The Department of Merchandising, Apparel & Textiles (MAT) in the school of Human Environmental Sciences (HES) prepares students for careers in the global retail industry. The major is designed for those who are interested in pursuing careers in merchandising and retailing after graduation. To this end, Merchandising Strategy Analysis (MAT 414) teaches students how a product is developed from conceptualization to shelf. This process consists of conceiving and designing a product, producing it, marketing it to the public, and selling it to store buyers and/or individual buyers.

Scarlett Wesley, assistant professor in the MAT department, teaches the course and recruited Pomegranate, Inc. as an inspiration for the students. Pomegranate is headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, and features table linens, kitchen accessories, and quilted bags and totes. Known for its cheerful and distinctive prints, Pomegranate products can be found in over 2,000 specialty gift shops and department stores, and has been a successful business for the past 15 years.

In the beginning stages of the project, students had to familiarize themselves with the company's unique fabric collection and aesthetic. The end product-a theme board-was to keep the "flavor" of the company and be in agreement with products already offered. Steps in this process included learning the mission, strategy, and target market of Pomegranate, coming up with inspirational ideas to translate onto theme boards, designing a collection of six products with at least three original fabric prints, and presenting the final theme board and marketing plan to Pomegranate employees for possible inclusion in their Spring 2010 product line.

"MAT 414 is a capstone class in the program," Wesley said, "but with Pomegranate allowing us to use their company as a platform for our projects, the students have gotten to experience a more real-world process. After completing the course, they will have gone through the same procedure a company like Pomegranate goes through when developing a product to sell. Students can take these lessons with them when they go out into the work world."

Theme boards created by students include "Picking Posies," "Freshly Cut," "Whimsical Forest," and "All Aboard." Students worked in groups of 2-3 to create each proposal and to design the fabric, which could also include the official University of Kentucky plaid pattern. To learn more about Pomegranate, go to