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Elizabeth McLaughlin

  • Hometown: North Scituate, RI
  • Major: Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design
  • Graduation Year: 2014

Why did you choose this degree program?

I chose TMD (Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design) at the University of Rhode Island because my dream is to be a fashion designer. The University of Rhode Island presents a degree program that offers a variety of courses for a wide range of knowledge in fashion. This program allows for classes in merchandising, apparel, and textiles, which creates a solid base knowledge of all areas in fashion. This is everything I wanted to learn and am interested in. I am focusing on apparel production and design but am happy that the University of Rhode Island conducts a well-rounded program.

What inspired you to pursue your career choice?

The initial inspiration for diving into swimwear design grew from lazy summer days at Bethany Beach, Delaware. My childhood summers were spent visiting my Aunty Claudia’s beach house. She had the biggest collection of bikinis and cover-ups. We spent our time at the beach and on the boardwalk in fun summer dresses and swimsuits. I started designing at a young age. As a child I designed and hand sewn clothing for my dolls. As a teenager I redesigned my own clothing, took sewing classes, and started designing and creating swimwear. When I attended the Jacqueline M. Walsh School of Performing and Visual Arts high school, my passion for designing grew. In 2009 I created my Isabela Royale line as my senior project. I debuted a 16-piece collection, planned all aspects of the fashion show (includes models, choreography, theme, music, backdrop, designed jewelry) and created the Isabela Royale website (www.iroyale.com). In 2010 I created my first swimwear line. In 2011 I established Isabela Royale as an LLC, officially making it a legal business. These have led me to where I am now, soon to be graduating the University of Rhode Island as a TMD Major and business owner.

Why did you choose URI?

I first started at Rhode Island College (RIC) taking general education and business classes. I had a good base of business classes but wanted to learn fashion design. After looking at the course curriculum for a TMD degree, I felt that the University of Rhode Island offered everything I needed to peruse my fashion design dreams. I really love the culture of URI, like their slogan “Think Big, We Do” because that is how I am. 

What has been the best part of your studies at URI?

The well-rounded fashion program at URI has given me a different learning experience that I really appreciate. I get a lot out of my studies here at URI because I have learned a wide variety of different topics that will be useful for my everyday work. The best part of my studies at URI were the fashion competitions where I took the knowledge I learned and applied it to creation and design. The Spring Splash competition gave me a positive learning experience creating under pressure, preparing for the different rounds of judging, creating complete looks, and every detail for the day of the show. This experience is true to life experience with the work I want to do.

What’s been the best part of your whole experience at URI?

The best part of my experience at URI is the involvement that I have in my major. I have worked as a teacher assistant for TMD 126 Intro to Design, I am the social chair of FMS, I get involved in the fashion competitions and shows, and I am currently working for Dr. Aspelund’s Space Textile Project. Getting involved, not only academically, allowed me to grow as a person and professionally. The opportunities I have received from my professors have also contributed to my experience and growth.

What has surprised you most about URI?

I was pleasantly surprised at the involvement and caring that the teachers show with the students. The teachers are very engaged and supportive. It added so much more to my education experience.

What do you think of the faculty at URI?

I am very pleased with the faculty at URI. They are caring, engaged, supportive, and very creative with big ideas, which is very necessary for my major. I appreciate that I have learned and been involved in cutting edge topics such as sustainability, eco-friendly design, and new technology.

What do you consider the biggest strengths of your particular program at URI?

I think the biggest strengths of this program are the classroom sizes and teacher involvement. Most classes in this particular program are small to medium size, which I like a lot. It is easier for me to flourish in a smaller classroom setting than big auditoriums. At a small to medium class size, the teacher can give more attention to the students. The involved sewing and patternmaking classes are a perfect size for teacher and student ratio.

What kind of internships, experiential learning opportunities, or real-life experiences have you had?

I have had my designs in multiple fashion shows and events such as StyleWeek, Catwalk to Campground, SWIM, and Raw Boston. Artists Closet is an upcoming show that I will be showcasing my designs and I was also featured in the promotional ad campaign for their show. I am also collaborating with Jillian Banta creating headpieces for her show this August at StyleWeek. I have been featured in publications such as Trade Secrets Magazine and Tigress Magazine.

What’s your “Big Idea”?

My big idea is to continue working on Isabela Royale LLC, designing collections, planning, promoting, expanding, branding, establishing a showroom, and prepping for upcoming shows and press. I want Isabela Royale to be known as a company geared towards women’s swimwear, resort wear, and accessories. I also have an ongoing project under my Isabela Royale Company called Ecology. Ecology by Isabela Royale is an eco-chic line and an interactive website geared towards the promotion of eco-chic living.

What would you say to someone undecided about where to go to school for your particular major/program?

I would tell them about my personal experiences and how much I got out of URI for what I want to do with my life. I would also inform them that getting involved with groups, such as I am with FMS, can enhance their learning experience and get so much more out of just going to classes. Being apart of a group builds a support system and brings out the best qualities in people.

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