A student from Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD) has enjoyed a four-week internship in the bright lights and big city of New York, and even managed to meet her idol Rihanna!

Sarina Mazfari, 20, from Middlesbrough is currently on her third year of a textiles and surface design degree, at the College’s University level campus in Hartlepool. As part of her course, she arranged the month-long work experience with LuRu Home, an interiors fabric design company with offices in New York, San Francisco and Shanghai.

After researching the company, pitching for the internship and a successful skype interview, Sarina was invited to learn all about the textiles business and develop her creative and business skills.

Sarina's experience on photography styling

She said: “The whole experience was fantastic! I was able to spend so much time with the cofounder, Claire, and worked with her on one-to-one basis every day on their specialist range of Chinese Nankeen indigo hand-dyed fabrics. I learned how to prepare client orders for the designers wanting to use the fabric, and created some digital repeat designs with a seamless pattern, as digital print is a new technology that they are looking into.

“I was also involved in business meetings with designers and the staff at Peter Marino – architect of luxury fashion stores such as Calvin Klein and Armani, which was amazing! It was also a great experience for learning about marketing. I found that Instagram is really important as a marketing tool, and discovered how products can sell and how to take better photographs.”

Claire Russo, co-founder, LuRu Home, said: “Working with Sarina over the past month has been a true delight. She’s an exemplary student and incredibly self-motivated. Her talented designer’s eye and strong work ethic made a big impact here in our Brooklyn team. We’re thrilled to learn she’s been selected to exhibit her work at Surtex, a design trade show in NYC next May! A huge accomplishment for an already accomplished student. We know she’ll go far.”

Not only did Sarina have a fantastic work experience, she also met her idol for the second time and Rihanna even remembered her!

Sarina continued: “Two years ago I created a piece and gave it to Rihanna, which she really liked, during her Diamond World Tour at Sunderland. I always wanted to meet her and was so pleased to have the opportunity.

“Then I was one of the first 400 people to purchase her new fragrance, Riri, and won a free VIP pass to meet her. I went to Macy’s and was shocked to find around ten people queuing for the perfume and I couldn’t believe that I was going to actually meet her again!

“When we met she said I was beautiful and loved my sense of fashion so I asked if she followed me on Instagram and she said “Yeah, Sarina right?’ She remembered me from Sunderland and I was stunned. I just told her how amazing she is and what an inspiration she is to me personally, she gave me the biggest hug and kiss and it was the best experience ever!”

Sarina also had a little time to enjoy the full New York experience, saying: “New York City is definitely where dreams are made of. It sounds a bit of a cliché but it is true, as I got goose bumps as soon as I arrived in the city. Seeing the skyline with your own eyes does really blow your mind. I visited as many museums as I could, walked Central Park several times and Brooklyn Bridge at night was outstanding. The fact that there is celebrities everywhere is another thing!”

Sarina in New York

The textile student is now back to earth with a bump and currently studying on her final year. But she credits the college with giving her the confidence to take part in such visits, grab the opportunities that are out there and make the most of the experiences on offer.

She added: “I feel CCAD has let me become somebody. I used to be a really shy person but now, I feel like my confidence has grown, especially in the design world. I enjoy designing purely and find writing essays challenging but that’s what makes a degree. Having the freedom to write your own briefs and plan your own days works best for me. I’m not someone who likes to be lead, I like to lead my own education and I feel like it’s working well for me up to now.

“When I graduate, I want to take maybe a year out to travel. I’m obsessed with culture and need to see the world but eventually I want a design related job. Moving to New York is something I now have in mind and I have made plenty of friends that I will stay in touch with. I would say anything is possible if you want it to be possible.

“People used to laugh when I told them about wanting to be a designer, also about meeting Rihanna. I just think if you plan well, have good supporting people around you, you will get where you want to be in life. Nothing is ever going to be easy and you have got to work for it. My advice to anyone is do not let obstacles get in your way. If you want to achieve then achieve, do what makes you happy. There is no point in living life with regrets.”

Sarina joins former CCAD student and rising star fashion designer Claire Barrow in having their work picked up by international pop star, Rihanna. One of Claire’s designs, a painted jacket, was worn by Rihanna on the back cover of her ‘Talk that Talk’ album, and even made the ‘Best Leather Jacket of All Time’ list by US Vogue.

%d bloggers like this: