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Interior Design Industry Insight | NeoCon 2022

As strong proponents of a real-world education, we at Siba very much believe that some of the most impactful lessons can be learned beyond the classroom. One opportunity that we give our interior design students every year is the option of traveling to Chicago, IL to attend NeoCon, a huge industry centered around commercial design.

Every summer, Siba students have the choice to make the trip with their department head and classmates to learn first-hand about everything new and cutting-edge when it comes to designing workplace, healthcare, hospitality, retail, education, public space and government spaces.

Janelle Schrumpf, Siba’s Department Chair of Interior Design, led her 16th group of students to Chicago earlier this summer for NeoCon 2022.

This year’s notable trends included the use of lots of texture, natural plant-based décor, and the return of robust color palettes.

“We’ve come from a very clean, monochromatic look during this gray and white period, and now we’re seeing more vibrant colors and patterns. The wider selections give students and designers a chance to expand their creativity using color, texture and pattern to create spaces that reflect a completely new aesthetic.”

Attending Neocon goes beyond being the first to see emerging trends—students also get to network with industry professionals and hear about the practical applications of the newest design materials by attending product demos and presentations by the product and manufacturing reps themselves.

“This time, students met with a rep for high-end porcelain tiles who explained and demonstrated just how important prep is before installation. If a floor isn’t completely level, the product won’t sit correctly. Hearing this from him will no doubt reinforce what they’ve already learned in the classroom, and I think they will remember it when they’re meeting with their future clients and coordinating with contractors.”

Another benefit of the trip: exposing students to high-end luxury finishes that they may not have seen from vendors in their hometowns. Schrumpf explains, “You can’t fully appreciate the quality of these finishes on the Internet. When you go to NeoCon and you get into those showrooms, you can understand the products in a very tactile, 3-dimensional way.”

Among the unique experiences our students had at this year’s tradeshow was a visit to the Dirtt show space. Dirtt, a global innovator when it comes to industrialized construction and interior design, wows participants with its use of virtual reality to display and manipulate design spaces. It’s a favorite stop each year for Siba students.

The ultimate purpose of all of our field trips (locally and out-of-town) is to expand our students’ understanding of the possibilities and opportunities that await them in their new field, and to expose them to the many pathways they can take within their profession that they may have otherwise not known existed.

As Schrumpf emphasizes, “There are thousands of sources and careers in the interior design world.  Attending Neocon enables students to imagine themselves working in and with a large variety of them, and it gives them confidence that they will have the tools and knowledge to be great resources for their future clients and employers.”

One thing that never changes about Neocon…there will always be new and innovative products to learn about next year! And we have no doubt that Janelle Schrumpf will be cheerfully leading the next group of Siba interior design majors to Chicago in 2023.

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Siba | 75 years | Alumni stories

Stevens - The Institute of Business & Arts is proud to be celebrating 75 years of serving the St. Louis Metropolitan Area this year. We got our start in 1947 as Patricia Stevens College - a modeling and finishing school for women. Over the years, we've evolved; adding degree programs, transitioning to a co-educational student body, and updating our course catalog to remain competitive with the needs of employers in the region.

To commemorate this milestone, we're looking back and sharing the stories of alumni who have made us who we are today. We start with Merna Tucker-Davis who attended soon after Patricia Stevens opened it's doors in St. Louis.

What year(s) did you attend Patricia Stevens?

I attended Patricia Stevens in 1955 while I was still a junior at Granite City High School. It was known then as a finishing school for young women, especially for those interested in becoming a model.  My mother believed it would help build my confidence and grace so a friend and I traveled on the streetcar from Granite City to downtown St. Louis for after-school classes.

What was the nature of your classes? 

The curriculum was a combination of modeling techniques, ways to maximize personal appearance, and teaching us how to be poised and “ladylike.”  I particularly remember getting my eyebrows tweezed for the very first time and that getting noticed right away. As I entered the school cafeteria the next day, some boys yelled, “Look she plucked her eyebrows!”  While embarrassing in the moment, it was definitely a positive improvement and became a permanent part of my beauty regimen! 

