Fashion design students win big with the TITIKA Challenge

Header image for the article Fashion design students win big with the TITIKA Challenge Credit: JACQUELINE CAMPBELL
Campbell's winning design for the TITIKA challenge.

Three second-year Fanshawe students, Sheetal Mahar, Erica Batten and Jacqueline Campbell from Fanshawe’s Fashion Design program have won the TITIKA Challenge, an activewear design competition for 12 ambitious fashion students in both Canada and China. TITIKA Active Couture is a women’s fashion company which was established in Toronto, Ont. Mahar, Batten, and Campbell are among the 12 finalists that are now invited to showcase their designs in Toronto this fall. Their travel and accommodation are provided by TITIKA as well as prizes totaling over $10,000.

The students were presented with the challenge as a means of obtaining their co-op credit.

“It was just the end of my second year at Fanshawe and Wendy [Wendy Sperry, Professor in the Fashion Design, Fashion Marketing and Management, and the Design Foundation program at Fanshawe] presented this opportunity to our school, just like they did at every other school throughout Canada and China,” said Campbell.

Navigator. Londons student lifestyles magazine.

“They asked us to make a collection designed around a hope,” she added. “They had these two different themes….one being excitement and the other one, you know, blooming from something, like finding who you are, like renewal. So then, we got the project assigned to us, and then I just kind of wanted to get involved with it, as it was offered as part of our co-op.”

The students were presented with details about this contest earlier in the year, but due to their school workload, they mainly focused on completing projects assigned by their instructors. Near the end of their academic term, they were able to dedicate more hours to complete the challenge, which took them roughly one to two months to accomplish.

For Mahar and Campbell, the shift from in-person classes to virtual classes significantly benefited their schooling. But, for Batten, a single mother, distant learning served as a great challenge.

“I’m a single parent,” said Batten. “So, my daughter was also remote learning. Trying to do this whole semester was tiring, to say the least. But we made it work, and that’s all I can really say. Getting and touching the fabrics, I’m very tactile that way, and being unable to do that was really difficult for me.”

The three winners consider this achievement as a step forward towards their ultimate goals in their profession within the fashion industry. Maher, an international student, started an online tutoring business in her country. At one point, Maher discovered her desire to learn more about fashion and design, which led her to being enrolled at Fanshawe’s Fashion Design program. She hopes to combine her passion in entrepreneurship and fashion design to establish her own boutique.

Similarly, Batten also wishes to travel the entrepreneurial route.

“I always wanted my own store, which is still something that I’m going to be looking into,” said Batten. “I am going to be following through for my fourth year in theatrical designing. I want to be working in theatre, movie, costume design, things like that.”

Moreover, Campbell wishes to uncover the different industries within fashion, such as working in parts of magazines, television commercials, as well as furthering her education in fashion.

“I’m going to study fashion for the rest of my life, I know that for sure,” she said, “I just want that for me. It’s the most rewarding when I get accomplishments like these [TITIKA challenge] and I take a moment to be like, wow, you’re doing amazing girl, like it makes the hard work not so hard anymore.”

The trio commends their professors and members of their faculty for their constant guidance. They each enrolled in the program with minimum knowledge and background in fashion designing and were in complete surprise at their own achievements throughout. They also acknowledge their passion for their field of study being the key motivator.

“To be honest, for everyone, I would say to always follow your passion,” said Maher. “I was doing medical before this. It was good, but not that enjoyable. Now, I wake up every day and feel so good about myself, that I am doing the work of my dreams. It’s really, really important to love something that you are willing to do your whole life and are passionate about.”