Undergrads refresh ‘Fashion Cookbook’ with support from Clark’s LEEP Initiative

Patricia DeCarvalho '15 and Hannah Martin '15 Patricia DeCarvalho '15 and Hannah Martin '15

Clark University seniors Hannah Martin '15 and Patricia DeCarvalho '15 — two of this year's LEEP Fellows — have refreshed and branded "The Fashion Cookbook," a fashion and lifestyle blog featuring an image consulting service. The two presented their LEEP Project, "Launching and Branding a Small Business: The Fashion Cookbook," at Clark's annual Fall Fest academic showcase on Oct. 24.

LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark's unique model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences.

Read about 'The Fashion Cookbook' in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette

Martin, who majors in cultural studies and communication, and DeCarvalho, a management major, were among 90 Clark students selected as LEEP Fellows. These students worked closely with faculty mentors, as well as with Clark alumni and organizational partners, on projects of shared interest or leading edge research and analysis. The LEEP Projects span a wide range of academic studies and allow undergraduates to creatively solve problems and apply their knowledge in authentic workplace settings.

Martin started a blog, The Fashion Cookbook, as a venue to document her developing personal style and be able to combine her two interests, cooking and fashion, when she was a junior at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine. During her senior year, she was invited to Teen Vogue's Fashion University in Manhattan because of her blogging efforts. This spring, Martin brought DeCarvalho to another such gathering, Lucky magazine's Fashion and Beauty Blogger (FABB) Conference in Los Angeles, as the two were in the midst of rebranding the blog and incorporating their image consulting business.

With funding from Clark's LEEP Program, the students were able to retain a graphic designer to redesign The Fashion Cookbook site. They also won third place (and $1,000) in an annual contest, Clark's "U-reka: Big Idea Contest," which they put toward improving their product.

The two students were inspired by fashion blogs such as The Chriselle Factor and Sincerely Jules.

"We wanted to also take it a step further to make our blog seem more attainable in terms of the clothing we wear," said Martin. The website shares fashion and beauty "recipes" made up of "ingredients" that are a mix of expensive and lower-priced items.

DeCarvalho and Martin model regularly for the site, however, the two occasionally feature others on their blog. On December 6, Martin featured the men in her family (brother Camden and father Paul) and descriptions of their personal style.

DeCarvalho's journey with fashion began around the age of 16, when she was diagnosed with lymphedema, a condition that causes her right leg to swell to about twice the size of her left. DeCarvalho said that as her condition progressed, she tried to hide in long pants and skirts, and she grew to hate fashion. In 2013, on one of her fashion blogs, she revealed her compression stocking for all to see. Doing so provided her with the confidence to be herself, and she no longer restricts her fashion sense.

DeCarvalho mentioned this in a speech she delivered as part of The Hervey Ross '50, L.H.D. '07 Oratorical Contest this fall; she placed third in the contest and won $150.

The Fashion Cookbook also promotes an image consulting service for the fashion-challenged. Packages vary from $250 for "special occasion" or "career styling" to $800 for a "total transformation." Shari Worthington, the students' mentor and an Entrepreneur-In-Residence in Clark's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program, served as their first client and took advantage of the "developing your personal style" package to refresh her wardrobe.

The Fashion Cookbook is designed "to make fashion accessible and empowering to all." Visit the blog and find links to its Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles; a YouTube channel is in the works.

Forbes has ranked Clark #13 on its list of Most Entrepreneurial Universities.

Learn more about how Clark helps students follow their passions and become entrepreneurs

Angela Bazydlo - Marketing and Communications - Clark University