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Joelle Bond ’13: Inspired to Design Pieces That Will Always Stand Out in Your Wardrobe

Joelle Bond

By Kamilah Heslop

Since a young age, Joelle (Purifoy) Bond ’13 has had a keen eye for design. She went from using crayons as a child to draw portraits of her loved ones to learning how to sew an intricate trench coat in high school.

That elective sewing class, combined with her passion and creative talent, sparked Bond’s interest in attending the Wilson College of Textiles at NC State.

“I’d learned from a friend who had attended the Wilson College that it was the world’s number one college of textiles,” she says. “I knew I wanted to pursue fashion design, so I applied and was thrilled to be accepted!”

Since graduating in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in fashion and textile management, Bond has had a successful career in womenswear design. She’s held a variety of design and merchandising roles at leading brands, including Tracy Reese, J. Crew and Spanx. While working in Tracy Reese’s design studio in New York, Bond was thrilled to assist in creating feminine silhouettes and color-rich prints while also helping to prepare the brand for New York Fashion Week, which included the development of some iconic dresses donned by Former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Today, Bond is the associate designer of dresses and sweatshirts at Athleta. Prior to this position, she held a technical design role with the company where she perfected the fit of tops, dresses and outerwear, including pieces within the Allyson Felix capsule collection.

Joelle Bond posing with an Athleta model
As the associate designer of dresses and sweatshirts at Athleta, Joelle Bond ’13 has designed many pieces for the company. In this photo, she’s pictured with an Athleta model who is wearing a sweatshirt and bike shorts she designed.

Bond has always been motivated by her personal mission to design fashion pieces that stand the test of time and sit proudly in the wardrobes of her clients. In the Q&A below, she shares more about her path to success. 

Degree B.S. Fashion and Textile Management, 2013 (Concentration: Fashion Development and Production)
Job Title Associate Designer of Dresses and Sweatshirts, Athleta
Current City Raleigh, North Carolina
Hometown Durham, North Carolina

What activities were you involved in as an NC State student and how did they impact your experience?

I primarily participated in fashion show competitions throughout my time at NC State, and it consumed most of my free time. I designed, sewed and showed at around eight shows and won most of them. At NC State, I recognized my own talent through these competitions and understood I could make a career out of doing what I loved. I’m so grateful for that experience and the support I received from the Wilson College of Textiles.

What is your fondest memory of being at NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?

My fondest memories include moments backstage doing hair, makeup and styling for the models (my friends, haha!) who showcased my designs. We had so much fun, and it was cool to apply what I was learning in class to create and bring something I envisioned to life. 

I also really enjoyed my study abroad experience in Florence, Italy! It was such an immersive experience. I learned about fashion history, merchandising and illustration from a different part of the world, and it gave me a new perspective.

Who influenced you the most during your time at the Wilson College of Textiles? And why or how?

My counselor at the time, Professor Hoon Joo Lee, was super supportive of my development and helped me prepare for the “real world” of the fashion industry.

How did your education at the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for what you are doing today?

My understanding of fiber properties and textiles from the Wilson College of Textiles definitely comes in handy in my day-to-day work at Athleta. My degree helps me make more holistic design decisions based on what fabrics and trims are right for different styles.

What advice do you have for current Wilson College of Textiles students?

Find a mentor who’s already working within the industry in which you’re interested and ask them questions about their day-to-day work so that you’ll know the things to focus on while you’re in school.

Please describe your current volunteer and leadership experience.

I was a member of the Color Proud Council of Gap, Inc. and helped cultivate a more inclusive company culture as well as launch customer inclusion initiatives.

I’ve also served as a volunteer judge during Fashion Exposé, which is the longest-running student design competition on NC State’s campus and is hosted by our college’s African American Textile Society.

Describe your career path.

I’ve held a variety of roles, including multiple internships, since graduating from the Wilson College of Textiles in 2013:

  • Salesperson in the Point of View and Petites Department, Nordstrom
    • January 2014-September 2014
  • Retail Salesperson and Visual Merchandising Assisting, J. Crew
    • September 2014-September 2015
  • Merchandising Intern in Hosiery and Intimates, Spanx
    • September 2015-December 2015
  • Design Intern, Sid Mashburn and Ann Mashburn
    • April 2017-October 2017
  • Associate Technical Designer of Tops and Dresses, Athleta
    • October 2017-October 2020
  • Associate Designer of Dresses, Knit Bottoms and Sweatshirts, Athleta
    • October 2020 to Present

Visit my website to learn more about my career path.