Another memorable lesson was being told to always wear a girdle so that my derrière could not move, especially while going up and down the stairs! Boy how times have changed on that issue….

What lesson did you value most?

That taking the time to present myself in my most attractive, poised manner is worth the effort. Being poised gave me the self-confidence to put myself out there and try new things throughout my entire life.

Describe your education, accomplishments, and career after Patricia Stevens.

As I finished high school, I was able to apply the lessons and techniques I learned at Patricia Stevens on several occasions. In February 1956, when I was a senior, I was honored to be crowned the Queen of the St. Louis Area Junior Achievement at the annual Coronation Ball held at the Arena and attended by 3,000 Junior Achievers. 

I also had the confidence to enter (and win) the Miss Granite City pageant in 1956, and later that year went on to participate in the Miss Illinois Pageant (I didn’t win, but it was a wonderful experience!).

After high school, I attended the University of Illinois and graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Years later, I earned my Master’s degree in Human Relations at University of Oklahoma while I was teaching. 

My 38-year career in education included many years of classroom teaching, but when I retired I was Director of the Gifted Program for the Granite City School District. At age 55, I entered the next phase of my life by starting my own interior design firm, INTERPRETATIONS, LLC, and worked on many residential and commercial projects in the bi-state region over the next 25+ years.

Although I’ve chosen to semi-retire from my second career, I stay active by continuing to provide consultations to former clients and I flex my creativity 4-5 times per year by designing and creating the seasonal floral and holiday installations on Siba’s Washington Avenue campus.

What advice would you offer current Siba students?

Surround yourself with professionals in the field of your choice. Continue to build your confidence and passion through continued knowledge and honorable hard work. Go to bed each night knowing you have utmost integrity as you are making the world a better place.

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Summer at Siba

Siba downtown St. Louis

Get a head start on your college journey with our term starting on May 23rd! Set your intention this summer with the help of Siba's nurturing classrooms, 9-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, and career-focused studies. Siba is where the art of business meets the business of art. Our programs include Business Administration, Graphic Design, Interior Design, and Fashion Development & Merchandising.

We're enrolling now for day and evening classes for our Bachelor's and Associate of Applied Science degrees. Contact a member of our Admissions team to get started or book your visit online. We can't wait to meet you!


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The Fashion Connector

Standing out and evolution are two mainstays of the fashion industry. Both seem to come naturally to Siba alumna, AK Brown. The 2014 graduate of Siba’s Retail Management/Fashion Merchandising program (now called Fashion Development & Merchandising) has built a business on how to develop, transform, and thrive in the fashion world. Now, she’s using her expertise to create a platform for black fashion professionals to collaborate and grow through Black in St. Louis Fashion.

As founder and President of Black in St. Louis Fashion, AK aims to bring much-needed visibility to members of the black fashion community, as well as provide a place where members can network. The group’s social media  features profiles of movers and shakers in the fashion community, and the group hosts periodic social events. This year, they’re focused on expanding their grant program and they are working toward launching a fully-developed business accelerator within the next 1-2 years.  

To commemorate their work, Black in St. Louis Fashion, now in its second year, commissioned a new editorial inspired by last year’s success, “I started the original editorial [in 2021] because there was and still is a lack of visibility for Black fashion creatives and professionals in St. Louis, and I'm a big proponent of ‘If you're going to complain about something, be in a position to change it.’ So I did.”

Black in St. Louis editorial

That initiative is a common thread in everything AK does – including building her business. Creating an enterprise out of her unique blend of interests and expertise, AK helps individuals in the fashion industry flourish as “The Fashion Connector.” “The goal with my platform is to share my knowledge on a variety of topics including blogging/influencing, product development, fashion public relations, branding, and styling, while also giving space to other creatives who have authority in our industry as well. I have my own stylist & fashion academy where I teach students how to start a successful styling career from start to finish, and the basics of product development.”

fashion development

Since entering into the workforce – as a business owner and an employee, AK has arrived at what she considers a perfect balance in her professional life. “You don't have to solely work for yourself to have your own business. Even as an entrepreneur, I am still working on myself as a professional and making the transition into tech, so I can have a steady and comfortable income while investing that money into my business.”

