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Clerjuste Ciano, Founder, Chairman and President of United Colors Of Fashion.
Ciano Clerjuste, to those who speak it, is a name synonymous with compassion, determination and resilience. As a founding member of one of the most unique non-profit organizations in the world, United Colors Of Fashion (UCOF Academy), he has managed to turn his love for people and especially young people into an impactful movement. It is a movement, which has touched the lives of so many, in the USA and abroad.
UCOF Academy is an organization, which was birthed while Clerjuste was a hopeful fashion design student faced with a difficult decision. An accident, which left his mother paralyzed, required him to become the head of his family – a responsibility which became less negotiable after his father’s untimely death shortly thereafter.
He went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management, but never lost sight of his passion for art and fashion. It is this passion that prompted him to recognize the need for a program that gives aspiring fashion designers in New York and New Jersey a chance to gain access to the industry, which usually denies them the chance.
UCOF was founded in 2010 for under-resourced fashion hopefuls in the Tri-State area to get free fashion education and also to expose them to key players in the industry. UCOF Academy is the only program of its kind and through Ciano’s extensive work in the industry- it is supported by a network of donors, celebrities, and investors. To date UCOF Academy has changed the lives and nurtured the dreams of over 350 aspiring fashion professionals from the Tri-State area.
His charm and determination is what has made icons like Fern Mallis ( creator of New York Fashion Week), Pat Cleveland, Nigel Barker, Sandi Bass, and Dionne Warwick, and many others attach themselves to the cause of UCOF. His business mind has also facilitated sponsorships and partnerships with premium brands such as IMG Fashion, South African Airways, Wines of South Africa, Wilhemina Models, Christo Fifth Avenue, and New York Models to mention a few. He has facilitated access for his students to top designers including Carmen Marc Volvo (USA), Marc Bouwer (South Africa/USA), Ron & Ron (Haiti/USA), Amparo Chorda (Spain), David Tlale (South Africa), Kosibah (United Kingdon), Style Butler (Denmark), Louda Larain (Russia), Malan Breton (USA/Taiwan), Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (Spain) and the list goes on.
By day he works as a senior Account Executive for Principal Financial Group – a Retirement and Global Asset company and dedicates in excess of 30 hours a week to nurturing the dreams of New York youth who want to make careers in fashion. He is also a freelance event planner. Through one of his many talents he has been professionally trained in dance, music and acting at Une Ecole Nouvelle de Danse, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Newark School of the Arts, New York Conservatory of Dance and WYACT/NJPAC Summer Musical production through which he has garnered 18 years of experience on stage. In addition to his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management, he holds certificate degrees in nursing, theatre, dance, and fashion.
Even though his journey has been marred by the harshness of reality, Ciano has managed to circumvent bitterness and bestow benevolence on those who are where he once was. As he does, UCOF invests in dreams and now in its fifth year in 2015 the returns have been wholly fulfilling – a vision that Clerjuste aims to expand in coming seasons.