants from 66 universities. Only 123 applicants were selected for $7,500 scholarships. The top four finalists, yet to be named, will each receive an additional $7,500. One top finalist will receive a total award of $25,000. FSF also offers internships, mentorships, as well as talent acquisition, educational and networking events.
Lehigh has been participating in the FSF competition since 2007, averaging two to three scholarship winners each year with six winners in 2020. Last year Lehigh Business student Evelyn Siao ’21 won the top prize.
“The objective is to bring young talent in all different subject areas of the fashion industry,” explains Nevena Koukova, associate professor, Lehigh Business marketing department and campus faculty adviser for the FSF scholarship competition. “So, not only the creative, the design part, but also the business side–marketing/merchandising and supply chain–in addition to their more traditional topics.” The awards are open to any sophomore, junior or senior students at Lehigh, not just business students, according to Koukova.
Zliczewski came to Lehigh as an environmental science major and switched to the College of Business at the end of her freshman year. Soon after she declared as a marketing major. “I really wanted to go down the route where I could be creative,” says Zliczewski. I wanted to take advantage of the ideas I have and would love to build on.” Besides, she says, she didn’t really like accounting or finance. “Marketing is everywhere,” says Zliczewski. “It has to be everywhere and you can take it wherever you want.”
Zliczewski discovered the fashion industry thanks to the pandemic. She says living at home last school year because of COVID-19 was “really boring” leaving her time to research career paths.
“I really got into fashion,” she explains. “I even changed my whole wardrobe and style.” She says she wanted her own look, something that made her feel confident. “A little more edgy, more mature,” says Zliczewski. “I would describe it as glamourous tomboy.” (She’s on Instagram @stylebykelseiamber.)
She notes that it was an expensive endeavor. “But it was something I really loved doing,” she says. “I realized this would be amazing to actually make this my career.”
Zliczewski says she entered the FSF competition with the idea that even if she didn’t win, it would be a great experience and something to talk about on job interviews. “One of the most important things Lehigh has taught me, so far, is to just take advantage of what you're presented with and fully commit to it until you're happy with the end result,” she says.
She credits the knowledge she gained in the classroom and her internships with allowing her to complete her presentation with confidence.
Zliczewski plans to study in Florence, Italy during the spring semester through Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs. Her hope is that FSF network she has now tapped into will help her get a summer internship in the fashion industry.
“This has been a great opportunity to look at my strengths and weaknesses and do something I actually enjoyed doing,” says Zliczewski.
The 2023 FSF case study prompts will be published in March 2022. Lehigh students should contact Koukova for more information. The deadline to apply is October of 2022.
Story by Rob Gerth