All posts in Fashion Education


by Ada Onuegbe

United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) continues to partner with various New York City High Schools to host Career Day Programs. UCOF will be sharing information about fashion careers and business opportunities with students in grades through 9-12 at the following schools:

Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers

Annual Career Day

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 11:30-3pm

411 Pearl Street, New York City, NY 10038

UCOF Vice President of Fashion Education Michael Palladino worked with MBHS Principal Naima Cook to present the 2015 Fashion Career Exploration Day. Breakout sessions were presented by fashion industry insiders who shared their experiences with Murry Bergtraum students. Sessions included Styling, Fashion Magazines, the Business of Fashion and Event Planning to name a few. We are looking forward to returning to Murry Bergtraum and furthering student engagement.

Lower East Side Preparatory High School (LESP)

Annual Career Fair

Wednesday March 23rd, 2016 – 11:00 AM to 2:20PM.

145 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

UCOF participated in the school’s career event last year, presenting Personal Branding workshop. We are looking forward to returning for the 2016 Career Fair and developing our ongoing partnership with the school.

Flushing High School

“5th Annual Career Conference: Visualize Your Future”

Saturday, April 9, 2016 9:00 am – 1:30 pm

35-01 Union Street Flushing, NY 11354

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response by students at last year’s Career Conference, we are excited to be returning and speaking with Flushing High School students at this years Conference.

For any information on our Fashion Career Explorations Day, Fashion Education Seminar program, or general inquiries please contact Michael Palladino:

United Colors of Fashion Hosts Fashion Career Exploration Day

United Colors of Fashion Hosts Fashion Career Exploration Day at Murry Bergtraum High School by Ada Onuegbe


Sandi Bass, Jacqui Jenkins & Everick Brown

NEW YORK, NY  (October 7, 2015): United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) and the Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers (MBHS) partnered to host Fashion Career Exploration Day. The career day event was structured in a conference format. Students were led through a variety of sessions such as Styling, Event Planning and Fashion Show Production. UCOF ambassadors, industry professionals, administrators, and community leaders met personally with students at the after-program networking event.

“ ‘The High School for Business Careers’ seemed like the perfect choice,” Michael Palladino, Vice President of Fashion Education at UCOF, said of the decision to partner with MBHS. The high school is oriented towards preparing its students for business careers, offering courses in marketing, tourism, finance, human resources, information systems, economics, computer science, law, and clerical fields alongside the state standard curriculum. The career day event marked the expansion of course offerings at MBHS to incorporate Humanities-related business careers.

Fashion Career Exploration Day was well-received by both students and administrators.

Naima Cook, the new principal of MBHS as of August 2014, expects an even greater response to the rollout of the Fashion Education Seminar at the school this fall. “I know how important it is for our students to see people who look like them or have come from similar experiences achieve their dreams,” she said. “Career Day through UCOF has given our students a tangible and realistic lens on what it means to be in the Fashion industry. Students are able to connect the dots and understand why what they are doing in the math and English classes mater and how these experiences are setting them up for future success.”

Fashion Career Day Contributors and Organizers, from left: Murry Bergtraum Principal Naima Cook, Breezy Dotson, UCOF VP Fashion Education Michael Palladino, Rebecca Johnson, Sandi Bass, Jacqui Jenkins, Pamela Macklin, Coco Dotson, Everick “Rick” Brown and UCOF Founder and President Ciano Clerjuste. (Sarah Parlow was not available for the photo.)

Fashion Career Day Contributors and Organizers, from left: Murry Bergtraum Principal Naima Cook, Breezy Dotson, UCOF VP Fashion Education Michael Palladino, Rebecca Johnson, Sandi Bass, Jacqui Jenkins, Pamela Macklin, Coco Dotson, Everick “Rick” Brown and UCOF Founder and President Ciano Clerjuste. (Sarah Parlow was not available for the photo.)

The seminar “Fashion 360” will be hosted on Friday afternoons at the MBHS campus and taught by UCOF instructors. Both organizations are dedicated to providing a diverse educational experience and will integrate UCOF’s current students, who do not attend MBHS, into the seminar. “This is a great opportunity for MBHS to showcase their efforts in providing unique opportunities and to raise awareness for UCOF and our programs.”


