Monday, June 29, 2009

Upland Boutique Gets New Look With Help From Students

Dahlia’s Boutique owner Martha Smith and The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire Academic Director for Fashion Sherry West watch as the Fashion & Retail Marketing students transform the boutique as part of a class project in the course “Visual Merchandising.” Photo by Robert Swapp

Jenny De La Mora and Jessica Lundy, who are enrolled in The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire Fashion & Retail Marketing program, turn a lamppost into a clothing display as part of their class project to make over Dahlia’s Boutique in Upland. Photo by Robert Swapp

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) When marketing fashion; presentation means a lot.

Students in The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire’s Fashion & Retail Marketing program learned how much difference a great presentation makes when they took on the job of transforming Dahlia’s Boutique, an upscale and well-stocked clothing boutique in Upland. They spent most of the Spring 2009 term devising plans for this makeover, and completed the work recently.

“It’s an amazing transformation,” said Martha Smith, owner of Dahlia’s Boutique, the next day. “I am pleased with all the creative ideas the students have.”

Fashion & Retail Marketing students enrolled in the Visual Merchandising course took on the job, at the recommendation of Academic Director for Fashion Sherry West. After meeting with Smith earlier this year, she realized the Fashion & Retail Marketing students would have a great hands-on learning opportunity if they worked with Smith to give her boutique a new look.

“It is so wonderful to see the students taking what they have learned out of the classroom and into a project for a real fashion boutique,” West said.

Luis Garcia, the Visual Merchandising instructor, is also pleased with what his students came up with for the final project.

“It was excellent,” he said. “I am amazed with all the ideas they have. These students are in their first year of study now. When they graduate in a few years, the impact they will make on fashion marketing is going to really shake things up.”

Dahlia’s Boutique is now arranged into distinct areas. Up front, a trend shop alerts customers to the latest fashion trends. Other areas focus on clothing, with items now arranged by “color story,” that is in eye-catching color combinations such as purple, lavender and brown. Yet another area focuses on handbags and accessories.

The Fashion & Retail Marketing students also updated the lighting and fixtures. Fixtures take on a new meaning with this transformation, Garcia explained, because the students arranged clothing on unconventional items such as an old armchair.

Students worked in four teams to create the transformation. They democratically elected three students to head the four teams. Garcia assigned other students to work with them.

Adam Cintas, whom Garcia describes as “ a real go-getter,” led the teams “Handbags and Accessories” and “Merchandising,” the team setting up the clothing displays.”

The “Fixtures and Trend Shop” team, led by Shannon Valenzuela created the Trend Shop display near the front of the store and arranged for the unconventional display fixtures, such as the armchair.

Jenny De La Mora headed the “Mannequins and Lighting” team. This group created displays with newly outfitted mannequins, and highlighted them with special lighting.

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design, Fashion & Retail Management, and Media Arts & Animation. It offers an Associate of Science degree in Graphic Design, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design.

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers an Associate of Science degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Management.

Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.

It’s not too late to start a new term at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire. Courses begin July 13 and classes are offered in the day, evening and on weekends for new and reentry students.

For more information, or to arrange a tour, call The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire at (909) 915-2100 or go on line to

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of the Art Institutes (, a system of over 40 education institutions located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.