Berkeley Today Stories

Joan McClutchy Vidargas is a Berkeley College alumna.

Berkeley College Alumna Shifts from Visual Merchandising to Designing Jewelry in Mexico



During her time at Berkeley College, Joan McClutchy Vidargas discovered her passion for visual merchandising and presentation. This led to a fruitful career overseeing the visual displays for major department stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Lord & Taylor.

Ms. Vidargas graduated from Berkeley College’s Fashion Merchandising Program in 1973. She took courses at Berkeley College in East Orange, NJ, to immerse herself in the business of fashion, after attending the Fashion Institute of Technology for a two-year program in Fashion Illustration. “The program gave me the confidence to apply for my first visual job,” she said.

Her professional start came in the form of temporary holiday help in the visual department of Macy’s (then Bamberger’s) in Newark, NJ, where she was quickly promoted to a full-time position at a branch store in Paramus, NJ. After working her way up the corporate ladder in Macy’s central office, she made her way to Bloomingdale’s, followed by Lord & Taylor. In her role as Corporate Visual Merchandising Director there, she oversaw the visual direction for women’s fashion and accessories for more than 70 stores nationally.

After nearly 25 years in the corporate visual display field, Ms. Vidargas relocated with her husband, Ricardo, to his hometown of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, to focus on her new passion: sculpting and selling jewelry. “I wanted to design, create, and sell on my own, and take a break from corporate life,” she said. Among her designs are necklaces using semi-precious stones and crafted bronze footwear.




Up Close with Joan McClutchy Vidargas

What does success mean to you?

Success means making a creative career choice that is inspiring to myself and those who work with me, shaping a path for many talented, young people while working my way up the ladder of my chosen career.

What initially inspired you to enroll in Berkeley College?

Prior to Berkeley College, I was majoring in Fashion Illustration in New York City at a time when fashion art was being replaced by photography. Steady employment in the illustration field appeared to be pretty dim. Berkeley College’s campus near my home was offering a one-year course in Fashion Merchandising, focusing on the more reliable business side of fashion.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?

The courses touched on all aspects of retailing, including visual merchandising and presentation, which I loved immediately and eventually made my career choice. I am now living in central Mexico, where I have been sculpting, creating, and selling jewelry, all based on 25 years of designing props, fixtures, mannequins, and art for retailing.

What advice would you give to college-bound students?

Work hard and soak it all in. There are surprises around every corner that will open your eyes to future career choices if you pay attention.

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?

As part of a course, all students had to present a fashion show with garments, music, models, and the works. I designed and sewed 20 pieces for my show and afterward sold all of them to instructors and fellow students. That was a wonderful and memorable moment.