Justin Hill is a Senior in the Kelley School of Business majoring in Finance and Business Analytics and Themester's Special Event Manager.
How did you get involved in this year’s Themester?
I received an email advertising the position at a time when I was doing a research project about labor in China. I found the project interesting and I thought the internship would be a good opportunity to explore labor in more depth from the vantage point of an event organizer.
What was your process in organizing the event?
I conceived the idea over the summer and did some preliminary research to determine if it was feasible to create an entire event based on labor in the fashion industry. I met with our internship supervisor in the beginning of the semester to discuss it in more depth and she provided some guidance on possible panelists and venues. I reached out to the Hutton Honors College and the Apparel Merchandising school, both of which were extremely helpful in planning this event, to find panelists and a moderator. Finally, I promoted the event through different channels such as social media, classroom pitches, and posters around campus.
What do you hope students will take away from your event?
I think fair trade is still a niche interest and not all consumers will be interested in supporting the cause. I hope the event promotions were able to reach students interested in learning more about the topic and make an educated decision as to whether they would be an advocate. When thinking about small producers, every sale matters and ripples across the producing community in a different way than most Americans think about. So while the event was intended to provide education about fair trade, hopefully that converts into some sales for producers in developing economies.
What does labor mean to you?
I'm still developing my definition of labor, although being a part of Themester has certainly evolved my ideas. I came across a quote from Brunello Cucinelli, an Italian fashion designer, talking about tailors. "We need to give moral and economic dignity back to this kind of craft. Say you are a tailor. If you earn $1,200 a month, you are sort of ashamed to say that that’s your trade, because that’s the culture. We have to do the opposite. It should be that if someone sees you are a tailor, they say, 'Oh, you are plying a very great trade, the tailor.' That’s the moral dignity I’m talking about."
I think people should apply that concept to every job, from McDonalds to hedge fund managers and everything in between. We're a long way from that, but that's my current mindset.
What was your first job?
I started washing dishes on Saturdays and Sundays in a breakfast restaurant when I was a Sophomore in high school. I was really proud of the job when I started, but after one weekend, it quickly lost its luster. I stuck with it and eventually was promoted to the kitchen. I cooked breakfast for two years at that restaurant and I still make a damn good omelette today.
You can find more Themester events organized by Justin at http://themester.indiana.edu