After a decade, outstanding apparel and merchandising grad finds the perfect fit studying product development

Jared Tarzian leaning against a black wall.

Growing up in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Jared Tarzian never thought he would attend Colorado State University. But it was the apparel and merchandising major and product development concentration in the Department of Design and Merchandising that eventually won him over and shaped his unique blend of analysis and creativity.

Finding product development

Tarzian is a non-traditional-aged student and began his degree at CSU when he was ten years out of high school.

“Looking back, it’s kind of surprising that I ended up at CSU, for I was always adamantly against attending as a teenager,” said Tarzian, who was surrounded by classmates heading to CSU after high school. “What ultimately ended up bringing me here after years of stubbornness was the Department of Design and Merchandising.”

As a child, Tarzian was always interested in fashion because of the influence of his mom and grandmothers. He never thought it was a realistic career option until he found CSU’s product development concentration and he said that “everything clicked.”

“As a highly analytical person, I saw product development as the key to bridging my desire for creative expression with my love for problem solving,” said Tarzian.

Support of professors

Jared Tarzian talking with a professor in a formal setting
Tarzian has relied on the support of his professors to help him thrive.

Tarzian credits his professors with giving him feedback that helped him learn to let things go as he struggled with perfectionism and always feeling he had to give 110%. After spending hours on a little assignment that should have taken him 30 minutes, he said his instructor pointed out that he should focus on going all out for things that really matter.

“For whatever reason it hit me like a ton of bricks, I never realized I could just downshift to 80%, it was like being given permission to not be perfect,” Tarzian said. “As simple as it sounds, it is something that will likely stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Tarzian also was able to participate in research projects during his time at CSU, crediting his employment as a research assistant as one of the greatest sources of growth as a student and a person.

“Not only have I been able to exercise my analytical thinking skills, but I’ve also developed a newfound passion for research,” he said. “Through the experience and the tutelage of my mentor Professor Terry Yan, I’ve carved out a potential path for my future that I never would have imagined.”

Accessible design

A layout of Tarzian's design: a white, sleeveless button up shirt
A graphic with one of Tarzian’s designs.

For his capstone project, Tarzian created a line of adaptive clothing for wheelchair users that incorporated darts to alter the fit of the pants and the cropped jacket to maximize mobility and comfort.

The task for the student projects was to identify a specific population or target market of people in need of adaptive clothing and then research that market including solutions and competitors. Tarzien’s design captured First Place for Inclusive Design when seniors showcased their research and prototypes at the end of fall semester.

Tarzian said of his project, “It was a grueling four-month process, and I was on the verge of giving up multiple times, but I persisted, and it became the crowning achievement of my time at CSU. I am extremely proud of the work I produced and the way I was able to reframe my approach to apparel design and development.”

‘Amazing faculty’

Tarzian says he will miss his professors and his peers in the program and the friendships he built at CSU.

“I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support during my time at CSU and I am deeply grateful for the amazing faculty members in Design and Merchandising who have pushed me to become who I am today,” he said.

An aerial view of a convention of people sharing and talking about their fashion designs
Tarzian (center, brown shirt) sharing his designs with other students.

Being a decade older than many other students, he entered skeptical that he would establish meaningful relationships with other students. After three years in the program, he noted, “not only have I gained new friends, but I’ve been able to learn from my peers and grow as a person.”

In the short term, Tarzian is searching for a job that will use his creative and analytical skills.  Long term hopes include becoming a parent and opening a florist shop in the countryside of Ireland. Whatever blossoms from these ideas, Tarzian is optimistic about a fantastic future applying the lessons he learned at CSU. And he is grateful for those who helped him earn his degree.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have had the support of my family, friends, and professors during the pursuit of my degree,” said Tarzian.

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.