Michelle Gabriel

M.S. International Fashion Marketing, Class of 2019

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Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Michelle Gabriel and I am the Senior Design Manager at Mara Hoffman. I am originally from Cincinatti, Ohio.

Can you give us the highlights of your career thus far?
I am a multifaceted designer and sustainability specialist with more than 12 years of expertise in creative direction, material sourcing, visual merchandising, and technical design for retail and apparel brands. I believe strongly in pushing the apparel industry towards greater sustainability and positive impact to achieve a more viable and healthy future for the planet, people, and brands. I am well-versed in all aspects of design, from production and sourcing to merging creative and strategic experience, in order to bring a product or brand vision to life through the filter of human and environmental sustainability. I am an effective leader capable of managing and motivating cross-functional teams under a unified and forward thinking creative vision. I currently serve as the Senior Design Manager at Mara Hoffman where I focus on pushing the conversation about what it means to source, produce and design sustainably for the contemporary women’s market.

What made you want to pursue a Master’s degree at this point in your career?
I found myself at a conference with Textile Exchange at the Fair Fashion Center and a staff member mentioned the program. A little seed planted and I kept returning to the idea of the master’s program until I ultimately decided to take the jump. I am a measured person and take such decisions maybe more seriously than necessary but after some thought and discussion with my community decided to take the leap. It was a hard decision because my career takes a lot of my energy and time so to take on something additional seemed somewhat impossible, but it has been a great decision that I know is going to help me to achieve a direction in my career I look forward to.

Why GCNYC specifically?
When it comes to the traditional profit-first model most industries favor, business as usual is no longer acceptable. Therefore, to go to a traditional MS or MBA program is not prudent, in my opinion. GCNYC has a forward thinking ethos and specific perspective for the Fashion industry that I think imparts necessary tools to students for a changing future.  Additionally, it is one of the few schools merging business, sustainability and fashion. For that reason, it made perfect sense for my career and personal ethics.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning – driving you to affect change? What’s your purpose?
I am driven by the potential to create positive impact. This can manifest in ways as small as bringing a good attitude to those around to making measured and hopefully lasting change within an industry in desperate need of it. What brings me to the work each day is the knowledge that I am moving forward – hopefully with others ahead of me, along side and following behind – working to tip the scales towards good. This ethos pushes me to be active politically, to volunteer, to attend graduate school, and to be a voice that is hopefully contributing in some small way to moving the universe towards justice.

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