Over the years, studio1851 has evolved from pop-ups to a picturesque space in Winslow. According to club Director, Professor Kristin Kinksy, the progress is primarily due to students like senior fashion merchandising major Catherine King.
King has been a mainstay within the organization for the last four years— joining as a sophomore after taking the club’s corresponding class the year before. “She was in my buying class, which was unheard of, I think as like her very first semester maybe,” said Kinsky. “I invited her to come into studio because yeah, I mean, there's certain students that you can just see from a mile away, like, this is someone we got to watch.”
Up to that point, Kinsky did not allow admittance to underclassmen. However, according to Kinsky, King displayed a positive attitude, energy, and professionalism as a first-year in the advanced course. “She wanted to learn everything about everything,” said Kinsky. “You find someone like that and you're just willing to give [them] all the energy in the world.” Because of King’s clear capability, Kinsky allowed her to join studio1851 in fall 2020.
Around the same time, King found her niche in product development. King originally thought of pursuing design, but settled on merchandising because she was intimidated by the idea of having her own brand. “I definitely don't regret it. And as soon as I got here, I knew I was in the right program. My dad's a business owner, so I've always kind of felt connected to like business. So I remember I was very happy with my choice,” said King.
Additionally, King has received affirmation through her internship experience at TJX. “I remember the day I was a freshman and I heard about product development. I was like, immediately like, that sounds like something I want to do,” said King. “But I would have never realized it if it weren't for my job just because I think that the best kind of knowledge you can get or education you can get is working.”
King’s internship consists of identifying and applying trends, sourcing materials, and creating a competitive product that consumers will enjoy. She landed the 10-week internship her sophomore year and worked in the adult sweater department. When that time came to an end, TJX didn’t want to let her walk, ultimately offering her to stay long-term. King accepted, and has since been given opportunities in other departments.
All the while, King was in control back on campus as well. She assumed the role of Operations Manager in studio1851 early her second year, handling general store management. Since then, effectively every major move made by student staff has gone through King. “...I think it's because I've been there for so long… So it's cool that I have a respect thing,” said King.
There to mentor King when she assumed this responsibility was Brianna Doody (‘21), who was a senior when King was a sophomore. Doody said herself and King were quick to click and form a dynamic-duo. “We partnered together on numerous projects; on campus events, pop ups, social media live streams,” said Doody. “Catherine is someone that is a leader and team player in all aspects. She is extremely dedicated, driven, and creative and has made such an incredible impact on studio1851… I knew she would continue to be an amazing role model to newcomers joining studio1851.”
King’s commitment to the club is clear, but according to Kinksy it was further exemplified this year when King ensured everything was in order the night before Fall Open House. “Friday night, she's a senior, she probably could be doing something more social or more terribly exciting. But she's like, alright, this is what we have to do. And that's why I would give her a reference, you know, that shines no matter what, like, she's that person.”
The admiration is mutual in the two’s professor and protege relationship, as according to King “it really feels like a return on investment like what I'm doing for her matters. And I can tell that she cares that I'm doing that for her so [you] know, she is definitely one of my favorite people and graduating and saying goodbye to her will be like one of the hardest things.”
With graduation in May, junior fashion merchandising major Eryn Sheeley is set to be King’s heir. Sheeley joined studio1851 last spring, and was more of a bystander in her initial semester. However, this year she has been encouraged by Kinsky to acquire knowledge from King. “It also kind of grew into this friendship that I never knew I could have with [King], like the face of the fashion department that's talked about all the time… I get like the chills talking about it,” said Sheeley.
After managing to put King's campus celebrity status aside, Sheeley started to learn from who she’s looked up to. According to Sheeley, King has walked her through aspects of inventory, buying, creating orders and apparel, and more. “It was so cool to see like, oh, I can learn something from someone else, not just my professors,” said Sheeley.
King says Sheeley’s tenacity reminds her of herself. “I think that is what impressed me about Eryn because she will say these things like, Okay, I'm gonna get this done. And then like, an hour later, it's done,” said King. “Eryn is just another example of how this program can introduce you to people you wouldn’t normally have had the chance to meet. I am so excited to see what her and the rest of the team does in the future.”
Sheeley is aware of the hole she’s meant to fill, but is confident she’ll succeed in her own right with King’s cosign. “I think for me, it's big shoes to fill. Again, I'll say, she's Catherine King,” said Sheeley. “But I think honestly, she's teaching me how to live up to those standards in such different ways… And I think learning that from her, the way she goes about her life, and like the personal side, and a professional like fashion industry side, that's what I kind of want to take with me.”
Kinsky has seen many classes come and go since studio1851’s inception, but recognizes how crucial King has been for the club. “I depend on these students so much. And they always exceed any expectations. And Catherine.., she's one of those students that is almost reading your mind. Like before you go to reach for the phone she is, you know, texting and saying this is happening or asking this question,” said Kinsky. “She seems to take very seriously making sure other people know how to do things, and that other people are confident and able to do that. And again, I'm super lucky.., she's going to be missed.”