AMES, Iowa — Former Plymouth County 4-H’er Caine Westergard always had dreams of becoming a fashion designer and credits a large part of her success to the nine years she spent in 4-H. Westergard, Akron, graduated from Iowa State University this May with a degree in apparel, merchandising and design and will be moving to Wisconsin this summer to join the women’s clothing design team at Lands’ End.
Westergard was a member of the State 4-H Council, Northwest Area 4-H Council and Plymouth County Council. She also was a National 4-H Congress candidate and the 2009 Iowa State Fair Queen.
“Through the 4-H program I was able to work with fabrics and practice sewing by the time I was in fourth grade,” said the 4-H veteran. “And even before fourth grade my mom and my grandma both knew how to sew, so for me it was just kind of a natural thing. But 4-H gave me the opportunity to take those skills and start sketching and putting outfits together, and really understand how an outfit works together.”
Westergard also said that 4-H is how she became aware that Iowa State University had a textile program for apparel design, “It just made sense to choose to study at Iowa State for their apparel design program because of my experience with 4-H.”
During her time as a student at Iowa State, Westergard had the opportunity to study abroad and hold an internship in Paris, where she worked back stage at six different fashion shows during the Spring 2012 Paris Fashion Week. She also was selected to be a featured designer in Omaha Fashion Week, the fifth-largest fashion week in the nation, for Fall 2012 and both Fall and Spring 2013. She has interned at Abercrombie and Fitch headquarters and has created dresses that were auctioned off to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In the 2014 Iowa State University Fashion Show, Westergard was awarded first place in the special occasion category for a dress she created while abroad that she made by only using fabric pieces in the shapes of squares and triangles.
All while keeping up with her studies and being an active member in her sorority; Westergard has launched her own clothing lines, Caine by Caine Westergard and Cuddles by Caine. All of her creations and collections can be found on her website
Every year, Westergard donates “4-H Onesie” baskets featuring handmade onesies for newborns from her infant clothing line, Cuddles by Caine, to the annual Iowa 4-H Foundation Gala. Even during her time at school she said she would try and volunteer for 4-H as much as she could.
Her knowledge of fashion design isn’t the only thing Westergard is grateful of gaining through 4-H. She also met her now-fiancé, Tym Wood, when they were both members of State 4-H Council. Wood proposed to Westergard on stage as she was modeling a wedding gown at the 2014 Iowa State Fashion Show. The two are in the midst of their wedding plans, but Westergard has decided she is going to design and make her own gown.
Looking down the road, in the next five years Westergard hopes to be established in a company with an associate designer title, while continuing with her own collections. “Ultimately, I hope to one day own my own clothing line that donates a portion of its proceeds to help impoverished women and children worldwide,” said Westergard.
“I owe a lot to 4-H,” she said. “I couldn’t have gotten to where I am or become the person that I am today without it.”