Kara Smith, '16, getting ready to go behind-the-scenes at one of the showings at the prestigious New York Fashion Week.
Among the luminaries at the University of Hartford’s Fall Commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 6, was student Kara Smith ’16, who graduated a semester early and is a star on social media with nearly 15,000 followers on Instagram and more than 10,000 followers on Tumblr.
Kara earned a bachelor’s degree in performing arts management in The Hartt School along with a minor in business administration in the Barney School of Business. She is the founder of “The Site of Style” blog and web site and accompanying social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Her followers login from across the globe to learn what the latest trends are in fashion.
“I was looking for an outlet, a way to share ideas,” she says, noting that “I write about what I see.” When asked where her passion for fashion began, the Illinois native who came to campus from Texas says “I don’t know, it has just always been there.”
Kara didn’t plan to graduate early when she to campus in 2012, but after completing two internships, she realized that if she took one course during the summer, she would have enough credits to graduate in the fall.
“The Site of Style’s” reputation earned Kara invitations to three designers’ showcases during the prestigious 2015 New York Fashion Week. She had a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into putting on a fashion show and was also able to meet and talk with fashion industry professionals.
This is heady stuff for a young woman who started her blog in the summer of 2013. Her web site is an aggregator of stories and news notes about the world of fashion. Given the visual nature of fashion, Instagram and Tumblr were a logical progression. Due to the rapid growth in her social media followers, Kara has recruited three “helpers” — one is a fellow student at The Hartt School, another is in New York City, and the third is in Australia.
Kara is a little surprised by how much “The Site of Style” brand has grown but she’s determined to continue growing it. One of her goals in graduating a semester early is to work on recruiting investors so she can turn “The Site of Style” into a business and, hopefully, a full-time job. She believes that the courses she took and the skills she learned here have prepared her well. She says faculty has been very supportive of her efforts. For example, when she had to file business taxes for the first time for “The Site of Style,” she received advice and guidance from one of her Barney School of Business accounting professors.
Kara also has her training in performance arts management to depend on. “I love working with performers, helping with scheduling events and promotions and helping out at concerts,” she says. While at the University, she worked with Redtail Records, a student-run record label, promoting artists and their recordings and booking shows. She also had an internship at Arts for Art in New York City, where she worked on the nonprofit organization’s social media sites to boost engagement and awareness.
“I would love to be able to go back to New York City after graduation to work. I’m really excited to be able to get out into the real world and get a head start on my career” she concludes.