First Year Syms Student Kayla Garb Wins Prestigious Fashion Scholarship

By: Mindy Schwartz  |  January 22, 2018

Kayla Garb, a first year student in Sy Syms School of Business, recently won a scholarship from the prestigious YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF). As part of her prize she will receive $5,000 towards her education and is eligible to be considered for the National Merit Scholarship, a prize worth $30,000. In addition, Garb’s scholarship comes with valuable internship opportunities and her own fashion industry mentor.

Garb, a member of the Sys Syms Honors Program, is a Marketing major and an Art minor who hopes to pursue a career in business and fashion.  “I have always been interested in fashion, partly because I love art and saw it as wearable art,” she noted. “As I have gotten older, I have become more interested in the science and business of fashion, such as marketing, retail and trend forecasting.”

I was inspired to enter [the competition] because I knew that I wanted to have a career that incorporated business and creativity,” Garb told The Observer. “I thought doing the case study was good practice for the future, because I have always strongly considered a career in the business of fashion.”

The scholarship required competitors to submit a case study which explored how digital technology can be combined with a traditional retail model in order to improve the performance of a specific retailer. Garb chose to create a model for J-Crew. In her proposal only samples of the store’s clothes would be stocked on the sales floor to minimize clutter and potential damage to clothing. Shoppers would use an app to scan the QR of each piece of clothing, which would then be delivered in the desired size to the shopper’s dressing room.

Her model also proposed moving the point of sale to the dressing room by using special technology that could remove the need for shoppers to have to wait on long lines to make their purchases at a register.

Dr Gabriela Coiculescu, assistant professor of Finance at Sy Syms, served as Garb’s faculty adviser for her submission. “Kayla came to me with a very well developed and articulate proposal,” Coiculescu said of her role as Garb’s advisor, “and I have to say that I learned a lot about the fashion and retail industry from reading her case study. I hope that the FSF scholarship will open many opportunities for her.”

While Garb did the heavy lifting for her submission on her own, she was quick to praise Stern as a “great [place] for pursuing [her] goals.” “The fact that it is a small school really helps,” she pointed out, “because there is a lot of one on one attention and many people who try and help you.”

When questioned about her experience entering and winning the scholarship, Garb admitted that while she had a “great experience,” it was “a bit stressful because I heard about it a bit late and had to work on it over vacation.” Garb has received a decent amount of press from local Jewish newspapers, like coverage in The Jewish Link, a newspaper which serves her hometown of Teaneck. She called the coverage “a little overwhelming honestly,” but was quick to note that she is “glad that people get to see a Lubavitch girl who is in college and winning an award from a secular competition.” Reflecting on her win, Garb told The Observer, “I hope I have more successes to inspire more girls like me to pursue a career that is out of the box.”

For fellow artists looking to grow in their work, Garb advises them “to just go for it! I did not think I would win [this scholarship] at all, but I fought through the pressure, and I got it done.”