Kia Folston ’25 is a Fashion Design major. She is the president of the Black Student Union, the secretary of the Student-Run Gallery, a student ambassador and she works in the Galleries at Moore for her work study position.
This conversation has been edited for length.
Cathy Young: Kia gives me commentary on my outfits, so I always know when I have a good one on when she’s like “OHHH” [laughter]
My favorite comment, which I went home and told my husband about, was the day that you said, “I get it. Monochromatic.”
Kia Folston: Oh yeah I remember that! [laughter]
CY: What’s your commentary on this look? It’s a little fall-ish.
KF: It’s giving Paris in the fall.
CY: I love it.
KF: It’s all brought together by the shoes, because the shoes are like that in-between brown and green.
CY: So what first attracted you to Moore and made you decide to come here?
KF: I was on the Common App and I saw Moore and I was like “what is that?” I had to do a little bit of Googling because I had never heard of it, and I thought it looked really interesting, there were really good majors and minors—it just kept my eye so when I applied and got accepted I was ecstatic.
CY: Did you get to visit the campus before you started?
KF: I did not.
CY: Wow! So you came sight unseen?
KF: Yes! I’m from Virginia, southeastern Virginia, so it’s a six-hour drive. So I didn’t get a chance to come here to visit campus or Open House or anything, I was just going off of what I saw online, on YouTube.
CY: Did you talk to any current students or alumni?
CY: Wow, you are an adventurer!
KF: [laughter] I am!
CY: That’s awesome, well we’re very glad that you landed here.
So I think you’ve shared with me before that you got interested in fashion pretty young?
CY: And you were sewing pretty young, is that right?
KF: I was interested in fashion since I was, like, seven. And around age 11 or 12 I started learning how to hand sew.
CY: Wow, and who was teaching you to hand sew?
KF: My mom! Just basic hand stitches. My mom was very creative, she took shirts that we grew out of and she would stuff the short sleeves with socks and then she put a pillow in it and made them into pillows.
CY: Oh so cute!
KF: It was so cool, she would seam it up and make it into an actual pillowcase, so that’s how I learned.
CY: How do you think your work as a designer has changed in the year and a half you’ve been here?
KF: I feel like I know a bit more about fabric and the industry now. Before I came here and even just last year I was basically only doing fashion sketches, and I really love fashion illustration, it’s beautiful, it’s an art of its own, and that’s what I submitted in my portfolio to come here. But it was really cool working with Dom and Daniel because they’re hands-on in the industry so they know a lot about it.
Also seeing it firsthand last year for the senior show at the Barnes, I worked backstage, and that was really interesting to be right there up close and personal seeing how everything goes. I was thinking how in three years this is gonna be me, and started thinking about what I’ll need to do.
CY: Tell us about an experience you’ve had at Moore that you think has shaped your career path or shaped your goals for the future.
KF: I can’t really pick one particular event, but I would say my entire freshman year. It really showed me what college is all about, showed me what being in art school is about, and what being an adult is like. It also fueled a lot of my ambition, made me hungry for more and better. I feel like every single moment of last year taught me something in a different way.
CY: That’s beautiful.
KF: I feel like that’s what everybody should take away from their college experience, whatever it may be. You should learn something new, whether it be about the world or college or yourself, in a different way every day. That’s life.
CY: What is one major aspect of Moore’s history or legacy that you think will continue to endure and be relevant in the future?
KF: I would definitely say the alumni show. Specifically because I love how it brings people back to what they grew from. I work as an ambassador, and I was here over the summer and our Campus Visit Coordinator at the time, Jasmine Zateeny, was telling me about alumni weekend and said she would like for me to give the tours, and I said I would love to. I met alumni from the classes of 1960-something, through the ’80s, all different years, and it was great! They were telling me about how things used to be. There was one lady, from I think the class of 1966, who took a flight all the way from Barcelona back here just for this particular event. I thought that was incredible. It spoke volumes that she came all that way just to be here for this, just to experience all sorts of alumni, and to feel the work. Seeing the alumni work makes you wonder what it must have been like when they were in school, so it’s also very inspirational, and I think that will leave people thinking for a long time.
Also, our student body themselves. Everybody here is different and quirky and creative in every way possible. It’s insane the things that people come up with—I work in the Student-Run Gallery, so I see what people submit and I just think, “I can’t wait to see when you’re successful in this field.” I feel like the talent of the students will always precede the school itself.
CY: I agree, that was what made me fall in love with Moore when I came here to visit while I was interviewing for this job. I saw the student gallery and the work in the art shop and the alumni show.
KF: At that time I think the Black Artists Exhibition was still on in the Student-Run Gallery.
KF: So you saw some of my work!
CY: I did?!
KF: Yes you did!
CY: I didn’t even know that!
KF: Four of the pieces were mine.
CY: Wow, I didn’t even realize. You’ll have to show me pictures of which ones were yours.
KF: I will!
CY: What’s your big dream for Moore in the future?
KF: Is no tuition an option? [laughter] I’m kidding.
CY: That would be my big dream for Moore! And you know how we get there?
CY: We’d have to raise enough money to make the endowment so large that we have the resources to provide tuition for every student. So that would mean we need major philanthropic input. That’s actually a beautiful goal.
KF: Honestly my goal for Moore in the future is just to be more accommodating to the students. I want it to be a very student-run school, so when everybody looks at Moore they don’t see another institution, they see a school where the students are comfortable and proud to thrive here, as opposed to feeling oppressed by an institution, which I think you would see at a major university.
CY: I think that is so true.
KF: I don’t want the focus to be constantly a stress about finances, I want it to be stress about midterms. [laughter] That’s a stress I can live with, not whether or not I can even attend.
CY: That’s a great dream.
What is your advice for future Moore students?
KF: If you don’t have confidence in yourself, gain it. [laughter] People are not here for no reason. There’s got to be something within you that wants it. Whether it be that degree, an evolution in your own work or a progress within yourself. Something in you has to want something out of this, or you’ll get nothing out of anything. That goes for any school, but my advice to a Moore student is take into account your own talent—don’t blow up your head too big! But believe in yourself and stay consistent. Make time for you mentally but definitely stay on it. Stay on your assignments because the last thing you want to do is go “that can wait” because it can never wait. It can never wait, not with these classes. This is an art school, not a university.
CY: Also, there’s no substitute for time in an artistic process.
KF: Not at all.
CY: You can’t just *snap*
KF: Yep and we do have homework so the same amount of time that you put into class is the same amount of time you have to put out of the class.
CY: What is your advice for me as the new president of Moore?
KF: I don’t know, you’re doing a really great job so far, everybody likes you.
CY: Aw thank you!
KF: Keep being the people person that you are. You’re so engaging and you’re always right there and ready to help and do something about something. That’s what people really love about you, so if you can stay consistent with that, I feel like we’ll really get the ball rolling on things. I feel like you’re a great asset and you’re really helping a lot of people, me included, so keep doing what you’re doing. When you hear there’s need, keep being a superhero.
CY: That’s very good advice Kia, thank you.
Kia Folston headshot by Megan O'Halloran ’25