One of LIM College’s most important features for international students is our exchange student program. I spoke with alumna Mayke Johannes about her experience at LIM as an exchange student. During her semester-long program with LIM, she took several courses relating to fashion merchandising, such as Advanced Buying and Planning, Sustainability and the Future of Fashion, International Business, and Retailing: Global and Omni—elements of each of these led to her current job in fashion.
You may be wondering: “How did Mayke end up at LIM?” Originally from Amsterdam, she studied International Business and Management. She dreamed of working as a designer as a child, but as she grew older, she realized, “The fashion world is not as glamorous as one might think.” However, a different side of the fashion industry began to intrigue her. Mayke became curious in learning about the industry’s supply chain, wondering how textiles were made and where clothing is produced. Mayke concluded: “LIM offered the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into the fashion industry and its driving components.” While her childhood dreams of designing slowly dissipated, LIM allowed her to explore a whole other side of the fashion world.
Upon her trip to New York, Mayke faced some challenges. “It took quite some time, money, and processing to finally receive the [visa] stamp on my passport,” she said. Thankfully, contacting LIM about arrangements such as student housing and course scheduling was simple and extremely helpful.
Of her first few weeks at LIM, Mayke said, “Everyone at LIM was very welcoming and put in a lot of effort to organize activities to make exchange students feel included,” adding that her semester spent at LIM is something she will cherish the rest of her life. Mayke said that the professors she encountered along the way are what shaped her experience at the college. She learned about intercultural topics, politics, buying, and planning, and also created life-long connections.
Another great experience Mayke got to enjoy during her time at LIM was New York Fashion Week, where she volunteered and got involved at the Fashion Week shows. Mayke feels working NYFW at such a young age is something she will always remember. “As a student, NYFW feels as if you’re a child walking into a candy store for the first time,” she reminisced. Having these types of opportunities is something Mayke feels cannot be gotten anywhere other than New York.
Currently, Mayke works for Otrium, a company that sells high-end stock from previous seasons. She says it is “a common problem in the haute couture fashion industry that outdated stock is not sold as there is no appropriate channel for it.” This causes tension within the couture industry, which does not want such pieces sold in outlet stores. So, a company like Mayke’s ensures that stock is still sold on the high-end side.
Mayke became interested in Supply Chain work during her studies. “Supply Chain is one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution. My interest in fashion’s supply chain mostly stems from the shift from brick and mortar stores to online websites, which has led to a whole new B2C side that includes reverse logistics, leftover items, and A, B, and C grade clothing.”
Since the fashion industry is a source of pollution, it can be difficult to learn sustainable practices. However, LIM was able to educate Mayke about the industry’s effect on the environment and opened her eyes to working with brands that seeks to make a difference. “To me, fashion is most beautiful when you are working for a brand that actually cares about its factory workers, cotton farmers, and others involved in their supply chain,” Mayke says. Her LIM experience was able to teach her lessons about sustainability and supply chain that later helped her land the job she has now.
While reflecting on her time spent at LIM, Mayke was able to share some advice she wishes she'd had during this time. She urges exchange students to become involved in the abundant extracurriculars that LIM provides, whether that’s joining clubs, working on The Lexington Line, or volunteering at NYFW. “If you want to experience New York to its fullest, you have to include yourself in its diverse scenery and events."
Mayke’s experience in LIM’s exchange program helped her establish amazing networking connections, also opening her eyes to a whole other side of the fashion industry. She concluded, “I’d rather live knowing I took all the opportunities that presented themselves, instead of regretting the things I did not do.”