Faculty Q&A: Andrea Kennedy, Fashion Merchandising

Sustainability is at the heart of what Andrea Kennedy does. As a certified leader in the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, she aims to inspire fashion brands to switch to renewable products. As a full-time faculty member at LIM College, she emphasizes sustainability in her classes and spearheads LIM College’s annual Sustainability Summit.

Tell me about your background and the founding of your company, Fashiondex.

I started out as a designer for women’s wear. Then I transitioned into becoming a merchandiser and loved using the left and right sides of my brain. At one point, I had a large Rolodex of sources, so I created new contact directories for the industry, got a booth at a trade show and sold fashion Rolodexes—tools that I felt I needed as a designer and merchandiser. [A Rolodex, used more often in the past, was a rotating card index containing contact info.] That began Fashiondex, a fashion sourcebook publisher and sourcing information company.

How did you start teaching at LIM College?

A lot of our clients at Fashiondex were professors at other schools and they would ask me to guest-lecture in their classes. I thought to myself, I love this. Then an opportunity arose to teach a class at LIM three years ago on a part-time basis. I did it and was immediately hooked. After two decades of doing the same thing, it’s nice to help other people move into the industry.

What makes LIM College unique?

When I speak with people in the industry, they say they want employees who can understand how to give the consumer what they want. LIM provides the business knowledge to do that. I also love that the College has an urban campus and that students can look around and be inspired by all the colors, fabrics, silhouettes and design details they see on the streets. Another competitive edge is that many of LIM’s adjunct professors are working professionally in the industry while teaching, and they’re allowed to propose ideas for new courses. The curriculum is constantly changing, and I love that.

How would you describe LIM students?

LIM students are very hard-working and ambitious. Most of them work part-time in the industry while taking classes. Students are required to do three internships, so they graduate with an amazing resume. They’re also great Earth citizens, not just citizens of the fashion world, and that’s what the fashion industry needs – concerned citizens who are thinking about equity for all people.

What is your favorite class to teach?

After earning a Master’s in Sustainability, I developed a course specifically for LIM called “Sustainability in the Future of Fashion.” My dream would be for this class to be required for all students because they’re entering a workforce where there will be no choice but to be sustainable.

What are some emerging careers related to sustainability in fashion?

The hot jobs in sustainable fashion right now are director of sustainability, manager of product responsibility, director of environmental impacts, and director of social consciousness, as well as being a product developer for a sustainable brand. Every few months, another cool title pops up so companies can remain relevant in a changing world and work to meet the UN sustainability development goals.