For Jaime Mestres, fashion has been the family business for multiple generations. Inspired by the work of her father and grandfather, she pursued a career in the fashion industry, ultimately earning a PhD from the Department of Textile and Apparel Management (TAM) at Mizzou. Today, she works as an Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for TAM, helping students achieve their career goals in the fashion industry.
Dr. Mestres grew up in South City, St. Louis, where both her father and grandfather worked in visual merchandising for the city’s busy Garment District. In the middle of the 20th century, St. Louis was a well-known center of fashion innovation and manufacturing, and it played a significant role in the development of junior apparel as a category of clothing. Motivated by this St. Louis history, Dr. Mestres initially obtained a degree in Fashion Merchandising from Fontbonne University, and at the encouragement of a faculty mentor, she came to Mizzou to pursue graduate work in Textile and Apparel Management. During her graduate studies, Dr. Mestres was able to investigate the evolution of the junior apparel industry further with a master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation on the topic.
While working on her degrees at Mizzou, Dr. Mestres took a full-time position as an academic advisor for TAM and has continued in this role since then. At some universities, faculty members may carry out most advising duties, but at Mizzou, many units have professional advising staff to help students develop their academic plans and to provide support in navigating university programs. With so many policies and requirements to track, professional advisors are able to provide an approach to advising that considers the whole student in relation to their specific goals; however, students are still able to go to faculty members for advice on research, teaching, and their career paths.
Dr. Mestres does all of this and so much more. “My job is about building relationships,” she said. “I get to support students in achieving their academic and career goals.” In addition to helping students individualize their plans here at Mizzou, Dr. Mestres coordinates career services for TAM and maintains industry contacts to facilitate events with executives and on-campus interviews for students.
Dr. Mestres is also a skilled instructor and teaches a wide variety of TAM courses throughout the year. One of her favorites is TAM 1300 (Softgood Retailing), because it allows her to connect with all of the incoming freshmen. Another is TAM 2500 (Social Appearance in Time and Space) – “It’s diversity-oriented and can open students’ minds across cultures,” she said.
Her best piece of advice for students at Mizzou: “Find mentors for different aspects of your academic and career goals. If students have someone supporting them, they’re going to be successful.”