Graduate credits professors with success in fashion

UA alumna Amanda Perna has passion and a dedicated work ethic, both of which have contributed to her success as talented fashion designer.

Perna graduated from the College of Human Environmental Sciences with a degree in apparel design. She said it was here at The University of Alabama when she realized she wanted to work in the fashion world.

“Once taking my first sewing class with Ms. Paula Robinson at The University of Alabama, I fell in love with the idea of being a fashion designer,” Perna said.

She said she owes a lot of her success to her time spent at the University.

“My amazing faculty in the department of clothing and textiles gave me a well-rounded skill set, which helped me excel in the fashion industry in New York City,” Perna said. “They also helped me to achieve many of my career goals, preparing me for my first design job at Calvin Klein, as well as Dr. Sue Parker giving me the confidence me to follow my dreams of owning my own business.”

Sue Parker, a professor of entrepreneurship and e-commerce, was close to Perna and still remains in contact with her. Parker said she would describe Perna as an excellent student and leader.

“Very passionate, very goal-oriented, knew what she wanted to do and worked very hard to accomplish those goals,” Parker said. “A very intelligent student – one that took advantage of opportunities that we have to offer at The University of Alabama.”

Parker also said she believes Perna is very successful because of her work ethic and preparation.

“She was very serious about her school. As far as projects, she did the best she could do. She wasn’t a student who was satisfied with just meeting the requirements. She went far beyond,” Parker said. “Her goal when she was a student at The University of Alabama was to one day own her own company. She prepared. She worked hard. She familiarized herself with the fashion industry.”

Perna’s first big break into the fashion industry was an internship with designer Oscar de la Renta.

“I got to experience the industry in New York City and I worked with a team of incredible people,” Perna said.

Since then, Perna has worked as a designer for Calvin Klein and appeared on Project Runway Season 9.

Perna now lives in New York City and stays busy with many projects, including a clothing line of her own.

“I have been a very busy bee, which makes me happiest,” she said. “My main project has been working on my own line, The House of Perna, which keeps me very busy. I have also been doing a lot of styling. I have been doing events, fashion shows and dressing individual clients. The most recent fashion show being a show for Bloomingdale’s in Boca Raton, as well as styling the fashion show for the launch of the CUSP department at Neiman Marcus in Ft. Lauderdale, [Fla.]”

Despite her busy schedule, Perna still stays connected to the University and its students. She said she wants other students to have the opportunities for success that she was so fortunate to have.

“I feel very passionate about helping other students follow their dreams,” said Perna. “Since graduating, I’ve been back multiple times to speak to the students in CTD. A week ago I spoke via video conference with Dr. Parker’s entrepreneurship class about my experiences as a business owner. In October, my team and I put together a fashion show at UA benefiting the tornado victims. I also served as a mentor for two seniors last year as they worked on their senior design projects in Mr. Brian Taylor’s class.”

Perna hopes her success story can serve as inspiration to any student, especially one who dreams to work in fashion or any competitive industry.

“My best advice is to always believe in yourself and follow your dreams,” Perna said. “It’s a very hard, fast paced, competitive industry. You have to be prepared to work hard, long hours. If you’re motivated, passionate, and willing to put in the work, you’ve got a shot at making it.”

For more information about Amanda Perna’s clothing line, visit thehouseofperna.com