For Siba students looking to work for themselves - whether it be fashion promotion, fashion marketing, visual merchandising, or designing, AK suggests getting a solid understanding of some business practices as well. “For those who want to become a fashion entrepreneur, a solid business foundation is just as important as creativity. A lot of [designers] may feel like their designs are so good, that they're going to become instant sensations overnight, and that's rarely (if ever) the case. I recommend taking some basic business courses or to invest in a business mentor to build an enterprise that will survive.”

fashion merchandiser

For this woman of many talents, there’s always a project on the horizon. In addition to her work as The Fashion Connector, AK has a quarterly magazine set to launch in the Spring of 2022. This year she also wants to continue expanding her brand and booking speaking engagements. Always with an eye on what’s next, the future looks bright for AK. Her commitment to the fashion industry and her hometown of St. Louis is something to appreciate and emulate. “I plan to really get back out there and promote all the things I love in fashion - great personal style, community, fashion connections, and promoting St. Louis in the process.” We are extremely proud of AK and applaud all of her endeavors!

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Make 2022 All About You! Enrolling now!

Students working with a model at Siba

The New Year is about new starts and fresh outlooks.  Join us for the term beginning January 3rd and beyond.

Our nurturing classrooms, engaged instructors, and hands-on experiences will help define your path to a career you love. Contact one of our Admissions Representatives today, set up your tour, or give us a call to get started. We can’t wait to meet you!!!


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Student Showcases Ability & Creates Connections in Nation’s Capital

Amani

When opportunity knocks, Amani Miller answers! During her very first year as a Siba interior design student, Miller has embraced multiple opportunities to expand her knowledge and contacts in the St. Louis regional design community: 1) she participated in an internship at KDR Designer Showrooms where she mastered the management of their extensive textiles library; and 2) she stepped up to assume the role of President of Siba’s American Society of Interior Designer (ASID) student organization.

Most recently, Miller has added the title of Student Representative for ASID Missouri East to her list of achievements - representing the student component of the organization for the entire region. The new role earned her the invitation to travel to Washington, DC, to attend ASID’s annual student summit known as SCALE. Miller was thrilled to meet other interior design students from across the country and share information about their different classes, projects and goals.

“It was good to see what other students from all over the nation were doing – see what they were learning, as well as what kind of challenges they were facing. I gained friendships, professional contacts, and grew my base of experience.”

In addition to getting to know her peers, Miller networked with interior design professionals already in the field and made connections with designers in cities across the U.S. She hopes to renew and further these relationships when she and her Siba classmates next visit Chicago for NeoCon, the annual tradeshow for Interior Designers.

The D.C. summit also featured influential speakers that broadened Miller’s perspective on the role of design to improve and enhance the sense of community. She was particularly impressed by a presentation from Kia Weatherspoon, President of DC-based Determined by Design.

“Kia’s company advocates for equity in access to design. Their mission states that architects and designers can create with empathy and develop thoughtful concepts to unite communities. Their efforts to eliminate the labels of “affordable,” “high-end,” “black,” and “white” and level the playing field really resonated with me.”

In addition to making influential contacts in her the interior design field, Miller also received valuable feedback on how to build an outstanding portfolio and practical advice on how to achieve a healthy work/school/life balance. (Miller is a mother and wife, too!).

“My favorite part of the trip were the memories I created with other members of the committee. I developed diverse friendships and mentorships that I will cherish. The walks, scooter rides, and Ubers we shared while talking about how we chose interior design as a career are times I won’t forget.”

Amani at Lincoln Memorial

Miller’s role as student rep for ASID Missouri East isn’t all travel, though! Her responsibilities back home include serving as a mentor to other aspiring interior designers, networking with established professionals, and achieving growth within the ASID community. She looks forward to getting to know other students in the region, and collaborating on ideas on how to make the field of interior design work in both traditional and new career pathways.

You can connect with Amani Miller on her social media via LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.


