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From Radiography to Fashion: Alumna Tammy Duffy
Debuts Line During New York Fashion Week

9/12/11


West Windsor, N.J. - For Tammy Duffy, Ph.D., '86, (A.A.S., Radiography), no obstacle is insurmountable. Challenges only fuel her determination to succeed. A true Renaissance woman, Duffy has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as a radiological technologist, radiation health physicist and sales executive. She has also made her mark as a painter and photographer and, most thrillingly at present, as a fashion designer. This weekend, Duffy's cutting-edge women's wear designs for spring 2012 will be among the featured collections in a presentation at the Waldorf Astoria as part of Couture Fashion Week in New York City.

It is a dream come true for Duffy, who is making her debut in the fiercely competitive world of haute couture in one of the world's fashion capitals. "I am still pinching myself," said Duffy, who creates her fashions from her Hamilton studio and launched her line earlier this year. "Creating lovely apparel for women is a joy."

Her fashion collection will also be featured in a Luxury Review show on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at the Metropolitan Pavilion. (Details here.) The guest list for this event includes members of the media, product analysts, product placement professionals, television and film executives, personal shoppers, stylists and affluent consumers.

Duffy credits her mother, who made all of her daughter's clothes when she was young, as her first sewing teacher. Later Duffy took classes in New York and online and pursued opportunities in the Big Apple with dogged determination.

Tammy Duffy '86

"It was good luck and good intuition, and the help of a great friend who has amazing connections in the industry," Duffy said. "From networking over the years, I have watched many designers launch lines and have learned a lot about what to do and not to do."

Her foray into the fashion world began 12 years ago when she branched out from painting as a hobby after the death of her father, an avid painter. The hobby that they shared had been just what she needed to balance a successful, yet demanding career in the medical world.

The Steinert High School grad says she was originally drawn to radiography because she wanted to help people. After graduating from Mercer, she worked as a radiological technologist/CT scan technologist at Mercer Medical Center and Freehold Hospital. Returning to school, she earned a bachelor's degree in Advanced Radiation Science from Thomas Jefferson University in 1991, a master's in Radiation Science in 1996, and a Ph.D. in Health Physics in 1998 from Pacific Western University.

"Mercer was a great place to get my start," Duffy said. Working full-time right out of high school to pay her way through college, Duffy found it easy to get work in her field and to transfer her credits. "Mercer more than prepared me to excel on the undergraduate and graduate school levels. I particularly remember Professor Bob Pugh. He is a tremendous leader and inspiration even to this day. At Mercer, there was a real sense of 'we want to make sure these kids excel.'"

Duffy's impressive resume in the field continued to grow. In later jobs, she was a radiation health physicist at Bio-Med Associates, Inc., in Flemington, a radiological equipment sales, training and support manager, a senior interventional radiology modality leader for Fortune 500 companies, and a director of operations and marketing consultant for small start-up companies.

Her experience in the small business industry proved especially useful as Duffy began to build her fashion business from the ground up. Networking proved essential. Traveling to various art, photography and fashion shows after her regular work day, she met many influential people, including the late fashion photographer Samuel Haskins. Informing him that she had submitted her portfolio to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week ten times previously, he encouraged her to keep it up.

Duffy notes that she was also inspired by a memorable conversation. While attending a professional fashion organization meeting, Duffy shared her fashion aspirations with a board member. "The board member told me, 'You are too old to make a career change; stick to your day job,'" Duffy recalls. "That statement really bothered me. I find when I am annoyed, I do my best work and thrive on that energy. With my business sense, I thought, 'Why not take the plunge?' I have not regretted it."

With the launch of MCCC's new Fashion/Apparel Design program this fall, Duffy looks forward to sharing her experiences and knowledge with MCCC students. "As you traverse through the industry, you cannot succeed alone," she emphasizes. "Keep strong people around you. Relationships in business are everything. Notice opportunities in disguise and embrace them. Think out of the box and create your own destiny."

To view some of Duffy's fashions online, click here.


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