(NEW YORK) – The Plumb Club’s “Shaping the Future” program grew by 43% this year, mentoring 13 students this past semester from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) jewelry department. The program, created by Michael O’Connor of The Plumb Club and Kim Nelson and Michael Coan of FIT, is a multi-pronged program that gives students first-hand insights into the jewelry industry.
“Shaping the Future” underscores The Plumb Club’s purpose statement by investing in FIT students who wish to make their careers in the industry. The program consists of partnering jewelry-focused students with industry mentors to provide insight and guidance, as well as the potential to gain practical experience, via internships, which can lead to future employment. It also helps raise the profile of emerging talent by giving students the opportunity to be highlighted in The Plumb Club Newsletter, which is sent out to over 15K qualified people in the industry.
The program also provides three of the top graduating jewelry students the opportunity to see the industry in action by attending the annual JCK Las Vegas Show – often their first major trade show. At JCK, the students meet with retailers and provide them with guided tours of the Jewelers Resource Center. They also meet with The Plumb Club’s manufacturer and supplier members assisting in the Club’s social media program. Further, they enjoy opportunities to network with the industry-at-large and source gems, components and other services, for their own work.
This year’s three lucky graduating students were Kimberlee John, Lane Markulics, and Luna Gwak, who each expressed how they benefitted from The Plumb Club’s “Shaping the Future” program.
“The Plumb Club has been an extraordinary resource during my time at the Fashion Institute of Technology and afterwards, as I have learned so much about this industry that I plan to enter,” said Kimberlee John. “My mentor was a huge part of this experience and helped shape my views of this industry and the overall world of jewelry. In addition, attending the JCK trade show in Las Vegas was an invaluable experience as it is the largest jewelry trade show in the country and it was incredible to connect and network with so many industry professionals.”
Lane Markulics adds: “The knowledge I gained through the Plumb Club mentorship will stay with me throughout my entire career. As a young student entering the industry, it was extremely comforting knowing someone was on my side and eager to provide me guidance. My mentor, Jordan Peck and the entire Brevani team welcomed me with open arms. They introduced me to so many aspects of the industry that allowed me to discover what path I wanted to take in my career. Knowing that I had successful industry leaders on my side instilled a great deal of confidence that allowed me to achieve my goals while at FIT and beyond. Attending the JCK show in Las Vegas with the Plumb Club was an amazing way to kick start my career post-graduation.”
Luna Gwak concurs with her fellow graduates. “As a student fresh out of FIT, it was such a valuable experience coming to JCK. Through the show, I was able to meet various people in the industry and see thousands of pieces by numerous brands. This experience enhanced my enthusiasm. I finally got the chance to meet my mentor, Monica McDaniel from Chatham, in person, since we had only been meeting via Zoom. She had given me great insights and valuable feedback on my portfolio.”
Since 2021, The Plumb Club’s “Shaping the Future” program has impacted 23 FIT students, providing mentorships, numerous internships, various job opportunities and has rewarded 8 students with a hands-on “JCK Experience”.
Kim Nelson, assistant chair of the jewelry design/fashion department at FIT, feels the program has made a huge impact. “It has been thrilling for me to witness the impact The Plumb Club is having on our students. These interactions have made a meaningful contribution to their educational experience, and the concepts and insights they have been exposed to have found their way into classroom conversations and the work these students produce; they have been given a window on the jewelry industry in action that will illuminate their careers for decades to come. I wish I had access to these amazing opportunities when I was studying in the Jewelry Design Program at FIT back in the early 90s, and I sincerely thank Michael O’Connor and the membership of The Plumb Club for making this commitment to the fresh minds and hands that will go on to build and shape the jewelry industry.”