At Ringling College of Art and Design, it's safe to expect the unexpected and come prepared for just that. Whichever major you decide sparks your interest, the experiences here will always leave you inspired.
Among the many programs that Ringling College offers is Business of Art and Design. This four-year program creates a platform that bridges the disciplines of both design and business management from year one of this major. Ringling Business students are design thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and leaders for creative industries. According to the Business of Art and Design Faculty member Sarita Rene Guillory, she is always exploring new and exciting ways to command the attention of creative minds through real-world projects, “I am constantly strategizing to utilize my network and professional endeavors to enhance the experiences and quality of my classes. My objective is to create additional value for the students through projects that build career-transferable knowledge, skills, and abilities.”
This semester marked the first partnership with Clean the World (CTW) within the Leadership in Creative Environments course, facilitated by Sarita Guillory. CTW focuses on a global revolution to distribute recycled soap and hygiene products while providing appropriate training in an attempt to save lives around the world. Since 2009, Clean the World has distributed more than 53 million bars of soap throughout 127 countries. They have continued to do this by partnering with over 8,000 international hotels and resorts including those located at Walt Disney World, Marriott, and Hilton. Not only is CTW interested in educating people in need, but they have also expanded their educational tools through a new academic-based learning program that launched at the beginning of the semester called the Social Entrepreneurship Experiential Program (SEEP). This program was the basis of this semester’s Leadership in Creative Environments project, and it has proven to be a success. When given the opportunity to participate in this program, Ms. Guillory moved forward with the belief that “the SEEP project aligned with the initiative of the Business of Art and Design Department (and the institution) to enhance the real-world experiences we provide for the students.”
The semester-long SEEP project began when Sarita and her students visited the CTW Headquarters in Orlando, Florida, where they learned about CTW’s business model and marketing techniques while gaining insight into the mission and future expansion plans for their company. Students conducted research beforehand, but the visual impact of their visit left many students feeling empowered. Seeing historic soap galleries, speaking with leadership, and watching 100+ volunteers put together hygiene kits struck a chord.
Following the visit to Orlando, students broke into teams in preparation for the SEEP project. Each group chose a Sarasota based non-profit organization: Turning Point, Harvest House, and Women's Resource Center. The organizations were chosen based on how well they aligned with the mission of both CTW and the SEEP project. Although each student received the same information and tools to guide them through managing this project, it proved to be a bigger task than many initially thought. The goal for this project was to plan a successful event in which people in need could gain awareness of the resources available to them and receive hygiene kits.
Each team was responsible for creatively raising funds for their project, which consisted of emails to local businesses, crowdsourcing, bake sales, word-of-mouth, and marketing through social media and print ads. The creativity that went into executing each of these was extensive and included the creation of email letterheads, Facebook videos, baked goods paired with Boba tea, etc. Efforts were also made to raise money through businesses, and one group received a donation from Sarasota’s Leaf & Lentil.
According to Sarita, her Leadership in Creative Environment class collectively raised $2,826 towards helping three different non-profit organizations in the Sarasota community, which equated to 590 kits. According to student Ankitha Krishnamoorthy, “Being your most authentic self so you can become the most authentic leader” was something embedded in both the class and the project, which made it easier to push through challenges that arose. Students also found it enlightening to learn so much about themselves. The Leadership in Creative Environments class was described as “multifaceted and unique” by Business of Art and Design student, Ellie Winslow because it consisted of so many aspects of leadership while incorporating real-world, hands-on experiences from the beginning to the end of the class.
Working with CTW may have been a pilot run for the company, but the experience captivated each individual who participated, leaving them with unexpected lessons learned that many would have never had the opportunity to get while in a traditional business classroom setting. While this specific partnership was a first, Sarita will continue to seek new, “outside-the-box” opportunities for students who take her Leadership in Creative Environments class.