Rowland School of Business

Focused on Fashion in Pittsburgh: SAEM Alumna is the Founder of Style412 Discussion Series

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pictured is Elysia Purnell, business development associate for Wall-to-Wall Studios and founder of Style 412. | Photo by Shawn Starr

Meet Elysia Purnell-Newman

Job titles: Business Development Associate and Founder
Employers: Wall-to-Wall Studios and Style412
Degree earned: Bachelor of Science in Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management 
Graduated: December 2016
Living in: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Hobbies/interests: Fashion, Branding Design, Katy Perry, Asian Culture plus Gourmet Cheese
Twitter: @elysiapandapgh    
Instagram: @elysiapandapgh
LinkedIn: Elysia Purnell

Elysia was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, "Stylebook snapshot: Style412 discussion series aims to elevate Pittsburgh fashion industry."

"Point Park's custom approach to learning and recognition that each student's needs and goals were different, allowed me to experience the real world in a more authentic way."

-- Elysia Purnell-Newman


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Tell us about the variety of work you do in fashion and design. 

My experience in the creative industry has been all over the place. I have never been one to turn down opportunities which I think has opened the gates and led me to the type of work that I feel most passionate about.

I began in large-scale event planning before transferring to Point Park University, ran an online retail company for two years afterwards and currently work at a branding design firm, Wall-to-Wall Studios, where I facilitate the creative process between clients and designers.

Last May, I founded Style412, which is a 12-month discussion series to audit the Pittsburgh style industry. It's my passion project and contribution towards the fashion scene here, which I've felt has been undervalued since moving here in 2009.

The common thread in all of my pursuits are visual plus experiential — I've always been interested in contributing in ways that challenge the aesthetic norm. My creative role has always been on the production, development and strategy end. Although I'm not a creative per se, I love being around artists and makers. Call me "Type A Creative," if you will. 

What inspired your passion for style and design? 

I’ve always been fascinated by the process of turning an idea into experience … whether it's taken the form of coordinating events for the USA Pavilion at the World Expo in my early career (2010), facilitating the branding design process in my current position, or developing a brand and culture through the intensive grassroots experience as founder of Style412. 

I don’t ever recall my parents telling me what to wear to school, and that largely inspired my exploration with individuality through fashion plus style growing up. This eye for aesthetic evolved into other areas such as design, because I realized how closely related they were and how in tandem, made the world a more visually pleasing place to exist.

Why did you decide to transfer to Point Park University?

I'd previously known about Point Park University through its dance program. It was one of the schools that I was looking to go for dance originally, but after tearing my ACL, I decided to pursue a career in business instead. After going to school in Hong Kong for some time, my interests led to entertainment plus event management specifically, and so when I heard about the sport, arts and entertainment management program at Point Park, I knew it was the one for me!

How has the SAEM program helped you achieve success as a business professional and entrepreneur?

The interpersonal relationships with both peers and instructors were very authentic. I had transferred from The Chinese University of Hong Kong where students were all numbers, no names. Point Park's custom approach to learning and recognition that each student's needs and goals were different, allowed me to experience the real world in a more authentic way.

Do you have a favorite Point Park memory?

I have many.

Waking up (often before I wanted to) and hearing my COPA dorm room neighbor, Paul, singing "Music of the Night" through the walls.

Meeting my first Point Park University friend Anna trapped inside the library on a rainy day, bonding over fashion.

Kissing the exterior walls of Lawrence Hall with a different color lipstick once a day for two weeks. In retrospect it was actually pretty gross, but at the time it was my artistic contribution.

What are your career goals?

To continue growing my experience in marketing and communications, especially in branding design. Everything relates to branding nowadays, so I think taking this approach to design is critical in shaping the visual story of who you are …

To leverage these skills, and continue to assist the community through passion projects such as Style412. I’m going to be in Pittsburgh forever, so I want to help shape and see great things for my city.

To share these professional and life experiences though mentoring — I don’t have all the answers but I think that everyone (myself included) can benefit from having someone who has already been there to call in the middle of the night and ask “glass half empty, or half full?”

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