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Next level designs

May 5, 2023

From Montreal to Phoenix to New York, student lands opportunities in a fashion powerhouse

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the summer 2023 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Heidi Stierli knew from a young age that she wanted to create striking outfits that last, so she did her research on fashion programs around the country. She eventually chose to attend ASU.   

Because of the reputation of the program, Stierli, ’23 BA fashion, from Montreal, Canada, selected the university over renowned schools in San Francisco.

“With fashion, my dream is to go into the vintage world, working with famous vintage collectors, putting on events showcasing these treasures,” she says. In addition, “I love painting pottery and canvases in my free time, and also upcycling clothing, thrift shopping and vintage clothing.”

Her biggest passion is ensuring that the clothing she makes lasts, that it can work from season to season and accentuate a wardrobe for years. And she says that ASU has helped her pave her career in this competitive field.

Fashion student stands next to a model wearing her design

A component of the ASU fashion program and a key differentiator, Stierli says, is teaching students to work with Optitex, an end-to-end fashion design software including 2D CAD/CAM pattern design and 3D prototyping.

She was a student-worker in the fashion program from January 2022 until her graduation and credits her mentorship of students with helping her take her designs to an entirely new level. “I work with students helping them solve the problems they encounter in their designs. ASU students are a bunch of amazing, creative, innovative artists,” she says.

One of her biggest opportunities came through an alumna of the program. Claire Cohan, ’21 BA in fashion, helped Stierli land an internship in New York City at the American Dream Team Network International. The fashion powerhouse does licensing of designs, garment production and sends its imports around the world. Stierli says that this internship will open up numerous opportunities in her career.

And, she gets to live and work in New York City, an international fashion center.

Models walking down a runway

Heidi Stierli shows off her clothing designs at a fashion show.

“I don’t think I would have been ready for New York City without ASU’s fashion program,” she says. “It provided me with confidence and a robust skill set.”

She adds, “The fashion program at ASU is so strong because of the professors and faculty, such as Victoria Cook, a role model in pattern making for me, and Irina Tevzadze, who helped me learn what it will be like in the industry.” 

Cook, the lead pattern maker, and instructor of Design I and II, has owned her own pattern making business for more than a decade. Tevzadze, a clinical assistant professor, created and internationally showcased numerous collections of womenswear, childrenswear and accessories, and designed collections for high-profile European fashion houses. 

RELATED: ASU expands fashion program, embraces legacy of Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

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Give your savings a boost

May 5, 2023

5 tips to keep in mind post-college

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the summer 2023 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Written by Liz Stephens, ’16 BA, ’22 EMPA. Stephens, the content strategist at Desert Financial Credit Union, oversees the development of all external content to help people understand complex financial concepts. She is passionate about the community, empowering people of all ages to make informed decisions and increase their financial literacy and wellness.

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Liz Stephens

It might seem daunting after college to start saving money, but doing so will help you build wealth, thanks to the power of compound interest, and allow you to better forecast your future. Here are five easy-to-follow money-saving tips to help you get to financial security.

1. Create a budget.

To create a budget, first, find out what your actual income is after taxes. Search for an online calculator to help you.

Then, subtract your total living expenses from your true income. The typical percentage-based budget recommendation is 50/30/20 for needs, wants and savings, but with rising housing costs, consider other budgets like 70/20/10 and 80/20. 

With every paycheck you receive, pay your savings first. The easiest way to do this is via direct deposit or automatic savings. 

Every month, take a moment to track and categorize your expenses. You can use a budgeting app or download a template to help you track costs all in one place and identify spending patterns.

2. Cut unnecessary expenses.

If you are looking for more ways to save, examine your spending patterns to see where you can reduce. If you eat out a lot, try cooking at home more. If you have multiple recurring subscriptions, eliminate those least used. 

Lastly, ask yourself these questions before taking the plunge and making a purchase:

How often will I use this in the next six months to a year?

Do I want this item, or do I need it?

Making changes to your spending can add up and help you save for your future.

3. Save for emergencies.

Situations like a car repair or a medical bill can wreak havoc on your finances. Set aside monthly money into an emergency fund to avoid debt if an expense pops up.

Depending on your situation, three to six months of living expenses are ideal, but at minimum, aim to save at least $1,000 for an emergency in a high-yield savings account. Putting money aside for emergencies can provide you peace of mind and reduce financial stress.

4. Manage debt.

You might have heard of “good” and “bad” debt. Try to avoid high-interest debt by paying off your credit cards in full each month by the due date. 

If you have existing debt, identify areas where you can reduce spending to allocate more money toward paying off the debt. A popular strategy like the snowball — paying off the smallest loans first quickly — is also used to pay down debt. 

If you have multiple high-interest debts, consider consolidating for a better interest rate. Debt can be overwhelming and complicated, but do not worry. Ask to speak to someone at your financial institution to get started.

5. Invest in your future.

Different ways exist to begin investing, from real estate to individual stocks to bonds. If you are just starting your career, prioritize your 401(k) or IRA to start taking advantage of compound interest.

In simple terms, compound interest means that you earn interest not only on your initial investment but also on the interest your investment earns over time. Because of this,
putting even a tiny amount of money away every month as early as possible in your career can make a big difference in your bottom line. Additionally, find out if your organization participates in 401(k) matching to help boost your retirement savings. It’s free money.

Before you start investing, research or consult with a financial advisor to ensure you’re making smart investment decisions.

You can use many strategies to save money and build your savings over time. By following these tips, you’re setting yourself up for financial success. Remember, saving money is a journey; small steps can create significant results.

Learn to manage your money effectively

Visit Desert Financial Credit Union online for educational content to increase financial wellness at