It might seem like a club with a name like UNI Style Coalition only cares about clothes and shoes, but the club is actually about so much more. UNI Style Coalition recognizes that having a personal style is way of expression. Through UNI Style Coalition, students can express their creative side and gain confidence in their style. More than anything, the club brings people of different styles and personalities together. The Sword & Shield interviewed President Ellen Uyeda (Sr.) and Vice President Jissa Vennat (Jr.) to learn about their inspiration and goals.
Sword & Shield: Tells us a little about what your club is.
Ellen Uyeda: We focus on health, style, makeup, photography, do-it-yourself crafts and giving back to the community. Everyone has the opportunity to contribute and create. All you need is motivation.
Jissa Vennat: UNI Style Coalition is a group of artists, photographers, writers, crafters, fashionistas–male and female–who are willing to make a statement with their style. Everyone has his or her own style; it manifests in everything from the way a person walks to the color of the shirt that he or she chooses to wear. We celebrate that. We capture style and we communicate with it.
S&S: What was your inspiration to start UNI Style Coalition?
EU: I had the idea to create this club when I realized that small things can make a difference. A while back, I had a friend who was worried about her weight. She played a sport where it was frowned upon to weigh a certain number. After games, I would see her smile disappear and her body language turn stiff and self-conscious. No matter how many times I told her that she should not care about her weight and that she was stick skinny (because she was), she would not cheer up. However, one night, I convinced her to join me in my newfound hobby – making custom shirts. I would take a normal $3 T-shirt, print any graphic image and iron it on. It was so simple and just a fun thing to do with your girlfriends. Whenever I saw my friend with her head hung low, I told her she had to find an image to iron on. We started looking at cute cartoon images with hilarious captions. We started to laugh and crack jokes. I handed her a freshly pressed shirt, still warm with the image of kittens posing with swag. She was ecstatic, saying she would wear it to her next practice. From her smile, I knew during her next practice she would feel confident, and the thought of her weight would be the farthest thing from her mind. Everyone wants to feel beautiful in his or her own skin. From one standpoint, fashion is shallow, but style can affect something deeper. It reflects our personality, communication and self-esteem.
S&S: What are you hoping to achieve in this club?
EU: I am hoping that this community is a place where everyone is welcome to create, not in the face of judgment. Fashion is not a cookie-cutter concept. It varies from different ends of the spectrum. Everyone has something different to contribute.
JV: High school can be really stressful. We wanted to create a place on campus where it is okay to be a little kid with a crayon in your hand, putting creativity to use.
S&S: What are some of your favorite events your club has had?
JV: Every year, we do do-it-yourself bracelet sales for charity; last year, we raised over $300 for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and we are currently selling bracelets to fundraise for Rewrite Beautiful, an organization that raises awareness for eating disorders. It is kind of amazing to be able to use art and fashion as this incredibly powerful medium for doing well.
S&S: How do you maintain clubs members’ interest and recruit new members?
EU: We have a Facebook page, Instagram and Tumblr that we use to advertise all of our events and activities.
JV: We make sure that people are updated and that they can communicate back with us if they have ideas or suggestions. Our door is always open for new members.
S&S: What events or activities is your club currently working on that you would like UHS students to be aware of?
EU: We are currently working on selling bracelets and rings for $5 each. The proceeds go to Rewrite Beautiful which is an organization that promotes girls self-esteem and helps fight eating disorders. Also, we recently had a community service project on Saturday, November 9 at McKenna Fitzgerald’s (Sr.) house. It was a clothes swap where members brought clothes to donate. All the clothes not sold were donated to the Salvation Army, and members received community service hours based on the weight of the clothes they brought. We look forward to more Do-It-Yourself projects and photo shoots coming soon!
If you are interested in joining or hearing more about this club, their meetings are every other Tuesday at lunch in Mr. Chinn’s room (room 711) and you can like the UNI Style Coalition Facebook page. To receive more information, contact Ellen Uyeda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By KAREN ZHENG