Fashion, Fun, and Influence, Oh my!

“The idea of one. It takes one person. One book. And One summit that can get you over the hump. It’s like buying a lottery ticket, it takes one to win”  

- David Creech

The Michigan Fashion Media Summit (MFMS) was more than just an event for fashion-forward individuals, it is a rising movement. On April 12th, for the second annual summit, over 15 highly acclaimed guests, a hardworking MFMS team, and a truly aspirational executive board came together to put on an amazing show. Roughly eight hours of pure passion and fun, the 2019 summit revolved around a “community of like-minded individuals getting together and being inspired.”

The day started out with opening remarks from the founders and current executive members who set the tone for a day you just had to be there to experience. Vendors, companies, and fun activities like a photo booth made Stephen M. Ross School of Business the place to be. The summit was organized, classy and jam-packed with fashion goodness. From 9:00 in the morning until about 4:30 in the afternoon, a well-crafted lineup of speakers and guests served up advice, insight, tips, and pure energy for the industry. Hosted by the vibrant Sophia Macks, founder of Beyond the Mag, the day started with a fun introduction and captivating remarks on the essence and creation of the MFMS. In its second year of glory the MFMS was designed out of a need. A need shared by fashion lovers, and industry pursuers who know that the University of Michigan did not have a major, program, or facet to support in such retail career endeavors. A need for a legitimate collective that builds connections to the fashion world and bridges the gap between hopes and dreams and what is actually possible. Macks comments to the founders, “you have created something new” is a true testament to the creation of the MFMS and the wonder that it offers, all for the love of fashion.      

Sophia Macks put it well that in the world of fashion, “there is room for everyone.” Taking it a step further she discusses that “Fashion is an umbrella term. It will relate to you in ways you never knew.” This was a nice opening into the first keynote speaker of the day: Jennifer Powell. Powell is an influencer, talent manager, and digital brand strategist who spoke powerfully on authenticity in the industry. A special part of this summit was the unique pieces of advice from every individual who had the mic. Motivating ambition, creativity, and individuality, two keynote speakers, two breakout sessions, and three panel discussions culminated in a day of fashion knowledge gold.

Full of many great moments, panel two, The Art Of Storytelling: Personal Branding In The Digital Age, is full of some of my favorite highlights. Led by Sophia Chabbott, digital director at Women’s Wear Daily, and Aliza Licht, founder and president of Leave Your Mark LLC this panel was a fiesty and empowering talk about identity and making it in the industry. A key takeaway from this segment of the summit emphasized authenticity and hardwork. Licht commented that “Fashion is a very small industry. Your reputation does not follow you, it precedes you," drawing attention to the power of creating an identity.  She also cautioned that “there is no difference between professional and personal. Everything you do affects you professionally and personally.”

These were only a few of the great pieces of the day. The MFMS was so full of vibrancy, and I left the day feeling inspired by the dynamic guests' words of wisdom. Here are my top quotes from each section of the summit:


"You have to allow your platform to tell you what it’s going to become. Always leave room for change and always leave room for evolution."

- Sophia Macks

Keynote Speaker 1:

"You can’t just have an Instagram platform and think that will carry your business. You have to work across platforms."

- Jennifer Powell

Panel 1: The Empire State Of Mind: Commanding Retail’s Evolving Landscape

"It’s a marathon, not a sprint."

- Matthew Guthartz

Panel 2: The Art Of Storytelling: Personal Branding In The Digital Age

"One of the important things when embarking on this world is being honest with yourself."

- Aliza Licht

Panel 3: The Collaboration Era: From Building Brands To Curating Culture

"You have to be in charge of the casting of your life."

- Paul Rivera

Breakout 1:  The Insider Guide: Getting Past Fashion’s Front Door

"Coming to the table not just loving clothes and having great style but loving the industry."

- Ashley Sandall (CDFA)

Breakout 2: The Female Effect: Navigating Content And Commerce

"There is no one right path. You end up where you are supposed to end up. I think the agency experience is beyond anything you could ever have. It will invigorate and challenge you."

- Jodi Balkan

Keynote Speaker 2:

"If you stick with your instincts and you know what you want to do, things go really well."

- Lyle Barnes


Be sure to look out for the next year’s summit again in the spring. It’ll surely be another treat of fashion insight, experience, and connections!