MBHS Fashion Career Day Schedule Sessions & Presenters

Fashion Magazines : Pamela Macklin, Former Fashion Director, Essence Magazine

Fashion Accessories: Coco & Breezy Dotson, Coco & Breezy Eyewear

Event Planning: Rebecca Johnson, Celebrevents

Fashion Retail: Michael Palladino, UCOF VP of Education

The World of Modeling: SandiBass, Sandi Bass International

The Journey of the Entrepreneur: Jacqueline Jenkins, Director of Graduate Studies at LIM

Interior Design: Everick “Rick” Brown, Rick Brown Interiors

The Numbers Game: Sindy Sagastume,UCOF VP

Fashion Styling: Sarah Parlow, Freelance Stylist


About UCOF

United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) is a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to empower underserved NYC middle school and high school students through free fashion education. The program consists of strategic seminars that introduce students to the opportunities in fashion while stressing the importance of written and oral communication skills, mathematics and the value of collaboration. For more information about UCOF and the Fashion Education Seminar Program, please visit:

UCOF’S STAND seminar seals deal for hopeful achiever

BY: Jamil Khan

JOHANNESBURG – There is no instinct as strong as the inborn need we all have to find purpose. For some it is revealed in divine ways when they’re least expecting it, but for most it is only realized through hard work and experimentation. It is exactly this work and experimentation that led 20 year-old Fatoumata Diaby to her true love, fashion.




Having been diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia (a disease close to UCOF’s mission) as a child, her mother tried to keep her contained in order to prevent any complications with the condition. Fatoumata, however, had other ideas and was not willing to succumb to the condition. Her love for art saw her exposed to the art of dance, writing, designing, sewing, hairstyling and make-up. 

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Taking our hat off to Desiree Patton: UCOF’s aspiring achiever

BY: Jamil Khan

It is a well-known fact that in order to survive in the ever-changing, fast paced world of fashion one must be prepared to change color like a chameleon. Here at United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) we believe that even the most versatile artists need some practice honing their skills, which is why we have been focusing our energy on our STAND project. A mentorship program for young, but under resourced creatives in New York with dreams of breaking into the fashion and design industry. Each year, our program’s extensive training under the mentorship of the best in the business brings forth an Achiever of the Year. The current title is held by Sade Solomon, who has since managed to showcase her first collection and is well on her way to establishing her own brand.

Desiree Patton

Desiree Patton

If there’s someone who knows a few things about wearing multiple hats it’s Desiree Patton. She is an intern in the program but already heads up her own headgear design business called Desiree by Design. She designs and makes fascinators, hats and high fashion headbands and believes in service and purpose in business. It is this passion that has lead her to join the UCOF cause for the past two years. As diverse as her craft, she has a degree in Business Administration and is also pursuing a qualification in Image Consulting at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

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UCOF helps humble hopefuls realize big dreams

BY: Jamil Khan

The global creative fashion industry finds itself in a position of being one of the most influential, lucrative industries of our time. The enormity of the industry was however, built on the backs of eager young creatives who were willing to do anything to have piece of the pie, which would essentially bring them worldwide acclaim and satisfaction.

This may have been the case in the early days, but sadly today the chances of walking into an established fashion house or creative hub and offering your non-specific services will prove to be less than fruitful. Many young creative hopefuls in the field of fashion particularly find that doors are quickly closed in their faces.

For this reason, United Colors Of Fashion has taken New York youth aspiring to enter the industry under our wing and opened a few doors.

Rose-Ann Reynolds

Rose-Ann Reynolds

Rose-Anne Reynolds is one such aspiring creative, recently selected to be in the running to become UCOF’s next Achiever of the Year. She is a senior at Irvington High School and credits Photoshop with sparking her interest in Graphic Design. She has been selected out of numerous applicants, for her self-belief and burning passion to be a Graphic Designer.

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UCOF gives Fashion hopefuls a fighting chance

By Sibusiso Mkize

In a city that breeds the most influential giants in fashion from Alexander Wang to Michael Kors, one would expect New York to have no qualms in nurturing and putting the fashion aspirational youth into schools.

United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) has been unsurpassed in cultivating and moulding the lives of under-resourced youth in New York and New Jersey. Aria John, one of the new interns to the UCOF Fashion Education program is one of the reasons that gives uplifts the spirits of the organization.

