On October 24, 2019 our students enjoyed a visit from Margaret Mecca, Class of 1999, Senior Technical Design Manager at URBN Inc. in Philadelphia. After her graduation from Ursuline Academy in 1999, Mecca attended Jefferson University where she explored the many facets of the fashion industry such as retail, fashion and technical design, product development, merchandising, and production. She graduated in 2003 with a degree in Fashion Design and moved to NYC where she secured her first full-time job as Assistant Technical Designer for IZOD under PVH Inc. For the past 13 years, she has built her career with URBN and it’s related brands (Free People, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Nuuly). As a Senior Technical Design Manager, Mecca is considered the “engineer” in the production process, taking a designer’s sketch and turning into a garment. In addition, she oversees a team of over 30 in the design, quality control, innovation, and launching of each new, emerging brand.
While her original plan was to pursue a degree in law, Mecca decided to embrace her passion for art by majoring in Fashion. Her visit began with describing how the fashion industry has rapidly changed over the past 20 years. Recalling that copiers and fax machines were once a lifeline to the business, she credits social media and young influencers, such as our students, for the constant changing, rebranding, and growth. She shared the history of URBN- one man’s dream, $3000, and the help of his college friend seeking a thesis for his entrepreneurial class at Penn. While other clothing lines have gone under, their vision was to embrace their brick and mortar structures by offering a unique experience at their retail shops with coffee bars, manicure stations, furniture, clothing, and more.
“At URBN, every opinion matters. Everyone has a voice. Whether you are a first year intern or a Director, everyone is encouraged to be creative,” explained Mecca. She admitted that her supervisor regularly encourages her to “go against the grain” in order to be innovative. For example, after research revealed that the average female was 5’4” and a size 12, her team collaborated to launch a plus size line “for the intellectual woman that is cultured and experienced.” She also takes much pride in working for a company with a sustainable design strategy, whether it be offering reusable shopping bags, eliminating all plastic packaging, gifting each employee with their own thermos, dishes, silverware, and providing dishwashers for lunch, recycling vintage clothing, repurposing and donating yarn and fabrics, and utilizing existing spaces for retail and distribution. Our students lined up to ask her questions about sewing, merchandising, textiles, and of course, her wardrobe and sequined heels. We are so thankful to Mecca for sharing her knowledge of the fast-paced fashion industry.