In an instant, an educator can light a spark that transforms a student's life. That moment came for Janiece Lofstrom during her grade 10 Planning class at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary. Her career advisor, Mr. Lam, spoke about the Fashion Design Technology program at Eric Hamber Secondary School, and she was hooked. Having already developed an affinity for sewing through a grade 10 course at Tupper, she figured Hamber Fashion might take her abilities to the next level.
Once immersed in Hamber Fashion, Loftstrom's interest in handling a needle and thread became a passion. Thriving in the action-packed pressure cooker that is the Hamber textiles lab, Lofstrom says, "The atmosphere pushes me to do my best. I love that I can learn new tricks of my trade every day at school."
Lofstrom believes there is a misconception about working in the fashion industry, that it is just about designing and sewing. "This industry has almost an endless list of career opportunities, and all you have to do is pick the one you enjoy most," she says, "like the film industry, fashion has many people working in a variety of roles to make everything happen."
Lofstrom wants other students with an interest in fashion to know that you can pursue your passion. The growing industry in Vancouver will bring much opportunity in the years to come for young people. Positions such as Buyer, Visual Merchandiser and Fashion Forecaster are just a few of the careers out there for individuals with a creative flair and a knack for research.
In February 2014, Lofstrom won a silver medal at the SkillsCanada BC Fashion Technology regional competition. The high-stress event challenged competitors to design and sew a casual jacket in just six hours; Lofstrom designed and produced a military-inspired jacket.
"When I first entered the Fashion program, I had only the bare basics and, I'll admit, my sewing needed much improvement," said Lofstrom, "but winning this silver in my second and final year of the program shows how much I've improved and how hard I've worked. I never would've thought this could happen. I'm so very grateful."
Only a week after her win, she earned second place and a $500 scholarship in SFU's Enactus event Beyond the Bag Fashion Showcase. High school students were challenged to take old banners and up-cycle them into rejuvenated articles of clothing.
With a few busy months ahead, Lofstrom is more focused than ever. On April 9 she will compete in the SkillsCanada BC Fashion Technology provincial competition at the Tradex in Abbotsford and in June she will graduate from high school.