Fashion inspiration can be found anywhere for Union High School student Zoë Jackson. Wanting to turn inspiration into action, she began putting ideas to paper and practicing hand sewing at home using found materials — but she felt limited in her designs without access to more creative resources. Enter WMCAT’s tuition-free Teen Arts + Tech Program.

WMCAT’s fashion design studio offered Zoë just what she wanted. She learned to sew on a machine, she gained a professional teaching artist as a mentor, and — even though she was conscious of the teen artists with more experience — she had peers to work with and learn from. Zoë took a posture of curiosity, checking in with other students in her studio for feedback. She’d ask, “Oh, does this look good? Do I need to change anything?” and offer her insight back to them, too.

Zoë works at sewing machine in the fashion design studio of WMCAT’s Teen Arts + Tech Program.

All of this, combined with a studio full of textiles, dyes, thread, and more, unleashed Zoë’s creativity. “The fact that there are resources right there waiting for me to just go and use them, it makes me feel really, really happy,” she says.

Zoë (back row, third from right) models her sustainability-inspired avant-garde design alongside her peers at WMCAT’s spring fashion show.

At the end of her first year at WMCAT, Zoë’s fashion designs — which she put to paper earlier in the semester — came to life as she walked the runway in her original piece during the studio’s annual fashion show at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

Now, when inspiration strikes, Zoë has the knowledge, resources, and support she found at WMCAT to make creative inspiration a reality with her own two hands.

Learn more at