SoBA Marketing Alumna Gwen Mann Hobnobs With Mardi Gras Royalty
Gwen Mann graduated as a University Scholar in 2014 with a degree in business administration and a minor in theatre. She focused on two disparate areas of study, marketing and costume design, but they worked together better than some might think.
According to Mann, “Business is practical, and there won't ever be a day when I don't use some sort of business sense.” Her business degree has helped her succeed as a costume designer.
“Today, I'm a seamstress down in New Orleans for Royal Design House, making costumes for the royalty and courts of Mardi Gras,” said Mann. Mardi Gras is a full "season" of events, parades, parties and royal balls, starting on January 6, Twelfth Night. They continue until Mardi Gras day, which is February 9 this year.
“My path started by learning to sew from my mom when I was a kid and making clothing for my stuffed animals, then my own prom dresses in high school,” recalled Mann. During her sophomore year of college, she began working in the School of Theatre and Dance's costume shop and made costumes for stage productions.
“I may have made my connections through theatre, but my ability to network and search out job opportunities what initially learned from the School of Business Administration's career development days,” said Mann. In particular, she found the help writing resumes and cover letters invaluable.
Although Mann proudly proclaims that she’s gifted at dressing far fancier than any occasion warrants or that she makes the best chocolate chip oatmeal cookie dough, she needed coaching on marketing herself and her more applicable talents to potential employers.
Another valuable lesson SoBA imparted with her was the power of networking. “That's how I got my first summer stock job working for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, then Fort Peck Summer Theatre, and finally Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont,” said Mann.
Networking allowed Mann to secure her current position at Royal Design House as well. Her boss, Ashley Sehorn, is a Missoula native and graduate of UM's School of Theatre and Dance. Gwen worked with Sehorn on Montana Shakespeare in the Parks in 2012, and Mann worked hard to stay in touch with her. Mann hopes to make more connections and start doing freelance work in the off season.