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Grad Stories: Jack Petee

Jack Petee

Grad Stories

Jack Petee arrived at Siba ready to soak up all the college had to offer. When he graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration last year, he left a lasting impression on his fellow students as well as faculty and staff. Jack’s leadership, desire to be involved, and unwavering positive attitude (more than evident in his responses below) are attributes that made him a standout on campus. Add to the list that Jack graduated at the top of his class in the midst of a global pandemic, and it’s no surprise we want to see what he’s accomplished in the short time since entering the professional world! We recently caught up with the alum to reflect on his experiences as a Siba student and to see what he’s been up to since graduation.

How did you initially find Siba? What appealed to you about the school?

When I was looking at colleges and programs, I knew that the traditional four-year university wasn’t the best option for my style of learning. I wanted something more intimate, personal, and preferably accelerated. I toured some community colleges before eventually heading to the internet to find local programs. Siba popped up and I liked the website enough that I decided to tour. Within one minute of walking in the lobby and feeling the “vibe,” I knew I wanted to attend.

What were some of your favorite classes or projects at Siba?

My favorite classes at Siba were the ones that directly related to real-life activities. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes like Business Communications and Professional Protocol where the main intention is teaching you to be a strong presence in the workplace in terms of how you speak, both in-person and email, and how to behave in certain situations. 

Any fond memories you’d like to share?

My favorite memories of attending Siba are the interactions that I had in the Commons. Being a smaller school, you’ll quickly recognize everyone’s faces and learn their names. I loved being Student Government President and getting the opportunity to plan events and fundraisers that helped facilitate the warm environment of the school.

You’re working at TD Ameritrade now. How did you find your job? What was the interview and onboarding process like?

I was actively hunting for any jobs that looked interesting to me on both Indeed and LinkedIn. Eventually, I found the TD Ameritrade job on Indeed and promptly applied. There was an initial phone screening in which I was asked to talk through my resume, and then explained the core duties of the job. After being deemed a good candidate I was then invited to do a video interview. I was very grateful that I had the interview prep class at Siba online as it made me a lot more confident in the digital aspect of interviewing.

Quote Jack Petee Business Administration

Do you feel your degree at Siba helped you prepare you for your position?

Yes. The beauty of the Business Administration degree is that you get a base level understanding of a wide variety of industries. When attending Siba, I was almost certain I would work in Project Management or Real Estate, but I’ve now ended up in Finance and I’m loving it. Having the intro to each industry was beneficial as I had an idea what the job would involve while interviewing with different companies.

Any tips for other Siba Business students looking to work for a company like this?

At some point you will be asked to list five strengths of yours. Knowing your strengths not only gives them an idea of who you are, but also gives you confidence going into interviews. A helpful hint I learned is that your strengths don’t have to be measurable skills. My top two are Relatedness and Enthusiasm which are attractive qualities for any people-related-role.

You recently graduated. What advice would you give to students just starting in the program?

I coined the phrase “passing is a team sport” while in classes as I truly believe it’s the best mindset. Everyone in the building wants you to succeed, so if you’re ever struggling, reach out to your teachers and classmates. No one wants you to fail.

What makes you proud?

There is a photograph of me sprawled out on the floor outside of the computer lab stressing about finals. Looking back, I would say I’m proud that all of the hard work paid off as I am quite pleased with the life I am living and the opportunities I am discovering. That being said, if you ever find yourself on the floor outside the computer lab… take a deep breath, look at that list you made of your strengths/things you like about yourself, remind yourself you’re amazing, and carry on. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it!

Great advice from a student who’s been there! While Jack would love to one day get involved in politics or higher education, for the moment he’s motivated to prove himself in his new position at TD Ameritrade. Always happy to connect with new and former students, Jack can be reached on LinkedIn or on his Instagram @thejackryan01.

Siba Student Government members meeting


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Join Us for Our October Term

Students visiting in common area

It's not too late to get started on your educational journey in 2021. Learn about Siba's nurturing classrooms, commitment to hands-on education, and accelerated degree options by reaching out to our Admissions team today. Classes start on October 11th for the Fall 2 term. We can't wait to hear from you!


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Finding A Path in the World of Fashion

Student taking a selfie

With so many paths to choose from after graduation, we love seeing how graduates leverage their Fashion Development & Merchandising degrees when seeking their first “real job.” For alumna Danielle Calcara, her path led to a global fashion design and manufacturing company headquartered right here in St. Louis, Stars Design Group.

Stars partners with Siba to empower students with hands-on internships and other opportunities to explore the fashion industry. An internship is exactly what helped Calcara get her foot in the door: “I reached out to my awesome mentor and fashion department head, Lynne Wasson, and told her that I would love the opportunity to work at Stars. She reached out to Stars and shared my resume. I went through two interviews and started as an intern before being offered a permanent position as merchandiser.”

In her role as fashion merchandiser, Calcara acts as a liaison between product development, the art department, the factory, and her clients. “I love that I get to work with a vast array of textiles and the newest fabric developments on the market. And the amount of industry experience among my bosses and coworkers is amazing; I feel very blessed to work at a company with so much talent, intelligence, and experience in the industry.”

Student s and Professor at Siba

Although she continues to learn something new every day at Stars, Calcara also credits her time at Siba for helping to prepare her for the position. One area of study that turned out to be surprisingly instructive was learning all of the terminology used in the fashion industry. “It seems like something so small, but it really is its own language which anyone working in the industry should know how to speak fluently.”

Calcara’s path to a dream career was not a straight one. After spending 10 years working in a different field, she took a leap of faith when she enrolled in Siba’s fashion program. “Going back to college at the age of 27, then becoming employed at Stars Design Group—these are achievements that I am very proud of and prove that no matter how old you are, if you have passion and dedication, anything is possible!”

Other accomplishments that Calcara is proud of: graduating with a 4.0 GPA while becoming a first-time mom to her daughter. We at Siba know that list of accomplishments is likely to grow as Calcara continues to make her mark on the fashion industry here in St. Louis or perhaps…New York? “Maybe one day—I never say never!”

 

Student graduation


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Becoming an Interior Designer

Woman in front of green door

By 2020 graduate, Kirsi Cushing

What was I doing? Was this an actual possibility, or a spur of the moment decision brought on by my frustration? Honestly, it was probably a little bit of both, but something felt right about it all, like this is where I needed to go, this was what I needed to do to find out once and for all, what I was meant to do with this creativity running through me.

When I stepped inside Stevens Institute for the first time, I felt a sense of belonging flood over me. It felt like a place that wanted it’s students not only to work hard and learn material, but thrive as they refined their skills. I felt all the more inspired as the tour continued on, and by its end, there was something deep down within me that knew, this was where I needed to be.

The rest is history. The next three years proved to be some of the most challenging, and yet most incredibly purposeful years of my life. I was brought to my breaking point, faced difficulties and curveballs I was not anticipating, but with each one, I became stronger and more certain that I was no longer an artist without a niche, but a designer with the goal of creating livable artwork through the medium of interior spaces.

I would not trade my experience at Stevens Institute for anything, because it gave me a sturdy foundation, reinforced by the challenges I faced along the way, and now, it is more than ready to be built upon as I journey into the mysterious post-grad years before me. It took a wrong turn, a leap of faith, and a 3 year journey at a college that allowed me to thrive and grow, but now I know, without a doubt in my mind, I am meant to be in this field, I am an Interior Designer.


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2021: Here we come!

With five start dates in 2021, you can pick the best time to get started with a degree program you're passionate about. See when our terms begin and schedule your tour today.

Spring 1 | January 4, 2021
Spring 2 | March 15, 2021
Summer | May 24, 2021
Fall 1 | August 2, 2021
Fall 2 | October 11, 2021

Ready to set up your in-person or vitural tour? Or do you have questions about what Siba has to offer? Contact us today to learn more. We're excited to meet you!


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Apply for Fall 1 Term

Student and teacher discussing work

We're enrolling now for our Fall 1 term! Join us August 3rd and take advantage of Siba's hands-on programs and nuturing educational envrionrment. The deadline to apply is July 23rd.
Contact an admissions representative to learn more, or submit an application on our website to get started!


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Recent Posts

Whether you know it or not, you already possess the talents to make a contribution to the world. If you’re passionate about interior design, fashion, graphic design, or business, Siba can help you develop your interests into a career.