On February 6, junior Sarah Woods addressed the crowd at the Bryan Foundation Luncheon. She was grateful to the foundation for providing her with a scholarship and spoke for a little while about her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in consumer, apparel, and retail studies (CARS), revealing plans to study abroad this semester in South Korea.
A few days later, in between rounds of packing for the trip abroad, she sat at the Elliott University Center and thought about how she got to this point.
Woods was born and raised in Greensboro, homeschooled with her brothers and sisters. She says it was an environment that fostered creativity.
“Everybody sings and plays an instrument,” she said. “We used to go to the library and they’d have art programs and they’d do drawing or ceramics — those were my favorite.”
One early creative pursuit, in particular, stands out.
“My mom taught me to sew when I was 7,” she said. “And I kind of went off on my own. The first thing I ever made was a bandana. It was this pink bandana and all I did was hem the edges of it. It was a big square, but I was so proud of it.”
Woods soon graduated to making shorts and dresses. Given the high price of fabric, she began to study YouTube tutorials, occasionally skimming through Goodwills and eyeing items to upcycle.
While still in high school, she became involved with Greensboro Fashion Week, which led to design experience with the Twin City Fashion Week in High Point. She couldn’t get enough.
“There’s the walkthrough two hours before the show, everyone tries everything on, things go wrong, things are too small, there are things you have to fix, everyone’s freaking out, everyone’s getting dressed, and then they walk, and it’s 15 minutes, and it’s all over,” said Woods.
When it came time to decide on a college, it’s no surprise that UNCG THREADS caught her eye — the CARS student-run organization hosts two fashion shows a year. She recalls thinking: “When I am here freshman year, I’m doing that.”
Since deciding to become a Spartan, Woods has filled her resume to the brim. But it hasn’t all been planned.
“I started applying for internships freshman year because I was really interested, but for a while, I wasn’t sure whether design or another part of the fashion industry was for me,” she said. “I just started applying.”
Woods has an apparel design concentration within CARS. She has interned with Marie Oliver and Kontoor Brands, working on the marketing and patternmaking side of the industry, respectively. She’s worked with THREADS and various other fashion weeks in the Triad. She’s also a Blue and Gold Scholar and even a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honor society.
With a senior year still to go once she returns from South Korea, Woods says she isn’t done learning. She plans to continue drilling down exactly what she might want to do with her career.
“I would like to work more with sustainable fabrics, so trying to find new ways to make sustainable fashion cheaper for people,” she said. “Some people don’t have a ton of money to spend, so finding a way to incorporate those better fabrics would be awesome.”
Whatever the outcome, Woods is glad she picked the CARS program at the Bryan School. She says it’s like being part of a big, creative family — something she’s certainly used to.
“The last THREADS fashion show was really awesome. It was my first time showing a full collection rather than a few pieces. Seeing all of those pieces go down the runway, like, UNCG helped me get here, this is what I’m doing,” she said. “Everyone wants to see you grow.”