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Bayview’s Primed & Prepped Invited to HMA's Annual “Suit Yourself” Fashion Show

by Inge Lamboo

HMA Suit Yourself Fashion Show
This year’s “Suit Yourself” fashion show, co-organized by the Hospitality Management Association (HMA) and the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), expanded its reach with the invitation of Primed & Prepped, a hospitality management/culinary arts mentoring and job training program located at the Bayview YMCA. Over seventy students attended the annual event, which was held this year on Wednesday, February 19.

Founded by Kelly Armstrong, Primed and Prepped is designed to serve as a gateway to higher education for young men of color ages 15-19 in the Bayview/Hunter's Point area. Kathleen Leo, President of the HMA, said, “our Hospitality Management program was looking into getting involved with Primed & Prepped, and the fashion show was the perfect opportunity to not only bring them to the USF campus, but to have them attend this phenomenal event.”

The fashion show is about helping our students gain a competitive advantage,” said Simone Aguilar, HMA Event Coordinator. “It’s about branding your own professional image, the importance of public speaking, knowing what’s acceptable behavior on social media, how important it is to pay attention to detail and how to make the little things about yourself really speak. Through this event we’re providing guidance on things that will help students succeed, no matter what profession they end up in.”

Hospitality Management Fashion Show 1
The evening program consisted of two motivational speakers, a fashion show, a raffle filled with fun prizes and plenty of networking opportunities for the attending students.

“Hospitality Management is a very people-oriented industry,” said Aguilar, “as well as service oriented, so a social event like this is something both our own students and the Primed & Prepped kids can really benefit from. There has been an overwhelming amount of positive response so far, and the Primed & Prepped attendees said that they loved it and that it was an amazing event to get introduced to. That kind of feedback is very exciting for us, because that’s why we do it.”

Felicia Michelle Doubek, Vice President of the HMA, said, “The Hospitality Management Association and Delta Sigma Pi are driven to organize the Suit Yourself Fashion Show each year to educate new students about the difference between business professional and business casual attire. We also bring in helpful speakers to provide tips on personal branding and interviewing.” The HMA and DSP strive to help students make the best impression possible on future employers and gain a competitive advantage. They have motivational speakers come in to talk to the students about professionalism, personal branding and the importance of professional business attire, and present opportunities for the students to expand their professional networks.

HMA Fashion Show - Los Ellis
The two keynote speakers were the co-founders of Brand and Dress, Los Ellis and Bron Austin Deal. Brand and Dress delivers motivational speeches on creating and maintaining a professional business image. A lifetime member of Delta Sigma Pi himself, Los Ellis talked about the importance of owning your own brand and presenting yourself in a positive, professional light at all times. “You know that saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’? That’s not true at all. It’s not what you know, nor is it who you know; it’s who knows you. You could know a lot of people but unless they have not only met you but actively remember you, know you, that won’t do you much good.” Ellis advised students on maintaining a professional online presence on all mainstream social media outlets, including two separate Facebook accounts; a personal account under a nickname and a professional account under your government name.

The second Brand and Dress speaker, Bron Austin Deal, spoke to the attendees about the various degrees of professional business attire. He discussed the difference between business professional, business casual and smart casual clothing, and brought out students wearing examples of each. The student models came from the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta and the fraternity Phi Delta Theta. “The right clothes give people confidence,” said Aguilar. “Fashion is so huge nowadays, I think it’s important to know how to dress professionally, according to the situation you’re in. Wearing the right outfit will make you look fresh and professional, and will make you feel more confident and improve your interviewing performance. Bron Austin did such a great job explaining this. He got involved and interacted with the students, explained things in detail, and provided excellent examples of varying attire. People can get really excited about growing into their career and growing into a professional, and I think that’s what the fashion show supported.”

“As a senior in the program, this is my fourth year attending the fashion show, and I’m still blown away,” said Doubek. “I was extremely happy with the turnout this year.”

Students at HMA Fashion Show
“Every year, our fashion show gets better, and this year was no different,” said Leo. “Simone did a fantastic job with this event as the Primed & Prepped students not only learned from Los and Bron of Brand and Dress about branding themselves and professional attire, but they also had the opportunity to network with the speakers, professors, and other USF students. I think the students learned a lot and truly enjoyed the event. We look forward to working with and supporting Primed & Prepped in the future.” 

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