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Fashion Designer Points to BOCES Program for Career Start

Tori Caffarella, a 2013 graduate from Niagara Falls High School and the Orleans/Niagara BOCES Fashion Design and Interior Decorating Program, says she is grateful to the BOCES program for helping launch her career in Los Angeles.

“I remember my sophomore year in high school we took a field trip to the Niagara Career and Technical Education Center and told our junior year we could learn a trade,” she says. “I was never a fashionable person.  The only time I was ever a fashionista was when I would play with Bratz dolls growing up.  But I knew I wanted to make a change to my clothes.  I always have issues finding tops that fit, pants that fit, anything besides t-shirts that makes me feel comfortable.  If I was feeling like this then other people had to feel like this, right?  So of course I signed up for the Fashion Design Program.” 

Tori says in her two years in the program, she fell in love with sewing. “I got a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of creating a useable, wearable piece out of thread and a yard of fabric.  Our wonderful teacher, Debbie Wilczak, taught us the basics of color theory, sewing, designing, illustration, pattern drafting, altering, etc.  With her guidance and knowledge we would have a three-piece collection at the end of the year.” 

That program helped her to determine that fashion was going to be her career. “I applied to FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising), and got accepted!  That fall I said goodbye to the teacher that sparked my love for fashion, sewing and designing and saying “Hello!” to Los Angeles, California!  Throughout my two years at FIDM there were so many assignments where I said, ‘Hey I know this!’ because Mrs. Wilczak taught it to us.  FIDM taught me the nitty gritty of what Mrs. Wilczak had already shown us.  I was able to fine-tune all of my skills I learned at BOCES and ended up completing another three-piece collection my graduating year.”

After graduating from FIDM, Tori opened her own shop, Lore is Lost, on Etsy. As she gained success, she decided to open her own shop on her own website.  “I now have an inventory full of my own handmade designs and pieces for the world to buy.  I even showcased 10 of my designs in the Islay LA Runway Show.  Next on my list is being a featured designer in Vancouver Fashion Week!”

She is quick to give thanks to where her success all started. “All of this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for BOCES and Mrs. Wilczak.  So if you love fashion, want to dabble in fashion, or learn a lifelong skill, I highly recommend going into the Fashion Design/Interior Decorating Program!”

If you are a junior in high school and interested in being in the Fashion Design/Interior Decorating Program, you can contact Debbie Wilczak at  

Photo Captions:

Tori with two pieces of her collection from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, California.

Photo of model Emilye Merida with a piece from Tori's collection.

 Photo of model Emilye Merida from the fashion collectionfrom her brand Lore is Lost that was showcased at the Islay Urban Fashion Show in Los Angeles in July of 2019. 

Woman standing between two outfits

woman posing on runway

woman posing on runway