From the Outskirts of Philly to the Fashion Capitals

November 13, 2023
Senior Elizabeth Kooman balances her artistic side with a passion for marketing in branding and fashion.

Written by Sofiia Mikadze, ’24

Originally eyeing a small Southern school, Elizabeth Kooman's first encounter with the University of Richmond was a game-changer. "I fell in love with our beautiful campus right away," Kooman, now a senior, said. The small class sizes and nearby family sealed the deal for this marketing and art enthusiast.

Kooman's love for art finds its pinnacle in photography, but her artistic exploration extends beyond the lens. A standout moment as part of her art minor was the "Cowgirl Project" in sculpture class. Initiated with a pair of worn teal boots from a resale boutique, the endeavor evolved into a reflection on heritage and family, inspired by her mother's upbringing on a farm. Through dried flowers and old family photos, she creatively reflected on her family history and manifested the connection to a simpler country life.

Balancing her artistic side with a passion for marketing, Kooman discovered her calling early in high school business courses. At Richmond, marketing professor Bill Bergman's Communications and Society seminar opened a new realm of possibilities, especially through lectures about influencer collaborations. As his research assistant, she contributes to crafting top-notch presentations for the Robins School of Business faculty meetings, but her impact extends beyond the college campus, as she supports community-based partnership projects, such as a website revamp for a charity “Wish for More Birthdays” that donates 100% of its proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

Last summer Kooman had an internship in the public relations department at Kenneth Cole. She found herself navigating the fast-paced world of fashion in the heart of New York City. Living in a Brooklyn student building and commuting to Chelsea on the West Side, her time at Kenneth Cole turned into a Devil Wears Prada-like summer. She quickly immersed herself in influencer-based strategies, gaining insights into behind-the-scenes processes, influencer packages, and audience targeting. 

Despite Kenneth Cole's shift to an online, licensed model that reduced the company’s scale, the close-knit group of interns contributed significantly, particularly in developing the social impact project "Kenneth Cole Voice Wear." Focused on supporting social movements, her Gen Z perspective led to impactful designs now available on the brand's website. As the internship concluded, Kooman and her peers turned into influencers for Kenneth Cole's campaigns, as a proof of the tangible impact that her team’s hands-on strategy produced.

Reflecting on her time at Kenneth Cole, she notes, "The hands-on experience helped me realize what I want to do." Kooman envisions herself in the dynamic world of branding. Large fashion players and creative agencies are sources of inspiration, embodying her dream of making brands stand out. 

"Follow your heart and your passions," she said. While she didn't follow in her parents’ footsteps to banking and finance, her pursuit of what makes her happy and fulfilled is a guiding principle. "Don't let the opinions of others get in the way of what you want to do," she said. 

Kooman’s journey is a symphony of art, marketing, fashion, and uncompromised dedication; it’s a testament to the power of following one's passion and crafting a unique path. As she prepares to step into the dynamic world of branding, the fashion capitals and hidden corners of the world await the mark of this young and ambitious branding enthusiast from the serene outskirts of her home in Philadelphia.