TEXT: HEATHER NOEL
PHOTOGRAPHY: AHNA HUBNIK
What I Love About My Job
The College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism is a special place with world-class faculty, caring and supportive staff and students who are prepared to enter the customer-centric industries. The Dallas-Fort Worth area offers a rich environment of many headquarters for hospitality and retail companies offering exciting opportunities for our students as they participate in study trips, seek internships and land fabulous careers. I love all of it!
I was named Distinguished Scholar for the International Textile and Apparel Association. In my acceptance speech, I spoke about the power of ethical courage. A quote from that speech that I like is: Ethical courage is doing what is right — for our economy, our environment and our people.
Trends in Research
When I published my first textile recycling article in 1999, I had to dig deep to discover the nuances of what was mostly a “hidden” industry. Today, recycling companies are doing exciting things far beyond exporting used clothing to low-income countries. New products and practices are being developed in hopes of making the industry more sustainable. Examples include used clothing being made into housing insulation, incentives to reduce the fashion life cycle, new business models such as garment subscriptions and rental and increased efficiency and quality in apparel manufacturing. Even though progress has been made, the textile and apparel industry still remains fraught with challenges. Thankfully, many scholars are working with the industry to find solutions.
What Inspires Me
I am inspired by junior faculty and students
who see the need for continual improvement of sustainability as we address issues in the industry. I am particularly inspired when faculty and students work together on research initiatives. As students get more involved with research, it fortifies my outlook for our future. I hope that one day our industries reach a zero-carbon footprint.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched our new Leadership Academy focusing on the three pillars of Learn, Lead and Connect. Each year, more and more students are enrolling to earn the new leadership certificate and recruiters are taking notice on how well-prepared these students are for professional careers in retail and hospitality.
My newest research focuses on folk artisans from villages throughout the world. I have been a volunteer at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for 12 years. As a qualitative researcher, that time has allowed me to deeply understand the pathways artisans take from villages to the global marketplace. Back on campus, I have become known as the “Scarf Lady” because I wear one of the artisans’ handcrafted scarves nearly every day. Each scarf is a treasure to me.