I’ve been talking a lot about community lately. What it means, how it has changed, who is a part of it. I thought that when the pandemic hit that my community would be fractured, but it’s been nearly 5 months and I can say that’s not true. I didn’t finish out my senior year living in a dorm, but I did spend countless hours with my roommates on facetime, reconnected with friends from home, and rejoined the Kyle Cavan team. Ultimately, I have found that it may be easy to mourn the elements of community that I have lost, but it’s impossible to not see the benefits and resources obtained from the communities that I have gained.
That's why for this segment of the Class of MMXX series, we have decided to focus on our community and create a platform to cultivate and share resources. And as a way to kick that off, I’ve interviewed our social media manager, Caitlyn Park. Caitlyn has essentially designed her own role at Kyle Cavan, started her own multimedia platform, and joined a variety of creative and active communities. Though her internship was cancelled this summer, she has still maintained momentum by providing a unique point of view to Kyle Cavan’s social media platforms. She is a perfect example as to how you can carve your own career path, and shape your own community, regardless of the situation at hand.
Caitlyn is the perfect example as to how you can carve your own career path, and shape your own community, regardless of the situation at hand.
To get started, tell me where you go to school and what’s your major? I am a rising junior at Cornell University, studying Fashion Design Management with a minor in Business. My major is taught under the Fiber Science and Apparel Design (FSAD) program in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology. It’s a really cool major that combines fiber science, fashion design principles, and business together. The program is focused on the ways we can use fashion as a design tool to progress human interaction within society.
How did you start working at KYLE CAVAN? How would you describe your role? My most immediate role involves managing our social media platforms and heading our creative content direction. Although, I have also worked on graphic design, editorial content, and marketing strategy in the past as well!
I started at KC the winter of my freshman year. I originally emailed them asking about their plans to launch a Cornell collection since I thought the jewelry was so cute and wanted to have a necklace of my own. After hearing back, on a whim, I also decided to ask if I could possibly shadow Kyle, Elizabeth S., and Elizabeth G. for a few weeks while I was at home. At Cornell, we have a rather long winter break and I was looking for something to keep me occupied.
I remember sitting in my dorm between classes anxiously waiting to get interviewed by Elizabeth S. and Kyle. After hearing their story, the ethos and vision of their brand, plus their genuine interest in mentoring and helping me with my career path, I knew I wanted to work for them. After that winter, I’ve stuck around ever since. I interned for them last summer and am continuing to work remotely for them this summer.
However, after these negative feelings subsided, I took the time to reevaluate my situation. While I may not have been able to work at Rent the Runway, I always knew I could turn to my KYLE CAVAN community for support.
It’s really impressive that you were able to find Kyle Cavan, and create a role for yourself. Did you have a different internship for this summer before covid hit? Was it cancelled or moved to remote working? Actually during the pandemic, a few weeks after we had been sent back home, I accepted an offer at Rent the Runway to be a part of their Marketing Internship program. Unfortunately, a few days after accepting this offer, the internship program was cancelled due to COVID-19. Getting the email that it was cancelled was devastating. I was so looking forward to joining Rent the Runway, and I really enjoyed all the conversations I had with members of their Social Team.
At first, to be transparent, my visceral reaction to my internship being cancelled was to be upset and discredit the thought of building momentum. (I think this distress was also compounded by what was going on in the world at that time.) I had put so much time and effort into the interview process that I found it hard to muster up energy to figure out my next steps. This had been the one thing I was looking forward to this summer. However, after these negative feelings subsided, I took the time to reevaluate my situation. While I may not have been able to work at Rent the Runway, I always knew I could turn to my KYLE CAVAN community for support. We had worked on trying to find another internship for me, but ultimately I decided to continue working for KC remotely. I feel incredibly fortunate to have such caring and understanding bosses.
Could you reflect on what it’s like working at a startup? How has working at a smaller company helped you thus far? Ever since I was young, I’ve been fascinated with entrepreneurship so I naturally gravitated towards startups and startup culture. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone, but working for a smaller company has so many valuable perks especially when you’re beginning to navigate your career. For starters, as you had mentioned, I was able to basically create my role at KYLE CAVAN. I got to experience all facets of the company and ultimately decided what types of projects and roles I wanted to take on; and, this is constantly changing. So, in that respect, at a startup you may have a greater sense of autonomy. With that, you also have a greater sense of responsibility since your actions directly influence the course of the brand. This is why I love working at a small business; you become invested in the company and get to decide how you want to contribute to its growth.
So, in that respect, at a startup you may have a greater sense of autonomy. With that, you also have a greater sense of responsibility since your actions directly influence the course of the brand. This is why I love working at a small business
Another benefit associated with working at a startup is being able to exercise your creative problem solving skills. Yes, this might be a buzzword, but what I mean is that since the aim of many startups is to “disrupt” their respective industries, you’re constantly forced to innovate and experiment. I love working at a women-owned startup trying to shake up the rather male-dominated college licensing industry because our strategy in doing so revolves around jewelry. How innovative is that!
I know that you’ve also created your own multimedia platform, Camp Cadmium. Where did you get the inspiration for this and how has the platform evolved during quarantine? Camp Cadmium is a project my best friend and I started the summer after our Freshman year of college! To put it simply, Michelle, my best friend from high school who goes to Georgetown, and I enjoy story-telling through creative mediums and Camp Cadmium is a space for it. It originally began with us wanting to mess around with editorial-style photography and ended up evolving into an online platform with its own zine. We think of it as a community platform that exists on Instagram (@campcadmium) and on our website (www.campcadmium.com ) where we publish/feature art in its broadest definitions in hopes of inspiring others to act on their artistic impulses. Camp Cadmium and the community we’ve formed from it also gives people who may not be studying something in the creative-field, but still have an interest in art, a space to exert their creative energy. This project has been a really fun excuse for us to collaborate with friends, both at home and at college. (It’s also been a cool way to connect our home and college friends together too.)
At the beginning of quarantine, we published the last issue in Volume II of our zine series which was centered around the theme of dualisms. We then published the first issue of Volume III, but have since then taken a step back from the project. Everyone in our community is heavily focused on continuing the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement right now and we felt it necessary to stop the project for a bit. We didn’t want our platform to detract from others' allyship efforts and the much needed attention on BIPOC creatives and support of BIPOC creative ecosystems. However, we’re constantly discussing how to appropriately re-engage with our community again when the time is right.
The idea of community in general has shifted during quarantine. How have you maintained a sense of community while at home? I am a person who values physical experiences so not being able to hang out with people in normal settings is challenging. But, thank goodness for technology for still allowing me to maintain relationships while in quarantine. My community is definitely kept alive through Facetimes, text messages, and phone calls. And, I’ve come to learn that it’s possible to preserve and even expand my community even though we may be miles apart. Lately, I’ve been going on socially distanced picnics and having beach days with friends which has been nice. My best friend and I like going to the park to paint and read in the afternoons too.
It’s interesting because I’ve seen a shift in the way I engage with social media to maintain community. Following the death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve also built a new sense of community with a lot of people from school that share my ideology. This movement has opened up a whole new community to me and has allowed for fruitful dialogue which I am appreciative for.