The Board Members
It started with a conversation about the community, and evolved into a curriculum for the culture. Even our name was chosen because it ties into, both, culture's love of fashion, and, our mission to make education, just as cool as--things like fashion and music! Organized as a not-for-profit corporation, Education Couture, is a corporation, working for the collective refashioning, of the way, we, as a culture, view learning and reading. Everybody reads. Everybody succeeds...and our goal is to do it all stylishly. Because, at Education Couture, the most in fashion thing to do is learn. Educating oneself is always fashionable!
Autumn Dennard-Merritt, is a Howard University Graduate, with a B.B.A in Marketing. Never one to waste time, she began her college tenure in DC paying dues as a grass roots promotions representative, ultimately landing a position at Universal Music & Video Distribution as a College Lifestyle & Marketing Representative. Upon graduation, Autumn focused her efforts on further penetrating the Fashion Industry in Chicago. Her experiences in management, wholesale buying & selling, and visual merchandising prepared her for her greatest undertaking of all, the creation of a men's and women's brand and boutique, Sir & Madame (formerly Solemates...Chicago), which she opened with her husband in 2007. Surpassing the critical ten year mark, Autumn is now witnessing the payoff of her marketing and brand strategy efforts. The proper positioning of her brand has afforded collaborations with Japanese Skin Care brand Shiseido and HBO, in addition to features in The New York Times, Uptown Magazine, Details and Huffington Post. And most recently, it resulted in a partnership with Honda Civic. In addition to making sure her family of four and business are intact, she is a contract events manager, having worked with powerhouse brand Nike on several activations in the Chicagoland area. She is currently--showing the world that taking on many hats is mere child's play--rocking her role, as Soho House Chicago, Membership Manager.
Briahna Gatlin is an established urban journalist on the cutting edge of Hip Hop, Rap, R&B and all other forms of music. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Magazine Journalism with over 6 years of experience in writing for Source Magazine, Mass Appeal Magazine, XXL Magazine and Red Eye Tribune as well as other print and online publications. Briahna has participated in various internships throughout the country including VIBE Magazine. She has written pieces ranging from biographies to concert reviews, feature articles and interviewed an array of signed and unsigned artist within the music industry. Briahna is a former executive associate of True Star Magazine and served as the Editorial Director for True Star Magazine and Scream Star Magazine, creating and building a brand that has become prominent among the teen demographic within Chicago. Along with this leadership role she was instrumental in creating the concept, content and personality of the publication as well as leveraging various relationships including Warner Bros., Atlantic Records, Jive Records, Sony BMG, Interscope, Island Def Jam as well as other local and national corporations in the publications success. Briahna has over 6 years of grant writing experience in the non-profit sector and also participates as an Instructor in After School Matters Organization for teens. The founder of Swank PR based in Chicago, she has worked with various clients since opening the doors of her Public Relations firm. Working with notable clients that include G.O.O.D Music artist GLC, Mic Terror, (Jay-Z, Lebron James, Rich Paul),Stevie Williams, Hennessy Black, PHLI Worldwide, Lupe Fiasco Foundation, Raekwon, King Louie, Chrisette Michelle, Sway Calloway (MTV), New Era Cap Brand, Complex Magazine, YRB Magazine, Mos Def, The Shrine Chicago, Chicago Bears Kahlil Bell, The Boy Illinois, Notable Producers Christian Rich, Red Stripe, Platinum Producers Da Internz, Naledge of Kidz in The Hall, Grey Goose, & Actress Tiffany Torrence-Davis (Oxygen BGC3).
The founding board member of Education Couture Inc, Ruckiya Ross is a mentor and most importantly a child of God. For nine years, Ruckiya spent the better part of her time providing speech-language therapy to a varying population of Chicago Public School students. It was during this time, working with both the general education students, but moreover the special diverse learner population of the student body, that she realized the unique need to develop a program that would engage the nontraditional learner. This is where the idea for the Education Couture Model was born. Upon being laid off... She, along with the other valuable team members, got to work on developing a program that would bring learning, or rather the desire to learn, back into fashion. Hence, the name Education Couture--making the acquisition of education stylish. In addition to this, she is also a founding member of the the now-dissolved, award-winning company August Bloom. A haute (high style) floral design company that received many awards for their cutting edge floral fashions, including winning Best in Show at Garfield Park Conservatory's Inaugural Competition Fleurotica Fashion Show. The first-ever winners. The company was also featured in many publications including CS, Today's Chicago Woman, Uptown, and Nationally-distributed ESSENCE magazine. Her floral fashion designs were also featured on ABC 7 Chicago news. Over the years, Ruckiya has been led by her passion to create, first with August Bloom, and now with Education Couture. She is looking to inspire passion and excitement in learning, encourage the mastery of literacy, and promote positive social emotional health in every child. And she just wants to do it all with a bit of style.