When Shoshana Swell ’20 learned in March that NASA had scrubbed plans for an all-female spacewalk because it lacked women’s spacesuits, she got frustrated.
An information science and film major, Swell had recently helped design a space-themed clothing line for the Cornell Fashion Collective. She decided to channel her feelings into new designs, and in the spring created a company selling T-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the words “This is my spacesuit.”
“It sparks a conversation, because it’s obviously not a spacesuit,” Swell said. “So to me, the collection is bringing space closer to Earth, and allowing people to redefine what space means to them.”
On LinkedIn, Swell noticed an application for social media influencers seeking to attend NASA’s launch of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft heading to the International Space Station, scheduled for July 21 from Cape Canaveral. Even though she had around 40 followers on Twitter, she filled out the form – and to her surprise, she was accepted.
“When I found out, I was crying and screaming,” she said. “I totally made a scene.”
Since she launched her clothing line with a pop-up event in May in Ithaca, she’s sold more than 100 items, she said. “People would come up to me and say, ‘I saw four spacesuits on the Arts Quad,’” said Swell, a product design intern at Facebook this summer. “It’s been very exciting.”
– Melanie Lefkowitz