In the Fashion Merchandising program, Justina Dambrauskaite has taken advantage of some rare and special opportunities to gain professional experience. Through her Advanced Show Production class, she joined the production staff of this year’s VCUarts fashion show “Runway 2017: LAUNCH,” held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, an experience that allowed her to see everything that goes into building a show from beginning to end. Dambrauskaite and her fellow seniors were in charge of multiple aspects of the show, from model selection and training to backstage operations. They also worked together to organize a variety of public and private events leading up to “LAUNCH.”
Dambrauskaite was also able to take design courses in the VCUarts Fashion department. “I’m so glad I did because I learned a lot about garment making and construction, and I know the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired will benefit me greatly in my future career.” She was even a costumer on the set of Macbeth Unhinged, a film by Angus Macfadyen (Braveheart, TURN) shot by Cinema students in 2014 and 2015. As a freshman, she was in charge of dressing the actors and caring for their costumes on- and off-screen.
An accomplished Fashion Merchandising senior with a bright future ahead, Dambrauskaite initially wasn’t sure if Richmond was where she wanted to study. However, a meeting with Associate Professor of Fashion Merchandising Donna Reamy drew her into the program at VCUarts. “Hearing fashion students talk about how much they love the merchandising program,” she says, “I was convinced fashion was the right fit for me. Now I can’t even imagine studying anything else.”
In January, Dambrauskaite was one of 10 students to win a $5,000 award from the Young Men’s Association Fashion Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit that encourages talented, creative young people to pursue fashion careers. “I remember feeling a sense of great achievement,” she says. “I strongly believe that the YMA FSF scholarship opened so many doors for my future in the fashion industry.” Indeed, at the 2017 YMA FSF Awards Gala in New York, she met a recruiter from Original Penguin who invited her to take a 10-week internship with the company. She spent the summer as a sales and planning intern with the company in New York City.
Dambrauskaite has had her sights on becoming a buyer in the fashion industry ever since she took the “Buying Simulation” class with Assistant Professor Deidra Arrington. However, after she graduates, she says, “I am open to exploring different areas of the industry and learning as much as I can.” She hopes to stay in Richmond and explore her career opportunities in the city before heading to Los Angeles or New York.