Kelly Wilcox
Master of Arts in Sustainable Design
Material Manager

What do you do for work?

I am a material manager for a leading sports/fitness footwear and apparel retailer. I am able to combine technical expertise and creative sustainable design thinking into my day-to-day work.

How did you get your job? 

I have a background in fine art and professional experience in the technical aspect of materials/textiles. Going back to school for my master of arts in sustainable design made sense. I wanted to do my job better with less impact and be creative about it! With the skills I gained through MCAD's MA program, I am able to not only improve the way I work in my current job but also help others in different industries unlock new levels of creativity.

Why did you choose to study sustainable design?

Working in the apparel sector, I realized how damaging the industry was and how much sustainable intervention was needed. A cross-collaborative degree in sustainable design, where I could learn from others (students and professors) in different fields working toward common good in creative ways, was a perfect program for helping to take myself and the organizations I work for/partner with to the next level.  

What was the online education like?

It did not feel online at all. A lot of programs (and workplaces) pride themselves on collaboration but don't truly know what that means. The online program at MCAD is mostly asynchronous but the interaction feels real-time (there are also times where we would video chat for group projects). Nothing is done in a silo; it's incredible practice for those in any type of professional setting that requires teamwork and open communication (especially in a digital age). It's incredibly effective and the caliber of instructors and even students you learn with is unmatched.

What was your relationship to sustainable thinking prior to the program? And now?

Sustainable design thinking is injected into everything I do, it's elevated my problem-solving skills in all areas of my life—especially professionally!

Where did you earn your undergraduate degree and what was it in?

Arizona State University, fine art (fibers).

Has your work evolved since leaving MCAD?

It has—I focus much more on process innovation and systems-level innovations and creative intervention here versus the sole focus on creating a sustainable thing or product (i.e. more of a focus on designing new ways to get to that product).

What inspires you?

The natural world, specifically the systems and processes within nature. 

How do you incorporate sustainable thinking into your current practice?

Especially when it comes to materials, it's easy to simplify a sustainable solution, it's a lot harder to dig deeper and fix the "how" we get to the solution instead of jumping immediately to the "what" or tangible, physical thing. Sustainable design thinking allows different ways of working, and the ability to unlock innovation through process—which ultimately leads to new sustainable product.

What advice do you have for current MCAD students?

Leverage your network throughout and after your program! There is a wealth of knowledge and talent at MCAD that spans far beyond the Twin Cities