Duluth fashion company with UMD ties launches new technology at the Oscars
Local Duluth fashion content company, Runway Manhattan, launched a beta version of its new fashion keywording website, FashionBrain, at the Oscars on Sunday Feb. 24. The launch comes as a collaboration between the Duluth company and an artificial intelligence (AI) company in the Netherlands. The company's founder, Lara Signorelli attended UMD for one year and two of the remaining five staff members are also UMD alumni. Lara and her business partner/husband Markus say they are often open to UMD interns as well.
Current employees Jo Arlen and Zach Chase are UMD alumni. Jo graduated in 2014 as a English and International studies double major. Zach graduated in 2010 with a Fine Arts degree emphasizing in digital art and photography.
Jo discovered the job opportunity at “networking night” at UMD. An event that wasn’t held this year and one she hopes they bring back. Their company has gone every year and hope to come back in the future.
“I met with a representative of the company in November of 2014, like a couple months before I graduated, and I was like I’m graduating with an English major, I've heard of you and you seem like a cool company in town and they were like ‘it just so happens we’re looking for a writer specifically right now’” Arlen said.
Just like that she interviewed in December and had a job in January. Currently she is head writer and fashion editor. Also described by her as the “trend master.” She reviews corrected photos and tries to pull out trends from them. Then she writes about these trends for customers to see and use in their marketing.
Zach is an editor and photographer for Runway Manhattan. He works with the content from companies around the world to find the best photos and tag them with fashion specific keywords. With his digital arts and photography backgrounds he deals in color correcting the photos and uses his photographer skills onsite at big fashion events.
“Yeah it's definitely a huge opportunity for us here, the traveling,” Chase said. He has shot a few fashion weeks and another team member just got back from New York Fashion week.
Founders Lara and Markus also expressed they’re currently open to UMD interns. Their company works with agencies around the world. Their clientele is disproportionately outside the US in Dubai, Russia, and other places within Europe and Asia. In the past they have worked with the Cultural Entrepreneurship or CUE classes. They’ve had five or six UMD students in the past few years and are open to inviting some again soon.
Markus described the student internships as a “two-way street.”
“Students come in with curiosity and energy. We offer hands on time. I’m not sure what college is like now but I imagine a lab you want to get out of by applying what you’ve learned,” he said. He also equated going into the business world without an internship as getting to the cutting edge and the edge falls off. Noting it’s better to learn as an intern than fail as a business owner.
Runway Manhattan is located in downtown Duluth. FashionBrain is hoping to grow in the coming months at events such as the MET Gala and/or Cannes Film Festival.
*Edited after notification the Artificial Intelligence agency is based in the Netherlands not Norway as previously stated.