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Humber Fashion Management Postgraduate and Public Relations Students Collaborate With SENAC University (Brazil)

Written by: Renata Comin (Fashion Management postgrad) and Vitória Christino (Public Relations)

24 students from SENAC University (Brazil), Humber Fashion Management postgraduate (Longo Faculty of Business), and Public Relations (FMCA) worked together in a Collaborative International Learning Project (COIL): “Furniture for a Better Future”. The multidisciplinary project, led by Rossie Kadiyska, Vladimira Steffek, Annette Borger-Snel (Humber College), and Luciana Chen and Myrna Do Nasciemento (Senac University), enabled students to prototype and develop solutions, through design thinking methodologies, for two companies - Wyrth, a Canadian home goods shop and Dikta, a Brazilian furniture store.

Leadership, communication, system thinking, teamwork, and intercultural skills were honed during the project. Education for Sustainability and “UN SDGs 3, 11, and 12” were the guiding principles for students. Students were also offered internship opportunities following the project.


Online learning can be challenging. But the virtual setting creates new possibilities, and the technology allows people to connect in different countries and work along for the same purpose.

That’s what the 5th edition of the Collaborative Online International Learning Project (COIL) for Winter 2022 was all about. The multidisciplinary project enabled more than 20 students from Canada (Humber College) and Brazil (Senac) to work together remotely, to develop solutions for two real companies – Wyrth, a Canadian home goods shop, and Dikta, a Brazilian furniture store.

To help in the development of the projects, each one of the four groups of students was supported by a mentor - Annette Borger-Snel and Vladimira Steffek from Humber and Myrna Nascimento and Luciana Chen from Senac.

The Project

“Cases in Fashion Innovation & Sustainability: Furniture for a Better Future” was the theme of this semester's project. Students were challenged to identify current issues and improvement points for Wyrth and Dikta, considering the changes imposed by the pandemic and its future developments.

During April, students from Sustainable Fashion Management, Public Relations, and Fashion Design worked together to create their business solutions. The students had to attend a weekly live panel with all the participants and a weekly meeting with their groups and mentors.

Throughout the development of the project, students had to connect with their group members, arrange the meetings and manage their projects according to each week’s tasks and reading materials. Students were also required to make a field trip to the store, record the main findings and share them with the group.

The four groups did extensive research on the retail industry and their target market – using SWOT and PESTEL analysis methods. The objective was to develop a final prototype and a presentation of the solution found for both companies through design thinking methodologies.

Global Humber team also contributed with two workshop sessions, one at the beginning and one at the end of the project, reinforcing the aspects of working interculturally and the challenges in this process. The workshops were presented by Rebecca Trautwein, Global Learning and Engagement Manager at Humber.

The Outcome

Students developed their final presentations online and were evaluated by four invited panel guests that were experts in the fashion industry and public relations. The judges had to consider three main requirements – creativity, presentation flow, and feasibility.

Some of the prototypes and ideas presented were:

  • Using technology as the primary tool – a collaboration between Wyrth and Roblox, so consumers could have a better interaction with the brand through metaverse experiences, as well as gamifying the purchasing process in the store and being able to build a community around the brand.
  • Enhancing social media experience - developing a 2.0 version of Dikta’s Instagram, enhancing the brand’s presence, and connecting it better with its customers.
  • Focusing on sustainable prototypes and initiatives: developed for Wyrth, inspired by Dikta – recycling and repurposing their products by offering incentives to consumers participating in the sustainable program.
    Reinforcing the in-person experience in the store - developing an interactive pop-up book for Dikta to exhibit their products distinctively and creating a sustainability section on Wyrth's website.

At the end of the presentation session, one of the four groups presented was selected as the winning group. All participants also received a certificate at the end of the project.

The Experience

In this project, students were able to apply some essential skills, such as leadership, communication, and adaptability to work with different cultures. They benefited from the technology and the online environment to connect with students from different backgrounds to create a business solution for both brands – Dikta and Wyrth.

They were also able to deep dive into the future of furniture, considering its sustainable implications and the new workspace that the world is facing after the pandemic. This module of study also allowed students to develop both cross-culturally and cross-disciplinary skills. Besides academic achievement, students had the opportunity to meet new people and create meaningful connections.

“This experience made me think about the possibilities that I’ve never observed before. Projects like these connect us to people and they help us understand the situation” – Bhavdeep, Fashion Management – Postgraduate, Humber.

The project also allowed students to be exposed to the industry, helping them network with new people and even get the chance of being hired by those companies. This situation happened to a Brazilian student from SENAC, Isadora Ribeiro Dias, who was hired by Dikta in Brazil. “I enjoyed the experience and the connection that I was able to establish with international students, I was able to get to know a little about their culture. I also really enjoyed the fact that there was a national case included – Dikta’s” – Ribeiro, Isadora – Senac Student.

Thank you to:

Academic leads and coaches consisted of Business faculty; Fashion Management Program Coordinator and Professor Rossie Kadiyska, Professor Vladimira Steffek, SENAC Professor Luciana Chen, and Myrna Nascimento, Media & Creative Arts faculty; Public Relations Program Coordinator and Professor Annette Borger-Snel. The team was supported by Research Assistant Renata Comin, who oversaw the administrative work, schedule, and technical support.

Thank you to Rebecca Trautwein, Humber Global, and Emily Riche, FB, and mostly to ARI - Brendan Wehby-Malicki and Ginger Grant.

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