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Helen Zengchen, Production Management Alum

As a teenager, Helen Zengchen watched her mother run a factory in Chinatown. She says she learned that “everybody has to work together. Some people do the cutting, some do collars, some the seams. Every department has a shipping schedule, and if you miss a day, you can lose a month. Your brain has to run fast. Once your brain stops, your factory stops.”

She put this knowledge to good use—after earning her AAS in Fashion Merchandising Management, she started up an apparel factory in Brooklyn. “My siblings and friends borrowed money to help me get started. I had about 30 people— sewers, a presser, different operators. At the same time, I was taking care of my son, Tim, who was still a baby,” she says. “Once, I didn’t sleep for three days and three nights. But after six months, I paid everyone back. After two years, I left, and I had enough to rest for six months.”

After graduating with her BS in Production Management, she got a job as a as a global sourcing manager. She calls it her “dream job,” but says she would also like to “set up a nonprofit to help career women who are single mothers. I know how tough that is.”

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