FCS students hit Rock Bottom for real-world studies

RockBottom FTWBy Ashley Pereyra

The dates are set.

At the end of this month, Brittney Corley, a 2006 Baylor graduate with a degree in fashion merchandising, and Dr. Rochelle R. Brunson, a Family and consumer sciences professor, will bring the classroom to the workplace.

Brunson’s students will experience what it is like to work and deal with problems in a real business environment.

“I just feel the students need to be out,” Brunson said. “You know, [the] classroom is wonderful and that is where they learn the basics. But a lot of things need another skill as well.”

Corley, who is the owner of Rock Bottom Boutique in Waco, moved to Waco from College Station in 2009 with her husband.

“The story behind the opening was a very rushed process. I started considering it in September and looking for a place in October. Within a couple of weeks, we settled on my original location downtown on Austin Avenue And within six weeks, we were up and running. It was total chaos,” Corley said.

Soon after opening her store on Nov. 13, 2009, Scott Bryant, a lecturer in the accounting department , approached Corley about having his class work with her store.

“He came to me initially, asking if he could use my store to run hand in hand with giving an example to students. Afterwards it was one class after another and it kind of evolved,” Corley said.

Brunson first met Corley on a site visit when one of her students interned at Rock Bottom Boutique two years ago. A few months later Brunson approached Corley again. This time it was for her Visual Merchandising and Promotion class. At first, she wanted her students to get work experience on creating front window displays.

“Brittney at Rock Bottom has been exceptionally open for us to do that and it’s been good for the students. Some of things they also do — instead of displaying and even merchandising — everything, the colors, what is the floor, what types of wood are used, what kind of fixtures, what lighting is used,” Brunson said. “They learn what lighting is best, which is the most flattering, where you should put spots. Back and forth. It’s a big picture.”

But last semester, the relationship expanded with Brunson’s Merchandise Buying and Assortment Planning class. Brunson asked Corley to print out vendor and sales reports from the last year for her students.

“They could look at specifics with fresh eyes,” Brunson said. “She sees it all the time. But it was a good project for them to be able to see that maybe some of these vendors we shouldn’t go back to.”

Brunson’s classes are also scheduled to visit Target, Liberty Brand and Spice Village. Her classes are a part of the apparel merchandising undergraduate degree.

Merchandise Buying and Assortment Planning will be a required course for the degree starting fall 2014.

Brunson said she encourages her students to have internships with varied experiences in their field but suggests that sometimes smaller stores are a better fit.

“I’ve worked in big stores and small stores. A lot of the time in small ones, you can learn more because you can ask questions of the owner,” Brunson said.

Corley offers internships to students of any major, but focuses more specifically on fashion merchandising.

Corley said she believes any experience working in a store is valuable for both the store and the intern.

“For me, it’s a younger perspective. I don’t consider myself old by any means but I am very out of the loop as far as what is cool, what people like and the venues to draw them in,” Corley said.

Rock Bottom Boutique is located at 4700 Bosque Blvd. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/RockBottomBoutique.