DENTON (UNT), Texas — The University of North Texas has tapped artist and retail industry veteran Kristen Kendrick Bigley to help reimagine its Denton Square space into an experiential learning laboratory.
The CoLaboratory at UNT on the Square, which is being overhauled by UNT’s College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, will be a place where community members can shop for unique, curated gifts that are reflective of the vibrant UNT community, experience a range of programming from lectures and chef demonstrations to art exhibits and installations featuring student work and taste food and drink from local makers and students. The space also will be available for public event rentals.
“We want to give our students an interactive space to learn and create as well as offer more ways for the community to engage with us,” CMHT Dean Jana Hawley said.
UNT has been a proud member of the Denton community since its founding on the Square. The top-ranked College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism has been working to reenvision the UNT space on the Square and develop plans for advancing UNT’s community presence in downtown Denton. The project started in October when operation of the university’s downtown space officially shifted from the Division of Student Affairs to Academic Affairs.
Now with Kendrick Bigley, who started in December as director of newly named The CoLaboratory at UNT on the Square, those ideas are becoming reality.
“I am thrilled to be joining UNT and to be guiding this new venture,” Kendrick Bigley said. “I look forward to collaborating with businesses and our Denton community. My vision for this space is to be ambassadors for the university in the community and to give people visibility into what’s happening on campus in a way they didn’t have before.”
As a learning laboratory, The CoLaboratory will allow students to set their education apart with real-life experiences in retail, event planning and participation as well as event and retail analyses.
“With Kristen’s great connections and being an artist herself, she will have a keen sense of selecting one-of-a-kind finds for the curated retail space. Her extensive retail and project management experience will be valuable as we transform The CoLaboratory and give our students new opportunities through this learning laboratory approach,” Hawley said.
The CoLaboratory is operating on a modified schedule based on its current calendar of events including the Denton Black Film Festival opening reception Jan. 22. Regular business hours will be announced soon.
Kendrick Bigley previously worked for nearly two decades with mineral-makeup trailblazer bareMinerals, holding a wide range of field leadership and operational roles within the organization. During her tenure with bareMinerals, the company grew exponentially, giving her a unique opportunity to experience and contribute to the growth in both the retail and wholesale channels.
As a Denton native, she’s long been active in the city’s arts community. She received a bachelor’s degree in studio art and sculpture from Texas Christian University. In 2016, she launched original artisan jewelry line, KKB Metal Studio, which draws inspiration from the natural world as well as mid-century modernism for its pieces.