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Krista Zolton: A Summer Abroad

Name: Krista Zolton

Major/Minor: Fashion Merchandising/Marketing

Year: Senior

Hometown: Saginaw, Michigan

Her Campus: What was the internship?

Krista Zolton: I interned with a fair trade and nonprofit company called Global Mamas in Cape Coast, Ghana. All products are produced in Ghana with a home office in Minnesota, USA. I worked as a marketing and merchandising intern for the Cape Coast location.

HC: Did you get to travel to other places with the internship as well?

KZ: My internship was mainly in Cape Coast, but I lived in Elmina in the volunteer house about ten minutes away by taxi. I got to travel my first week to our co-founder’s home in Accra and continued on to the Krobo location to do research on trends in different areas of Ghana. There, I got to discuss new products for the 2018 jewelry line. I also traveled to Takoradi to attend a Pentecostal church service with my Ghanaian friend Felix and Volta Region to camp, hike, and feed monkeys for the weekend with other Global Mamas interns and volunteers. I really got to travel around to different areas of Ghana which was one of the best parts of my internship!

HC: What position and roles did you hold within the company?

KZ:  I was there as a marketing and merchandising intern, but I got to touch on every part of the business throughout my time there. While in Ghana, I had three main projects that I finished by the end of my internship, as well as other side projects; like balancing the financial records for producer payments, assisting with blog interviews and photography, a jewelry photoshoot, sitting in on and offering opinions for the 2018 line design meetings, and helping the quality control staff with making sure products were ready for export.

HC: What were these projects you accomplished throughout your time in Ghana?

KZ: My first main project consisted of checking out the Accra retail location and coming up with ideas for the store redesign in order to have a more upscale aesthetic. My ideas were actually reviewed by one of the co-founders and implemented a week after I sent her the PowerPoint of ideas. I was able to then go to Accra during week 7 of my internship to help perform the redesign as well as set up the mini-shop in Cape Coast. My second project consisted of creating style guides using Polyvore to show customers how to wear our products year-round instead of just in the summer. I only used ethical fashion brands, members of the Fair Trade Organization, or “Made in the U.S.” brands to make it even more relatable to our mission as a company. These were used for our blog and social media platforms. For my third project, I compiled all the submissions for the annual Design Competition and helped organize the awards for the Mama of the Year Celebration. There were two categories that producers could submit their products into: sewn goods and batik goods. It was awesome because I got to meet the Mamas who made the clothing or printed the batik fabric. 

HC: What experiences did you have abroad versus what you could have had at home?

KZ: This internship made me go outside of my comfort zone on so many levels. It was my first time in a developing country and first time overseas, so I learned a lot about different cultures and the importance of humbling yourself and truly learning from someone else’s perspective. Air Canada also lost my luggage for a week and a half, so it made me take a step back and refocus on why I was there and to trust God fully while I was on this adventure. I think the greatest experience I had while abroad is seeing the effect that an ethical or fair trade business model can have on the lives of those involved. It’s one thing to shop at Everlane and know that you are spending money with a company that has their priorities in order, but it’s another thing to see a product through its entire cycle and meet every person involved in each step of the process. These women are proud to be a Global Mamas producer and they are constantly smiling, hugging, and thanking God for their jobs and the fact that they are alive and well.

HC: What’s the most important thing you learned while in Ghana?

KZ: Everything you do in life, whether you can see it immediately or not, can help make someone else’s life better. Make the right choices now, like changing the stores you shop in, and the world will change around you.

HC: What did you learn that will most impact your future career?

KZ: I learned that nonprofit organizations aren’t necessarily where I want to work in my future. While I love the philanthropic nature of the business, I need to work in an environment with more structure and where I can focus on one job specifically. I also learned that I want to try and volunteer at least once a year in a developing country with sustainability projects or any other way I can help. Once my bank account allows that travel though.

HC: What’s your favorite memory from the trip overall?

KZ: My favorite memory from my trip was when I went hiking in the Volta Region of Ghana with other volunteers and interns. It was so gorgeous! Like nothing I have ever seen before. We spent the day hiking the tallest mountain in Ghana (Mount Afadjato), swimming in Wli Falls waterfall, and fed monkeys in a sanctuary all while visiting with the local people of Ho, Ghana.

Follow Krista!

Instagram: @kayzolt

Twitter: @KayZee

Shelbie studies journalism at Kent State University, while also concentrating in fashion media and writing. She’s a true coffee addict and enthusiast. You can easily find her at a local coffee shop or the campus library. Her career goals include working within the publishing industry, becoming a travel writer and voicing the voiceless in her work. She’s excited to work with Her Campus and see what’s in store for the Kent State chapter.
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