High school students turn the Goodwill store into a Fiesta-themed fashion show

A Goodwill store in the far west was transformed this week by high school students showcasing their work as fashion designers – design that lasts, as brightly colored outfits were selected and modified from donated clothes found there.

The Fiesta-themed fashion show on Wednesday night saw 20 student models parade down the catwalk to the sound of DJ Chillout Sensation’s “Angel on the Catwalk,” walking through a crowd of around 100 parents, community members and a few savings-minded customers who happened to wander.

The seniors behind the show are part of Stevens High School’s Entrepreneurship and Fashion program. They learn about marketing, display design, customer service, and curating fashion because they not only dream of working in fashion, but also of owning a fashion-related business.

The class volunteers twice a week at the Goodwill store on Potranco Road.

“Fashion is a way to express yourself,” said Che’ron Brown, a senior at Stevens in the Northside Independent School District. “I have a twin and when I was younger everyone always saw us as ‘the twins’, they never saw me as an individual, I felt like when I had my outfit or that we had different outfits, people finally saw me as me.”

When Brown joined the class, she never saw herself owning a retail store, but it was “kind of an eye opener for me,” she said.

At Goodwill each week, students find outfits for the models, design the tips, greet customers and learn how Goodwill is run as a business.

“I gained a new understanding of how to deal with customer service people,” said Jessyka Ruiz, a senior who hopes to one day own a personal styling business. “It kind of opened up my social skills because before this class I was very shy and now I’m learning in this class to come out of my shell.”

Jaznett Lopez, a senior in the program who aspires to become an interior designer, was very enthusiastic about an outfit she designed featuring an embroidered green dress and white pants.

“I feel like (the outfit) is kind of about my culture,” Lopez said. “I am Hispanic. My little sister wanted to be a mariachi, so (this outfit) kinda reminds me of the good old days and I wanted to make that happen.

The most rewarding part for Lopez happened after the fashion show: when customers got a chance to buy the look she created.

“To see customers say, ‘Oh, I want this one,’ and then quickly grab it and it’s gone,” Lopez said. “It’s a very good feeling.”

It’s not lost on them that students can ply their trade using the “excessive amount of clothing in our world” available in their Goodwill neighborhood rather than new clothes, said Northside ISD Fashion Instructor Christine Donovan.

Many students have “a passion for sustainability” and more are shopping at thrift stores, she said.

“It shows that you don’t need high-end clothes to have great outfits and be able to express yourself,” Brown said.

The Goodwill store sells items dating back to the 1950s, says Agosto Cuellar, Goodwill’s customer experience manager and local sustainable fashion designer who has worked with Stevens High School’s fashion program for about five years.

“Because of this, (Goodwill is) able to appeal to a different clientele, which shows students that there is vitality in retail,” Cuellar said.

Stevens High School Principal Ryan Purtell sat in the audience encouraging some of his students who don’t usually get the opportunity to exhibit their work.

Victoria Garcia attends the Fiesta Sustainable Fashion Show at the Goodwill store on Potranco Road.  Stevens High School students design their own clothes and volunteer at a Goodwill store to learn about retail.  .  (Kaylee Greenlee Beal/Contributor)

Victoria Garcia attends the Fiesta Sustainable Fashion Show at the Goodwill store on Potranco Road. Stevens High School students design their own clothes and volunteer at a Goodwill store to learn about retail. . (Kaylee Greenlee Beal/Contributor)

Kaylee C. Greenlee Beal /

“There’s a lot of things our kids do that naturally lend themselves to (being exhibited): fine art, athletics, it’s really easy to come together and clap together,” Purtell said. “But there are a lot of really cool things kids do (that) it’s hard to create a place like this to celebrate them.”

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