By Debbie Willmschen

Looking back, some of Kiana Bonollo’s favorite memories at NC State Wilson College of Textiles are participating in various opportunities open to students in the fashion and textile design program (FTD). Bonollo found that creative events, such as the FTD Emerging Designers Showcase and the African American Textile Society (AATS) fashion exposé, allowed her both to expand her portfolio and to learn about the fashion industry.

The AATS fashion exposé is the longest running student design competition at NC State. And Bonollo, a recent graduate from the FTD program, counts her participation in that particular event as a highlight of her time with the college.

“The AATS was my first show experience at Wilson College,” said Bonollo. “And I’m thankful that the college provided us this space to come together to be really creative and do whatever we want.”

Bonollo especially felt the atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration at Wilson College at events like the fashion showcase. Students came together in the studio to work late at night and got up early to help each other. In addition, professors provided critique and feedback throughout the process. Although Bonollo has many accolades to her credit, she still considers her participation in AATS one of her biggest accomplishments while at Wilson College.

“I wasn’t expecting to place at all, and I got first place, which was super exciting,” said Bonollo.

If Bonollo could give advice to incoming students, she would tell them to take advantage of the opportunities and connections that Wilson College and its faculty offer. 

“When I was coming from high school to college, everything was about grades, because that’s how it was in high school,” explained Bonollo. “But I realized as I went on that it’s less about your grades and more about creating a portfolio that you’re really proud of. Grab those opportunities when you can so that you don’t miss out in the future.”

Bonollo has already begun the next steps of her journey. Like a lot of people, Bonollo shifted her work environment during the pandemic and now creates virtual content on her YouTube channel, where she typically gets thousands of views from her 100,000 subscribers. She also creates her own designs and sells the patterns for these designs in an Etsy shop, where she has accumulated close to 6,000 sales and a solid 5-star review.

“So far, this business is going well, and I plan to continue with this for now,” said Bonollo. “It’s super fun. And because I jump started the process before I graduated, I can create YouTube content full time. I’m excited about the potential of this new opportunity going forward.” 

You can find more information about her LinkedIn page.