Aria John

Aria John

Currently studying nursing at William Paterson University, Aria is one of many young people in New York that dreams of a career in fashion, however doesn’t have a clear direction in reaching their dreams. “Fashion is something that is a part of me; I just do not know where my niche is in the industry,” says Aria.

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Thank You for attending the 2013 Annual Gala

Thank you photo-Gala 2013
Dear Supporters,

On behalf of myself and the entire United Colors of Fashion team, we would like to thank each and every one of you for your unwavering support of our organization and our cause.

On October 9th, we held our annual gala at the historic Lexington Avenue Armory in
New York City and it successfully fulfilled what UCOF believes in — FAITH. HOPE.
FASHION. We remain faithful that our mission to empower youth through fashion will
launch the careers of our interns, while we provide hope for their futures and for our
children in Soweto, South Africa through the magical medium of fashion.

It was such a privilege to have Fern Mallis, fashion industry leader and the renowned
creator of New York Fashion Week, as the Honorary Chair for the event. Legendary
supermodel Pat Cleveland has made invaluable contributions to the worlds of fashion
and the arts, and was honored with the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms Cleveland was presented with the award by Bethann Hardison, and was accompanied onstage by supermodels of the 1980’s including Carla Hall, Coco Mitchell, Patricia Tracey, Jamie Foster, and Linda Morand, among several others.

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Sade Solomon: A relentless beacon of hope

BY: Jamil Khan

It is said that success requires 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration and that luck is simply the meeting place of opportunity and preparation. Whatever you choose to call it; the relentless efforts of United Colors Of Fashion (UCOF) to create opportunities for talented under-resourced youth can best be represented by our most industrious intern: Sade Solomon.

Sade Solomon in the studio in South Africa.

Sade Solomon in the studio in South Africa.

This South Bronx native and Pennsylvania State University human development and family studies graduate started her journey as a caseworker. Her true passion for fashion could not be suppressed and eventually led her to UCOF three years ago where she has since done amazing things including an all expenses paid trip to South Africa in March 2013 as part of UCOF’s third charity cycle. It was there that she also received necessary exposure to African interpretations of fashion. The trip was the perfect addition to Sade’s frame of reference as she returned to New York to create her own collection for debut at this year’s annual gala event.

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Sade Solomon: A champion of fashion philanthropy

BY: Jamil Khan

2013 FIT graduates, left to right, Camila Leta, Sade Solomon, Daphney Jules, Yeomin Chae and Crystal Dy

2013 FIT graduates, left to right, Camila Leta, Sade Solomon, Daphney Jules, Yeomin Chae and Crystal Dy

Sade Solomon, United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) Achiever of the Year for 2013 has once again dealt adversity a triumphant blow. She has graduated with a degree in fashion design from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) on Thursday evening. It is evident that she has no intention of resting on her laurels and she is clear that each achievement is only the foundation upon which she can build the next.

Since she started working with UCOF, this former caseworker, has grown into a visionary and a paragon of hope with aims of starting her own business through which she can use fashion and philanthropy to encourage the youth and empower them to fulfill their dreams and passions as she has done. UCOF is proud to be associated with Sade and has kept its promise of assisting her every step of the way to realize her dream of fashion philanthropy that so closely aligns to the mission of UCOF.

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BY: Jamil Khan

Our model, Bisi at Mapetla Day Care with us holding a child - Soweto, South Africa

Our model, Bisi at Mapetla Day Care with us holding a child – Soweto, South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – March 2013 realized the long awaited visit of United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) to South Africa. The annual charity trip, which lasted from March 6th – 13th, will be engraved in our minds and hearts forever.

The trip served as a dual-purpose visit, due to the coincidental merger of our Charity Care and Fashion Education programs, taking us to the humility of Soweto and the flamboyance of Joburg Fashion Week.

Sade working inside David's studio in South Africa.

Sade working inside David’s studio in South Africa.

Our Achiever of The Year, Sade Solomon, and our President, Ciano Clerjuste took all the wonderful work UCOF has done in the last year and presented it to South Africa in the true sense of Fashion For Humanity. Sade visited South Africa for the first time, where she underwent a rigorous training program under the guidance of David Tlale, Shaldon Kopman (Naked Ape) and Jan Malan (Umzingeli Productions). She was introduced first hand to the workings of the South African fashion industry, working backstage at the shows of prima designers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg. She also learned how to produce and market a fashion show under the guidance of world-renowned show producer Jan Malan.

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