Sandi Keiser: Reflections on teaching fashion

By Mount Mary University

Posted on June 13, 2017

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Mount Mary’s pioneering fashion program had been in existence for just over a decade when Sandi Keiser joined the ambitious department.

It was exhilarating to be part of the first four-year fashion design program in the nation, she said, and right from the beginning she knew she wanted to make her mark.

“I remember one day lamenting to Elaine Zarse, with whom I shared an office, ‘You and Sister Aloyse (Hessburg) have so many specialties, it’s hard to know where I can make my contribution,’” she said. “It was shortly thereafter that I recognized an opportunity to develop a stronger focus on business challenges and strategies that impact the fashion world. That became an important focus of my tenure.”

“Sandi Keiser has contributed so much to the fashion department, and it will forever be changed by her.”

Hayley Hove, ’17
Fashion Merchandise Management

A former middle school teacher of consumer science, Keiser set about creating coursework for Mount Mary that tackled industry topics such as social responsibility, sourcing and sweatshops, quality assurance and sustainability — topics that remain as keenly relevant as they were 40 years ago.

Kesier would become not only the institutional authority on merchandise management topics, but also a leading voice within the industry. The textbook she has written, “Beyond Design,” is 624 pages and rich with color photography and case studies. She is finalizing a new fourth edition, scheduled for fall. Additionally, she edited “The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Fashion” and has been active in professional associations such as the International Textile and Apparel Association and Fashion Group International.

“If you were willing to try something, you were given the opportunity to do it,” she said of her wide-ranging accomplishments at Mount Mary, which include leading the department for 25 years and developing a study abroad program, exclusively for fashion students, with the Paris American Academy.

As Keiser retires in spring 2017, she looks forward to expanding her creative pursuits. She will teach Japanese shibori dyeing this summer at the Paris American Academy and continue her work when she returns at SK Fiberworks, her new studio in Bay View.

She hopes to find time to write a new book that details the history of fashion, manufacturing and retail in Wisconsin.

“But I want to breathe a little bit before I start,” she said.

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