Each day last week, I featured a different college student from UW-Madison's Moda Magazine after attending their fashion show. It made me think of my time at school when Mia Hanekamp founded Moda. Mia and I moved to New York City around the same time after graduation, and it's been cool to see what she's been up to through social media.
Since my experience away from the Midwest was such an interesting time for myself, I often think about other people who have left the Midwest and what their experiences are like. I decided to launch a new series called "Midwest Expat" where I chat with a Midwesterner who has moved elsewhere to see how their Midwest is showing. Who better to kick things off than Mia Hanekamp herself?
My Midwest Is Showing: Where do you work, and what does your job entail?
Mia Hanekamp: I work for Victoria's Secret in Digital Merchandising on the bras team. My team manages bras and bralettes on the site. I work on the landing page art and linking, setting up the product pages, site offers, and reading data on site performance.
MMWIS: You graduated from UW-Madison. What was your major, and how has it helped in your career?
MH: My major at UW-Madison was Strategic Communication in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication. My major has mostly helped my career with communication, multitasking, professional skills and behaviors, and speaking in front of and reporting out data to colleagues.
MMWIS: What inspired you to start Moda Magazine when you were in school? Do you still check it out? Are you still involved in any way?
MH: What most inspired me to start Moda Magazine while I was studying at UW was a seeming lack of focus on the fashion side of the art world in Madison. Madison's artistic culture is so unique and special, yet there was seemingly little connection between the city and the university in this sense. From article pitching to model casting and design presentations we learned quickly that there was a thriving fashion and design culture in the city and we were so eager to bring that awareness to the student population and help spread the word about how incredible Madison is.
I'm no longer a part of the magazine, but I remain an avid reader! I'm continuously blown away by the quality of editorial and design and production that Moda embodies.
MMWIS: What is your hometown, and where do you live now?
MH: My hometown is Naperville, Illinois, about 30 miles west of Chicago; my residence is currently the West Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. (I think... or maybe it's Hell's Kitchen, I don't really know.)
MMWIS: What do you miss most about the Midwest? What don't you miss?
MH: I miss Chicago hot dogs more than you can ever imagine. However, huge shoutout to Mess Hall in Harlem for making a killer knockoff. I miss the Old Fashioned on the Capitol Square for giving me my first tastes of whiskey; I miss my parents' rooftop in the West Loop; I miss trips to Cookie Dough Creations in Naperville with my brother and cousins on summer nights; I miss Badger games and cheese curds and Nitty Gritty Power Hour. Also, the hummus plate at Coffee Bytes, those were the best pre-Vilas lecture lunches.
What don't I miss? Maybe scraping ice off my car's windshield in the winter (somehow preferable to trekking up 8th Avenue in a foot of snow); maybe the SNL-impression-worthy Chicago and Wisconsin accents; maybe needing to fly hours just to reach a coast.
MMWIS: Favorite thing about where you live now?
MH: My favorite thing about my current neighborhood is my proximity to the water. Growing up in the Chicago area made me so spoiled in the sense that a quick drive to the city, or either of my parents' hometowns, led straight to Lake Michigan.
MMWIS: How does your Midwest show in your new location?
MH: My Midwest shows most in my life now when I'm out with my dog, Penny, chatting with our neighbors. She's a 3-year-old Pomeranian-Pug mix with the biggest smile. When we're out walking in Chelsea or Hell's Kitchen, we love stopping to chat with other dog owners in the neighborhood. New York is such a great dog city, and I love meeting neighborhood dogs and their humans!