Ambition pays off: Gucci and Polimoda award student’s fundraising campaign

How Elisa Van Barneveld earned a scholarship for the Master in Fashion Retail Management


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When 24 year old Dutch citizen Elisa van Barneveld was refused a student loan from the bank, she took matters into her own hands. The seeds of her determination first set root in September 2017, when Polimoda and Gucci announced the launch of the joint Master’s in Fashion Retail Management.

Elisa, who has already completed her studies in Fashion and Branding at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, sent in her application and brilliantly passed the selection test, becoming one of the 15 students admitted to the highly competitive graduate program’s first edition. Clouds appeared ahead as soon as Elisa began to search for funding but she did not let this bump in the road tamper with her ambition, resorting to crowdfunding to fulfill her dreams.

“I had two choices, give up or find another way to finance this master and fight for my dream – that’s why I started this donation page.” Her Help me go Gucci campaign on GoFundMe states “Since I’ve been admitted, I work 6 to 7 days a week and am also a freelancer after working hours. My aim is to find 3.700 people who are willing to donate €5!”

Her farsighted plea stirred the generous impulse of the world wide web, garnering almost 10.000 euro in financial support, extensive media coverage from the likes of Marie Claire, Grazia and Fashion United; and, last but not least, the attention of both Polimoda and Gucci. Impressed by Elisa’s enterprising go-getter spirit and savvy use of online communication strategies, the fashion institute has decided to cover the rest of her tuition fee.

We were so amazed by this young girl’s resourcefulness that we decided to give her an award for her efforts. We are sure that her determined and passionate approach will make her a brilliant student and that in the future she will be able to leave her mark on the industry. We need young, hard-working people like her, people who are able to think out of the box in order to reach their goals.

Danilo Venturi, Director of Polimoda

Elisa van Barneveld - portrait

Set to start in April 2018, the Master program will provide all the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary to manage a fashion store, gain mastery of all distribution phases and jumpstart the retail revolution. The faculty will feature resident teachers as well as professionals from Gucci.

“As a Fashion & Branding student I would love to work within the fashion industry” Elisa told Polimoda, ecstatic at the news of the school’s intention to finance her studies “I believe that it’s important to know and to learn as much of the industry as you can. The reason of my application to Polimoda’s Master in Fashion Retail Management has to do with its collaboration with Gucci but also with the fact that retail experience is an increasingly important tool when it comes to branding. Retail represents the brand and its collection as well as its complete style and communication. I find Gucci very inspiring. To learn from this brand is an amazing opportunity, which I absolutely did not want to miss. I’m also very happy to come to Italy, learn the language and learn more about its culture.”