B.S. Fashion and Textile Management, Brand Management and Marketing, 2015
Assistant Product Development Manager at Gap Inc.
New York, NY
Say hello to Brielle Papalia, a young alumna of the Wilson College of Textiles from Kernersville, North Carolina. As part of her family’s fourth generation to enter the textile industry,. Papalia was no stranger to the field. She pursued a B.S. in Fashion and Textile Management with a concentration in Brand Management and Marketing and was a highly involved student. As part of the Pack,. Papalia engaged in student organizations, volunteer work, and an internship at a sustainable apparel company, where she gained valuable hands-on experience.
After graduating from the Wilson College of Textiles, Papalia joined Gap Inc. where she works on various projects as an assistant product development manager. We were able to catch up with her and discuss her career path, Wilson College memories, and current involvement in the NC State community.
Why did you choose NC State/Wilson College of Textiles?
I am the fourth generation in my family to have a career in textiles. I chose the Wilson College of Textiles because the textile program is #1 in the world, plus the advanced technology used in classes, opportunities for students and the amazing staff that I was lucky to meet during a high school open house visit. I loved that I could choose a degree in Fashion and Textile Management with a concentration in Brand Management and Marketing because the degree allowed me to learn the technical aspects of textiles as well as marketing. This allowed me to apply to many different jobs upon graduation. I also chose NC State because I wanted to attend a large university that had athletics and attend tailgates, football games and basketball games!
What activities were (are) you involved in as a student at NC State?
As a student at NC State I was involved with the Fashion Group, volunteered at college fairs and served as a Bevello (clothing boutique) student representative. In Fashion Group, I attended the monthly meetings and helped prepare for the college fashion shows. As a student volunteer at the college fairs, I helped answer any questions that prospective students had, showed visitors around the college and presented class projects. Lastly, as a Bevello student representative, I was one of 10 students around the state that helped promote the store/brand through social media and store events.
What are some of your fondest memories of being at NC State/Wilson College of Textiles?
Some of my fondest memories at NC State were at tailgates and sporting events with friends, especially the games against UNC Chapel Hill! At the Wilson College of Textiles, I have the best memories learning the different textile processes such as screen printing and dyeing fabrics. Another great memory is winning 2nd place in one of the brand management and marketing class project competitions! The class was split into groups and we had to create a marketing campaign for Vince Camuto. Our group won a few of their products and was given the opportunity to network and visit their NYC showroom!
Are there things that you know now that you wished you had known as a student that we can share with our current and future students?
Take advantage of as many networking opportunities as possible! Networking both through the Wilson College of Textiles and outside of the college led me to internships and my post-graduation job at Gap.
In what ways are you currently involved with the Wilson College of Textiles/NC State?
Currently, I am a Wilson College of Textiles regional representative for the Northeast region. A few of the responsibilities include growing the alumni network in my area, promoting the alumni foundation and keeping alumni up-to-date on current events at the Wilson College of Textiles. Along with being a regional rep, I also volunteered to be a part of the Wilson College of Textiles mentorship pilot program during the Spring 2020 semester. During the program I had two graduate school mentees that I met with multiple times over a two-month period to share my industry experience and to help them with setting and completing three goals by the end of the program.
Describe your career path.
After my junior year of college in 2014, I interned in New York City for Threads for Thought, a sustainable apparel company. I have always been intrigued by sustainable companies as the clothing industry is one of the top polluting industries due to waste and chemical processes. During my internship, I worked in the company’s showroom where I helped manage samples, sat in on sales meetings and helped manage the company’s website. After interning, I knew I wanted to return to New York City post-graduation, which led me to applying and accepting a job in production/product development at Gap Inc. the summer after graduation. Since I have been at the Gap for 41/2 years, I have worked in different positions in production and product development. Currently, my position is assistant product development manager in kids and baby denim. I love working in the denim product development department because there are many technical wash processes and new innovative fabrics being introduced. My favorite project I have worked on so far was creating an Earth Day denim collection for kids and baby that used a sustainable fabric from Italy that was dyed using shrimp shells!