Students You Should Know: Zach Owens

There's no way of "sneaking" past the fact that UNI junior Zach Owens, a textiles and apparel major, loves designing sneakers. He's taking his next steps at UNI towards becoming part of the textiles industry.

Zach Owens
Annette Lynch, professor in the Textiles and Apparel Program, discusses a design with Owens.

Owens first began loving shoes in high school. "Seeing other people's designs on Nike Dunks and in sneaker books inspired me to start designing sneakers."

Once every few months he takes a couple of hours to sketch out a design, then color in a pair of shoes. "I want to use my UNI education to own a sneaker line and move onto a clothing line, or vice versa. That's my dream. Working in a major clothing business would also be exciting."

Faculty at UNI have helped Owens start achieving his dreams. Annette Lynch, Sharon Mord and Kay Weller are a few among the many who have guided him along his way to a brighter future.

UNI's Study Abroad Center and Textiles and Apparel Program (TAPP) worked together to find an amazing opportunity for Owens. He will be spending eight weeks this summer interning at Ecco, a high-class shoe company in China. This will help him get a foot in the door of the sneaker industry.

When he's on campus, Owens likes to look at people's shoes. "Since I started looking at shoes on the Internet, I can recognize the different shoe brands that people wear."

He's involved in the Black Student Union and Ethnic Student Promoters. "In order to have a true college experience, you need to be involved. Just being a student isn't enough because you don't get to meet other people."

Owens spends his free time doing things that inspire him. He is an avid Tumblr and YouTube fan, and he also likes to find new music to listen to. "I get inspired by pictures, and then I base the colors [for my sneakers] off of them."

He also designed two dresses for this year's TAPP fashion show. Last year, he also started customizing jean and leather jackets with studs and spikes as an enjoyable way of making a little extra cash.

"What I like best about my major is the freedom to be creative. Any idea can be used for something. They don't get thrown away."

Owens's mantra is: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." With a family who motivates and encourages him, a UNI education and an Ecco internship under his belt, Owens is achieving his dreams.