The purpose of this study is to explore collaborative design opportunities in the footwear industry, specifically for VIAJIYU, a small made-to-measure women’s shoe company based out of Florence, Italy. First, a market research study was completed to discover and confirm interest in a new market for fashionable sneakers. Upon IRB approval, an online survey was sent out to better understand customer preferences. Design ideas for the sneakers were created based on customer preferences and further evaluated by lead customers from the survey. Final designs were created with customized options in leather, trim, sole details, etc. Findings from this collaborative design experience indicated that customer involvement was a beneficial component to the design process. This research study helped to build on an understanding of the opportunities of co-creation among custom shoe design and development, with a focus on the impact of current VIAJIYU customer.
Stitched Together: Community Engagement for Undergraduate Student Learning in Supporting Refugee Women06/2020
Refugees coming to the United States often find themselves isolated from their new community and struggle to feel at home. By overcoming language barriers and adjusting to a new culture, they slowly become accustomed to a new place. The purpose of this project was to help change the narrative for female refugees by welcoming them into a collaborative fashion workshop with undergraduate students. The project also aimed to build empathy in students and help them understand the women’s plight and circumstances. Once the students understood the refugees’ circumstances, they could become change agents in shifting public perception toward refugees. Students partnered with a nonprofit organization that offered support to refugee women to create sustainable fashion products in a workshop. The goal of the workshop was to provide them with community resources, increased self-confidence, and earning capacity. The qualitative research uses open-ended survey and focus group interviews for understanding the refugee and student participants’ experiences regarding the community-engaged learning project. Our research findings supported the community engagement objective with mutually beneficial exchanges of knowledge and resources, by providing refugee women hope for future livelihood and the students the opportunity to view and understand different perspectives.