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Students organize second day of virtual Michigan Fashion Media Summit – The Michigan Daily

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The second day of the Michigan Fashion Media Summit discussed the intersection of fashion, technology and mental health in the fashion industry.
The summit began at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday with a panel conversation regarding the role of technology in the future of the fashion industry. During the discussion, Scott Zalaznik, senior vice president of digital at Adidas, discussed how similar marketing has become in the athletic and fashion industries.
“Increasingly, we are seeing a connection between the two,” Zalaznik said. “Celebrities (are) worried about staying in shape, athletes are interested in fashion. The consumer is less distinctive of these two, which is a universal trend.” 
Julie Bornstein, another panelist, discussed the role of product managers, what it means to consider the user experience and understanding customer behavior. Bornstein is the co-founder and CEO of THE YES, a shopping platform that utilizes artificial intelligence technology to personalize the consumer experience. Before exiting the panel session, she advised aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience to seek out learning opportunities and make the most from the networking offered through the virtual summit. 
“There is nothing that replaces experiences, (so) absorb as much as you can,” Bornstein said.
The event also featured a keynote conversation with fashion designer Rachel Zoe and producer Rodger Berman centered on their journey and role as CEOs. They talked about the positives and struggles that come with being in a high position of leadership and provided good strategies for those who may be starting to build an entrepreneur profile. 
Zoe emphasized the importance of using commercial thinking to drive one’s business model.
“You have to have a deep understanding of what your consumer wants,” Zoe said.
Both Zoe and Berman also reflected on how switching their career paths allowed them to pursue their passions in entrepreneurship. Previously Zoe was a stylist while Berman spent eight years as an investment banker and starting a media company.
The summit then proceeded with an open conversation about mental health awareness in the fashion industry with entrepreneurs Peiman Raf and Katie Sands. Raf is the co-founder of MadHappy, a brand that aims to enhance consumer optimism and open conversations around mental health, while Sands is the founder of lifestyle blog HonestlyKate. 
Raf discussed how mental health awareness in the fashion industry needs to be more accessible and hopes to see more benefits in the internal workplace for mental health.
Sands agreed with Raf and encouraged audience members to consider finding activities that bring them joy.
“If you have a brain, you have mental health,” Sands said. 
Sands also mentioned the importance of finding inspiration, sharing how oftentimes the desire for originality can be overrated since many brands have taken inspiration from others. 
Toward the end of the day, students proceeded to network with different professionals and peers. 
In an interview with The Daily, LSA senior Kate Lowenbaum, MFMS co-president, discussed the planning efforts required to create the virtual summit.
“I definitely couldn’t have done this without the support and without the continuous motivation, passion, and high levels of precision of the entire Student Planning Team,” Lowenbaum said.

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Business senior Uma Chalik, MFMS chief operating officer, agreed and told The Daily she was proud of the organization’s ability to remain flexible and has learned new ways to effectively communicate. Chalik said she found following up with keynote speakers was effective in continuing panel discussions and making sure the conversations remained engaging for a virtual audience. 
“In theme with the rest of this year, (our summit) has been pivoting in adaptability, and that has definitely shined out today as well,” Chalik said. “It’s been a continuous learning session and it’s been so cool to watch it all now come to life.” 
LSA senior Juliette Sibley, MFMS co-president, recalled the main reason she joined the organization her freshman year in an interview with The Daily.
“So many different students of diverse backgrounds and various interests came together for this one collective mission to connect industry professionals and fashion retail media to the really bright students at the University of Michigan, and to bridge that gap that really has been lacking beforehand,” Sibley said. 
Daily News Contributor Nirali Patel can be reached at [email protected]

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