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2012 News Releases

Passion for fashion takes alumna from cubicle to catwalk

April 17, 2012

Jennifer Carpenter

It's never too late to run down a dream. Or design one, in Jennifer Carpenter's case.

Carpenter, a 2002 graduate of Longwood University's College of Business and Economics, built a successful career in government contracting, but she couldn't shake a desire to try on a different line of work.

She found herself often recalling one of her Longwood business professors, Dr. G. Dean Palmer, and his constant urging of students to set motivational goals and to realize the power of positive thinking. Then, on a visit home, Carpenter found herself looking through a long-forgotten notebook overflowing with clothing designs she had sketched in her youth.

Her path became clear.

Carpenter pressed pause on government contracting to participate in the fashion design program at Los Angeles' Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM). She graduated in 2008 and has run with fashion ever since, designing for Scala Eveningwear, BG Haute and Ludus Athletics, where she also served as vice president.

In April, Carpenter will debut a new collection at RVA Fashion Week, a growing showcase of regional design talent in Richmond. She plans to unveil her "Taking the Lead" collection, an assortment of casual to sophisticated apparel inspired by her professional journey. The collection's colors and patterns convey a sense of the confidence, style and attitude that helped Carpenter break into fashion design.

Jen Carpenter's Fashion DesignsAlthough she has resumed government contracting work, it's a stepping stone to a larger, fashion-oriented goal.

Carpenter envisions opening her own contracting business soon to provide uniforms and custom clothing designs for specific government personnel. Success here, she says, will sharpen skills and translate into more opportunities to pursue her own clothing line, which she's developing under the brand name J. Carpentier. Ultimately, she'd like to open her own clothing boutique.

"I am at this exciting stage in my life and career because of [Dr. Palmer's] guidance," said Carpenter, crediting all of her Longwood professors with what she has achieved in both realms of her professional life. "My instructors at Longwood guided me through a challenging program that qualified me and everyone else to be successful businesspeople in whatever career field we pursue."

From business class to office to fashion runway, Carpenter has taken the lead chasing her dream.