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Jeana Grace Bowker ’24 is Fashioning the Future: Her Journey as an Inaugural Textile Pioneer Scholar

What started as a fun hobby has evolved into Jeana Grace Bowker designing full-fledged fashion collections, thanks to the textiles knowledge she gleaned and her life-changing scholarship. This spring, she became one of the first four Textile Pioneer Scholars to graduate from the Wilson College of Textiles.

Jeana Grace Bowker

Jeana Grace Bowker isn’t just passionate about fashion; she practically breathes it.

After learning how to quilt from her grandfather as a child, what began as experimenting with simple designs has evolved into the recent Wilson College of Textiles graduate creating full-fledged fashion collections.

Bowker’s latest work, which was shown this spring at the Wilson College’s Fashion and Textile Design (FTD) Emerging Designers Showcase, is entitled “The Craft.” Her six looks drew inspiration from her excitement and passion for creating while being crafted entirely of secondhand and scrap fabrics. This distinctive collection served as the capstone project for the completion of her bachelor’s degree in fashion and textile design with a concentration in fashion design

“I leaned back on my roots,” she explains. “And, I was proud to have used several quilting techniques in my fashion collection.” 

Jeana Grace Bowker standing with her friends, who are wearing clothing that she designed
A significant moment for Jeana Grace Bowker (center) was showing her collection, The Craft, at the FTD Emerging Designers Showcase. Her work was modeled by her classmates and friends (from left to right) Aleena Thomas, Kat Charrier, Abby Stuart, Laegan Pittman, Stefani Boussias and Lainey Volz.

Today, Bowker is the founder and owner of ZIG Designs and an intern at Lands’ End in their women’s sweaters and knits fashion design department. 

She credits her Windley Family Textile Pioneer Scholarship for making many of these remarkable opportunities possible.

“I can’t express enough how grateful I am for my donors making my scholarship possible,” she says. “Of course, the scholarship lifted the financial burden of higher education, but it has also allowed me to network with industry professionals and given me more opportunities than I would have ever imagined.”

Established in 2018, the Textile Pioneer Scholarship Program awards financial support to exceptional students from non-metropolitan areas of North Carolina, some of whom are first-generation college attendees, who have a strong interest in the textile industry. Serving as the Wilson College of Textiles’ first need-based scholarship, the Textile Pioneer Scholarship Program awards a minimum of $14,000 to scholars and up to $4,000 in enrichment funds for transformative experiences. This unique scholarship program is made possible through generous donations to the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF), the philanthropic arm of the Wilson College of Textiles.

Below, you can learn more about Bowker’s journey as a Wilson College of Textiles student and recent graduate.

What led you to apply to attend the Wilson College of Textiles?

I attended the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) in high school and fell in love with the program. One night, we were working on sewing our garments for the runway show the following day, and I remember sewing with my new friends in the fashion studio and thinking this is where I am meant to be!

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at the Wilson College of Textiles?

I have participated in four fashion shows as a designer, and those are my favorite memories from my time at NC State. I was a solo designer two years in a row at Fashion Exposé, which is hosted by the African American Textile Society. Also, I co-designed two collections with my classmate for the sustainable Hempsmith Runway Show, hosted by alumni of the Wilson College of Textiles. Those shows gave me the feeling of wanting to design fashion forever!

Jeana Grace Bowker sitting at a sewing machine
This spring, Jeana Grace Bowker realized her dream of merging creativity with sustainability when she graduated magna cum laude from the Wilson College of Textiles with a bachelor’s degree in fashion and textile design.

What is your proudest moment from your time as a Wilson College student?

Participating in the FTD Emerging Designers Showcase has been the best experience. My senior collection has allowed me to fully find my style and aesthetic within design. I have done a lot of projects during my time at NC State, but what I created for the showcase feels the most right.

What knowledge and skills will you carry with you as you move forward in your life and career after NC State?

I obtained a lot of knowledge and skills during my time at the Wilson College of Textiles, both technical and professional. The soft skills I have developed, such as communication and teamwork, are what I will carry forward the most.

How has your Textile Pioneer Scholarship enriched your college experience? What has it allowed you to do that you didn’t think was possible?

I attended the National Retail Federation Foundation Student Program in January 2024. That experience allowed me to meet industry professionals and tour retail headquarters.

Are there any Textiles faculty or staff members who have been especially influential during your time on campus? If so, who and why?

My professors all influenced me. I am amazed at their abilities to create and use technology within our industry. They all inspire me in different ways!

What advice would you give to incoming Textiles students?

Specifically for fashion and textile design students, I advise them to give each project their all! There is so much to learn and explore in our studio classes. You get what you put in, so maximize the opportunities to use machinery you may never use again.

What are your post-graduation plans?

I have relocated to Madison, Wisconsin, for the summer to work at Lands’ End as a womenswear design intern on the sweaters and knits team.

Support the next generation of Textile Pioneers

Make a gift to support the Textile Pioneer Student Enrichment Fund today.