Alumna Gabrielle Aldridge earned both a BFA in Apparel and Textile Design and a BA in General Management from Michigan State University in 2016. She is now the Product Development Manager for Shinola, an American luxury goods brand based in Detroit.
What are your responsibilities as the Product Development Manager at Shinola?
My main responsibility is to take our designers’ concepts and work with our manufacturers to develop each style to a point where it can go into production. I manage costs, tech packs, and production sheets. I review all samples and provide comments and corrections.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
I enjoy most that I can wear many hats in my position, and I get to work with a lot of different teams.
What are some of the products that you have helped develop?
Currently in stores, I have helped develop all leather goods including men’s briefcases, wallets, women’s handbags, etc.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the final touches of our F19 collection, developing S20 collection, and preparing F20.
How is it that you got your position as the Product Development Manager?
My experiences made me very qualified, and I knew someone at the company to be my reference.
Tell us about other positions you have held prior to joining Shinola.
Prior to Shinola, I had been working in New York as a Designer. I started as a Design Intern at Misha Nonoo and then moved to The Levy Group designing outwear for private label accounts where I held positions as Assistant Designer, Associate Designer, and Designer. Both were smaller companies where I did everything from design, technical design, development, and production.
It is an exciting time for Detroit as it is going through so much growth and change. What is it like to work in a city like that?
There is so much inspiration in the city. It is such a strong city that it makes you want to work harder to be part of the success story. You meet amazing people who are so resilient; it is incredible to hear their stories.
Tell us about your involvement in the upcoming panel discussion in Detroit in April for the Excel “On the Road” event.
I will be attending the event to speak about my journey in hopes to give advice to students who are looking to begin their own journey in a similar field.
How has your MSU education contributed to the success of your career?
ATD prepared me to be able to think outside the box and be very creative, while my business degree developed my analytical skills. In product development, I was able to merge my degrees to find the perfect fit for me.
What are some of your favorite memories of your days as an MSU student?
Some of my favorite memories were the ATD fashion shows and being at MSU when we won the Rose Bowl.
What do you see as the importance of a liberal arts education?
Liberal arts education can enrich the mind so much more than traditional studies. It allows you to be innovative, and even in a traditional work setting, it can make you a great problem solver.
What advice do you have for current college students?
College is a time for exploration. Take the time to try and learn everything you can.