Alum Julian Woodhouse '12 on Next in Fashion show

Tommies on TV: Designer Weaves Connections for What’s Next in Fashion

There are more than 120,000 alumni in the Tommie Network. Among them is alumnus Julian Woodhouse '12 who says he received tremendous support from other University of St. Thomas alumni as he started his fashion design company.

Just ask him about the value of the Tommie Network and he’ll rattle off a long list of St. Thomas alumni who he says were beneficial to connect with through the years.

On his list are entrepreneurs Kamal “Minneapple” Mohamed '12 and LJ Stead '11, co-founders of JuiceBot, a vending machine that dispenses fresh juice combinations into a bottle – they have since sold the company and started other businesses.

“I was really inspired by their journey,” Woodhouse said. So, he reached out to them for advice when he was forming a nondisclosure agreement to obtain a patent for his fashion app Stack, which customizes garments and footwear.

Julian Woodhouse speaks about how the Tommie Network supported him as he used his degree in international business to build his career in fashion.

“Kamal was really pivotal in my journey as a businessperson,” Woodhouse said. “He introduced me to the company that did my first patent.”

The idea for Stack, Woodhouse added, came to him while he was appearing as a contestant on the Netflix series “Next in Fashion,” competing with other up-and-coming designers to impress expert judges.

The very fashionable Woodhouse, who now lives in Los Angeles, has long had a penchant for wanting to design clothes to fit his personal style.

“I majored in international business and that degree literally changed my life,” said Woodhouse, who had been an active leader on campus, including being in ROTC, a staple at Common Ground, and dancing for the Pulse team.

Pulse yearbook photo - St Thomas 2010
Julian Woodhouse was a dancer with the Pulse team when he was an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, as pictured in this yearbook image.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the Opus College of Business at St. Thomas, he moved to Korea while stationed in the military, but stayed in touch with several other Tommies.

“The things I love about the St. Thomas network is there is a lot of connectivity and mutual support from different people,” he said.

Rebecca Luebbert, director of alumni engagement at St. Thomas, isn’t surprised to hear about Woodhouse’s view of the strength of the Tommie Network.

“This expansive community of Tommies is a source of unwavering support, eagerly offering guidance, mentorship, and encouragement to both fellow alumni and current students,” she said.

Julian Woodhouse
St. Thomas alumnus Julian Woodhouse was the first Black fashion designer to show at Seoul Fashon Week.

As for Woodhouse, he beamed while discussing the emotional and spiritual support he received from other alumni as he built his side hustle in the fashion industry and became the first Black fashion designer to show at Seoul Fashion Week.

“That success led me to show at New York Fashion Week several seasons in a row,” he said. He was even featured in Vogue, The New York Times and Forbes, among other media outlets.  

“Julian is a true genius, an inspiration, and one of my most cherished friends,” said alumna Lauren (Miller) Ash ’10, an entrepreneur and the creator of Black Girl in Om, a meditation space and wellness brand for Black women. “Julian encouraged me to launch my brand Black Girl in Om when I was feeling excited, yet still hesitant and uncertain. His faith in me, and belief in where my initial vision would take me, was the nudge I needed. I thank God for him.”

Julian Woodhouse (right) with Lauren Miller Ash
Julian Woodhouse (right) with alumna Lauren Miller Ash

Ash and Woodhouse have found continued support in one another for over a decade.

“We connect on professional stuff, we pray together and support each other,” Woodhouse said. “And that is what I love about the St. Thomas community; there is a lot of connectivity and mutual support.”

“Spanning across the globe, the reach of Tommies knows no bounds,” Luebbert added. “Our alumni have diverse journeys filled with invaluable lessons, remarkable victories, and transformative challenges. The lifelong connection to the University of St. Thomas fuels a collective dedication to the common good, driving positive change in our local, national, and global spheres."

Woodhouse said he is appreciative of the support he has received from the Tommie Network.

“I’m really grateful to have come from the university; I’m really grateful to have connected with the people I have connected to,” he said.

The Tommie Network provides important opportunities for networking and mentorship for all alumni. Some meet in smaller groups, whether within their city or region spread out across the U.S., as well as by affinity group, such as the recently launched Alumni Qmmunity and BIPOC Network groups. The smaller group networking is a way for alumni to share experiences and build deeper bonds.

“We celebrate and embrace the rich diversity of our alumni community, making connections through identity- and interest-based affinity groups,” said St. Thomas alumni program manager Lilly Mokamba, adding that the groups are an environment "where we can learn and grow together.”

Julian Woodhouse on Next in Fashion
Julian Woodhouse appeared on season one of the Netflix reality show Next in Design.

Woodhouse wants to pay it forward. He says anyone in the Tommie Network can connect with him on Instagram at julian_woodhouse. “If you need some help or need some connections, I’m your guy.”

St. Thomas recognizes that every alumni journey is unique and filled with lessons, victories, challenges and accomplishments. These stories can serve as inspiration to other Tommies. Alumni are invited to share their “Tommie Moment” -- a story about their career journey, campus experiences, advice for current Tommies or something else meaningful to you that might inspire others. Share here.