Educational Gems: Inside Tiffany & Co.'s Student Mentorship Program
This feature is in the December "The Creators" Issue. Click here to subscribe.
North Carolina A&T State University students and faculty engaging with Dana Naberezny, Tiffany & Co.’s chief innovation officer, jewelry PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFFANY & CO
Over the past few years, Tiffany & Co. has expanded its efforts to ensure that more people can not only enjoy the brand but understand the work that goes into making its coveted jewels.
The brand continues its give-back mission with the announcement of a partnership with Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) in June, where the two organizations work together to create mentorship programs for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) students. Tiffany & Co. sponsored the HFR ICON 360 HBCU Summit and also teamed with HFR and North Carolina A&T State University’s art and fashion department for the Tenacity Talks 10-week lecture series. The series kicked off in the fall 2022 academic semester and will pick up again for spring 2023.
Tiffany & Co. Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Bellai PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFFANY & CO
“When I see how they show up to these calls, questioning without fear and connecting with whoever the speaker is makes me feel so hopeful about the future of fashion and particularly about Black creatives,” says Brandice Daniel, CEO and founder of HFR. “We’re literally investing in this next generation who we know are going to come into this industry and really carry on the work that we’ve been doing. I’m constantly inspired by the students and the professors. I call them superheroes. They are completely committed to the students they are teaching.”
Inside the Jewelry Design & Innovation Workshop (JDIW) PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFFANY & CO
For many students who have always dreamed of owning a Tiffany & Co. piece and didn’t have the opportunity to do so, these experiences ensure they’re able to not only learn about the company but the craftsmanship itself. This fall, fashion merchandising and design students from North Carolina A&T State University toured the Jewelry Design & Innovation Workshop (JDIW) during LVMH’s Journées Particulières and the Tiffany & Co. flagship, as well as partake in a networking luncheon and career panel at Tiffany & Co. headquarters in New York City.
There is also the newly launched Tiffany Atrium, a social impact platform that will advance opportunities for historically underrepresented communities. The launch was marked with a collaboration with American visual artist and community-builder Derrick Adams.
Close-up of the Tiffany & Co. lock bracelet. PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFFANY & CO
Knowledge is often best learned through immersive experience, which Tiffany & Co. Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Bellai (whose own mantra is “you have to see it to be it”) recognizes.
“We’ve recently launched a two-year apprenticeship program [in alignment] with the LVMH Institut des Métiers d’Excellence that is certified by the New York State Department of Labor,” Bellai says. “In order to curate the next generation of talent, we need to grow them, develop them and really instill in them the expertise that perhaps they wouldn’t have found [elsewhere].”
Students learning about jewelry craftsmanship PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFFANY & CO
She continues, “It was really an extraordinary opportunity for us that we did intentionally because we wanted to seek out underrepresented communities to get talents that were new to both jewelry design and just had a passion. We feel very strongly about investing in and amplifying even further in future cohorts, because this is really the way that we are going to change the industry.”
Brandice Daniel, founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFFANY & CO
It’s essential to show that luxury can be attainable, especially for the Black community. And Daniel agrees: “We need to know that you want us, see us and respect us. To have Tiffany & Co., which is such an established brand, communicate that by how they show up is huge.”
North Carolina A&T students and faculty alongside Tiffany & Co.’s Dana Naberezny at the JDIW. PHOTO COURTESY OF TIFFANY & CO