PENSOLE Academy has today launched L.E.A.D. (Leaders Emerge After Direction) by Design, a new program partnering with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to introduce students of color to footwear and functional apparel product-creation careers and provide the industry with a more diverse talent base.
"This new program provides the footwear and functional apparel industry with a new, non-traditional source for diverse talent," commented PENSOLE founder D'Wayne Edwards. "It also provides HBCU students visibility to careers they might not have known about before because those options were not made available through their schools. Our goal is to break down those barriers of disconnection and connect the students to the industry, and the industry to a more diverse talent pipeline."
L.E.A.D. by Design is a different, longer format than most PENSOLE master classes. Anna Smith, Director of Education for PENSOLE, created this format with the goal of offering interested students the ability to gain knowledge and skills specific to the product creation industry, without interfering with enrollment at their primary educational institution. The program comprises three seminars that will take place from March - November 2020.
Seminar A | Design Development
Up to 60 applicants will be selected to participate. With guidance from PENSOLE staff, these students will fine-tune their designs and design thinking. Through online critiques and demos that emphasize the foundations of design, creative thinking, and storytelling, the student designer will build professional and personal growth. This program is designed to prep students for the PENSOLE master class without interfering with curriculum at their primary colleges. Thirty of these students will advance to Seminar B, an in-person master class, hosted by the Industrial Design Department, College of Design at NC State University.
Seminar B | Master Class
This intensive will teach what it is like to work on a professional product-creation team. Students will focus on one of the following three tracks: color and material design, footwear design, and functional apparel and/or accessory design. Students will work on individual and team projects over the course of the three weeks, culminating in a final presentation in front of recruiters and leaders from top brands in the athletic and outdoor industries.
Seminar C | Survey of Design Practices
Looking to product designers of color throughout history as precedents for its coursework, students will further their exploration in design foundations. Through creative inquiry and application, they will design and develop business cards, resumés, and portfolios for themselves, bolstering personal and professional growth that will prepare them for internship opportunities or entry-level jobs in the industry.
Photo: Courtesy of PENSOLE Academy