The 2014 edition of Rock the Runway, an annual fund-raiser for Goodwill Industries of Central North Carolina, had a decidedly Spartan flair: Five of the seven designers tasked with making new fashions out of Goodwill donations had UNCG ties.

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Current UNCG students John Lin, Rachel Wilson, Ayanna Harrison, Nhi Tran joined alumnae Carrie Coyle as designers for the event, which was held Friday, Feb. 21, in downtown Greensboro. Tran won the contest.

The slate of designers were culled from about 30 applicants, said Deanna Holt Miller ’96, ’00, marketing specialist for Goodwill Industries of Central North Carolina. “We really were just looking who would be the best candidates: Who had a strong following, who had some unique designs they could bring to the table.”

Each designer was given $200 to purchase items from Triad Goodwill stores and $50 to cover any additional expenses. They added in dozens of hours envisioning and building their runway designs.

“It was pretty difficult working with clothing that was already made,” said Harrison, a UNCG junior. “A lot of the stuff I purchased was trial and error to see what outfits went together. It was very time consuming,  but it was well worth it.”

Wilson, a fellow designer and UNCG junior, agreed. “My first runway show was last year, but this one has been a lot different because I couldn’t anticipate what I was going to be making. I just wandered into the stores looking for a color palette. It just all came together in front of me. That was the biggest surprise.”

The number of UNCG designers chosen for the competition is a reflection of the students’ passion and preparedness for their chosen field, said Dr. Gwen O’Neal, chair of the Department of Consumer, Apparel and Retail Studies in the Bryan School of Business and Economics. ”

“They are being provided the kind of instruction in which they feel that they are competent to engage in these kinds of activities,” she said.

The experience also adds to the designers’ professional portfolios. “The fashion business is a very competitive business. You really don’t need a lot of designers for a company, so you better make a name for yourself,” O’Neal explained. “Students understand this, so they are building their portfolios to make themselves more marketable.”

Participants said the experience — and the exposure — have been valuable. “I’m opening my mind up to new things and experimenting with new things in the fashion world and really trying to put myself out there,” Harrison said. “I think it’s important to get started early on because it’ll be easier for you in the long run.”

Caption: 2014 Rock the Runway designers from L-R - April Morgan, Carrie Coyle, John Lin, Caroline Baxley, Rachel Wilson, Ayanna Harrison and Nhi Tran

Photos courtesy of Torey Searcy Photography for Triad Goodwill