CCAD Grad Wins National Fashion Design Competition

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Kassie Haji, a recent CCAD graduate and fashion designer, spent New York Fashion Week making appearances, meeting industry professionals and attending a runway show-her prize for winning the Design for Brad Smith competition.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Brad Smith launched the design competition, with Haji being its first winner, earlier this year. She submitted a sketch a day and a half before the deadline, Jan. 23, and found out shortly after that she'd won.

She was then invited to accompany Smith to a few NYFW events. She also received a one-month internship with Intricate Concepts in New York, branding management representation, a $250 cash prize and the opportunity to present her design portfolio to buyers.

"Things come at you when you least expect it," Haji said.

We talked with her about the competition and what's next on her list.

-Taylor Starek, @taylorstarek

Why did you decide to enter the competition?

Honestly, I didn't even know about it. My friend texted me in the middle of the night and said, "Kassie, you need to do this." And she was really badgering me about it, so I asked my parents if I should do it, and they said to go for it. I didn't think I was going to win or anything. I had a day and a half to do it. I didn't know who Brad was, so I just tried to think of him as another customer. I just designed a sketch and followed the rules of what they wanted, and the next morning I did my video. The third day, when they announced [the winner] on Google Live, I wasn't able to hear it because my computer froze. My friend called me and told me I won. I thought she was kidding, but then she sounded a bit too excited. I had not expected it at all.

Describe the sketches you submitted.

Edgy, sophisticated, quality, intricate detail. That's how I would describe it. I'm not great at describing my work-when I draw, I know what I want. There's always an edge to it.

What all did you get to experience at NYFW?

First, I got to meet Brad. He was such a lovely, nice gentleman. Then I went to Sports Illustrated with him, and I got to see him talk to Sports Illustrated, and they mentioned me on there, and he talked about the design and showed my sketch. That was really nice. After that we went to the NAUTICA show. We got to wear Google Glasses, which was really cool because we got to see it like everyone else was seeing it. Then we went to the main event for the design competition, so I was there and all the press wanted to meet me, so I had a couple of interviews and there were a lot of cameras. That's not something I was used to. I met all the judges that helped Brad decide.

What's next for you?

I'm doing some pretty exciting things. I think I'll start my internship in April. I have branding now for six months. My goal is to find sponsors to be able to have my own fashion show in New York somewhere. I'm designing a portfolio that we'll be sending out to some people that are expecting to see my work. Hopefully they'll like my stuff, and they'll be able to fund my show for me. It's exciting, and I'm going to try my best to get to that next step. You have to work really hard, and I feel like this [competition] was that step that I needed. It's always been my dream to have my own brand and my own show. I'm going to work my best to achieve that.