The Gucci Changemakers North America Scholarship Program was launched in 2019 as an initiative to increase diversity in the fashion and design industries, as well as support undergraduate students with an interest in these fields.
The group of scholarship recipients are awarded financially with a scholarship of up to $20,000 and with mentorship opportunities and programs such as the Gucci Program for Scholars to learn more about working in the fashion industry.
“The fund was created to ensure a new era of diverse and exceptional young people will gain opportunities and experiences across the fashion industry, therefore empowering the youth and giving a voice to the next generation,” said the Gucci Equilibrium website.
Second-year BA Aboubacar Barrie was one of 22 recipients of the Changemaker scholarship this year, selected from 450 applicants. Barrie is the owner of the FORENAIRE clothing brand, which he founded in 2016.
The brand initially focused on creating minimalistic hoodies and now hopes to expand to professional clothing as well.
“An individual who despite all barriers, doubt, inconvenience, circumstances, and injustices, eventually perseveres and tries their very best to become the best version of themselves [is a Forenaire]. A person that fights for the right thing is a Forenaire,” the Forenaire website explains.
Recently, Barrie has expanded his brand to make athletic clothing for athletes wearing a hijab.
Additionally, the Forenaire Cares initiative was launched to support communities both in the United States and abroad. A percentage of profits made from sales of the “Forenaire For Guinea” hoodie were donated to organizations supporting people living in Guinea.
Barrie’s work building his brand over the last few years as both a high school and college student led him to find out about the scholarship.
“I found out about the Gucci Changemaker Scholarship through one of my business and career mentors who introduced me to the opportunity,” Barrie said.
“His name is Mr. Lorenzo Gordon with the Humbl Hustlr Organization. I decided to apply because I felt I met the criteria: an innovator in the fashion/clothing industry.”
The application process for the scholarship consisted of both a written portion and portfolio. Barrie wrote about the question of what progress meant to him and used the portfolio to highlight his brand.
“I submitted photocopies of my ‘FORENAIRE’ brand, including product images, model shots and mock-ups,” Barrie said.
In early April, Barrie found out he had advanced to the finalist round.
“During this round, I had to submit an introductory video explaining who I was and answering one of three questions,” Barrie said. “I chose the option ‘Receiving a financial award from Gucci will be instrumental in my life because…’ In this round, I also had to submit a copy of my college transcript and my financial aid award details.”
On June 21, Barrie found out he had been awarded the scholarship.
After hearing the news, Barrie reached out to some of the other finalists via social media to congratulate one another.
Being a scholarship recipient has helped Barrie in numerous ways beyond the financial component.
“I received valuable mentorship through an internship with Gucci, under the Gucci Program for Scholars. I also made valuable connections with top Gucci Executives whom I still speak to today,” Barrie said.
Looking to the future, Barrie hopes to combine his degree in Business with other interests.
“My plans after college [are] to work at a tech company in a business-related position,” Barrie said. “I would also love to work at Gucci in their marketing or ads positions. Lastly, I’d like to continue working on my brand.”
To learn more about Barrie’s brand, visit forenaire.com/.