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STEM in Style: Meet the Alumni Working in the Lab at Victoria’s Secret

Sheryl Ray Lavy (left) and Kamryn Henderson (right) pose for a picture in white lab coats and a sign that says "VS & CO Victoria's Secret & Co."
Sheryl Ray Lavy (left) and Kamryn Henderson.

Behind the scenes in the research and development labs of Victoria’s Secret, Wilson College of Textiles alumni ensure products of high quality and comfort for the globally known brand. 

While completing an associate’s degree in fashion design in Arizona, Sheryl Ray Lavy became fascinated with the dyeing and chemical processes involved in textile production. After learning about the Wilson College, she moved to Raleigh and began studying textile technology

Following a summer lab internship, Lavy began a role at Victoria’s Secret in quality management and currently oversees the research and development lab in Ohio. 

In the lab, textile specialists test raw materials and products for the company by creating and measuring performance standards. They assess the mechanical properties of bras, new products and samples. 

“We’re constantly making sure we’re up to date on all of the things that are changing in the industry and evolving with the business needs,” Lavy explains.

In her role, Lavy ’12 has worked with multiple fellow NC State alumni, and right now, she oversees two-time Wilson College graduate Kamryn Henderson. Following graduation, Henderson began working under Lavy’s guidance as an associate textile laboratory specialist. She completed her B.S. in Fashion and Textile Management in 2021 and Master of Science in Textiles 2023 through the accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s program

Henderson poses next to Pink dogs from past seasons at VS & Co Headquarters.

 “Keeping an open mind helped me,” Henderson reflects. “I tried not to lean one way or the other, so I was applying to jobs in technical design as well as the job I have now to see what stuck and give myself all types of opportunities.”

For both alumni, an understanding of textile chemistry, technology and sustainability combined a lifelong love of fashion with a scientific approach. 

Love for the lab

As lab manager, Lavy’s duties include coordinating projects, meeting with international offices and facilitating fast-paced testing. 

“I like working with people from all over the world. I also like digging into the technical side from a performance perspective,” Lavy shares.

Lavy (left) and Henderson in Philadelphia for an industry conference.

Along with lab work, the team occasionally travels to the company’s domestic and international hubs. Only one year into her role, Henderson has already visited New York, Chicago and Philadelphia with the team. 

“I love the flexibility and I love the people I work with,” Henderson says. “I definitely think my number one favorite part of my role is the hands-on aspect. It’s very engaging because I’m doing different things all the time.”

Wolfpack for life

During her time at the Wilson College, Lavy expanded her new knowledge and network by joining the student chapter of the American Association for Textile Chemists and Colorists

“The community that the Wilson College of Textiles has within the university is such a tight-knit group. I still keep up with some of the other students,” Lavy says.

Henderson presents her master’s research about surgical sponges.

While learning about textile manufacturing and technology in class, Henderson developed a special interest in 3D design and sustainability. She expanded her knowledge through a sustainability internship with the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America and research for her master’s program.

“For my thesis, I studied surgical sponge absorbency. It was a little bit of a transition, but it was fun,” Henderson says.

Future focused

Along with working full-time, Lavy recently began a master’s of environmental and natural resources program. She says a passion for gardening piqued her interest regarding opportunities for natural fibers and responsible production. 

“I look forward to being able to utilize my new degree for my work and focus more on sustainability and educating folks about what’s going on,” Lavy elaborates.

Henderson after her master’s commencement ceremony with Associate Professor Kavita Mathur.
Taking graduation photos in the Wilson College of Textiles courtyard.

Having grown up in North Carolina, Henderson explained that relocating to a new city was nerve-racking, but highly rewarding. She feels that having her first post-graduation role with a global company has instilled confidence in her future. 

“From here, I could go into so many different things. I like having a future ahead of me that I’m unsure of. I think it’s exciting,” Henderson says.