As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States in March 2020, the world as we knew it began to change. Schools, restaurants, theaters, and businesses everywhere closed their doors. Revenue at both large companies and small businesses began to plummet, impacting thousands of employees. Many recent university graduates from the class of 2019 were out of luck as their entry-level positions were eliminated. Nina Selset ’19 was one of the many impacted.
Selset, who graduated from SPU with dual degrees in apparel design and apparel merchandising, was determined to launch her career despite the terrible timing.
Selset contacted a former professor from SPU who referred her to Rachel Parcell, a brand that collaborated with Nordstrom. Soon after, Selset had a yearlong contract to work for Rachel Parcell.
That contract helped her build relationships with teams that supported Parcell’s product at Nordstrom. And those connections eventually helped Selset land her current role as an assistant designer supporting Nordstrom’s baby clothing.
“I’ve realized how competitive this field can be, and I feel really blessed to have made these connections and for my prior experience that gave me the opportunity to work hard and be qualified for this next step in my career,” Selset said.
As an assistant designer in Nordstrom’s baby clothing division, Selset researches trends, helps organize color palettes, and keeps an eye on the market by shopping the market, following fashion influencers, and digging into trend report websites. Once the clothing concepts are pieced together, the team’s lead designer shares with her the framework for the design. Selset then provides sketches to meet the design intent and supports the completion of a bill of materials to pass styles on to the next station of work.
Designing for the baby category is surprisingly technical work. The designer must take into consideration precautions such as choking hazards, material, and style requirements, but Selset is pleased with where she’s landed.
“I didn’t expect to love designing baby clothes as much as I do,” she said. “It’s lighthearted, wholesome, and cute. I am also so thankful to be on a supportive, curious, and talented team. I love getting to work with them!”
Selset says her studies at Seattle Pacific helped prepare her for her role as a designer.
“The group projects we did in class were very helpful,” Selset noted. “You must learn to work with different types of people to prepare you well for your career. My professors gave me opportunities to appreciate the different talents and perspectives others bring to the table.”
Professors such Raedene Copeland, Jaeil Lee, and former SPU professors Jonelle Zimmerman and Sarah Mosher went above and beyond for her and her classmates, Selset says. And they had opportunities such as putting on a fashion show during their years at SPU.
“Nina was always a star,” said Copeland. “Her smile and personality shone brightly as she grew into a student leader and strong ambassador for the apparel design and merchandising program. I am not surprised that she has continued to flourish and represent the quality of graduate SPU hopes to produce.”
Selset is thrilled by the career she has at Nordstrom and continues to deepen her knowledge of the fashion industry.
“I always wanted to learn outside of school,” she said. “I am glad that my job and my company fosters a space for my learning and continued growth.”