Fashion Beginnings

Ever since I could remember I have LOVED fashion. My grandmother was the first person who taught me how to sew when I was a child. I started with the simple stuff like pillowcases and pockets and progressed to doll clothes for my American Girl Doll. Every time I went to nanas I hopped on her sewing machine and would just stitch pieces of fabric together using different techniques .

In High school I covered my entire bedroom wall from bottom to top and no empty spaces visible with the top designers and models I admired and words I liked, and photos I thought were pretty. Looking back now I’m not sure how or why my parents allowed me to destroy an entire wall with my art like that (by art I mean pages ripped out of magazines). It was a giant canvas and a mood board I wasn’t even aware I was creating. I knew I always wanted to be apart of the fashion world. At one point I wanted to model, when I was a teenager I was in New York studying ballet at the American Ballet Theater and on a free day I went to a model casting call with a friend. I showed up with no portfolio, no idea what I was doing I just thought I’d show up and tell them I wanted to model. They told me I was too tall…  

Around the same time I really started taking my fashion ideas seriously and one of the main reasons was because I couldn’t find clothes to fit my height or my age. In high school I took every sewing, knitting and quilting class available. Two of my most memorable final projects were a trench coat I made that I ended up leaving after the end of the semester and really wish I had today (Mrs. Ruhl if you’re reading this whatever happened to my trench coat??) Also, let me add the requirement for that project was to make any sort of top. The other was a 10x10 foot quilt I stayed up the ENTIRE night sewing on my basic Brother machine that was fully equipped with iron on photos and a full denim backing. Let me also mention the final requirements only called for a quilt that was at least the size of a 4x4…. I must have really been going for the WOW factor.

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Sometime after moving on to college I stopped sewing and had less time for my fashion dreams once I started to pursue volleyball.

That time I was told I was “too” tall to model I was crushed for a about a day. I remember being a 15 or 16 years old in New York saying good bye to my friend after the casting call then finding a breakfast spot and eating the largest stack of apple cinnamon pancakes and grumbling to myself that “I didn’t want to model anyway” but also laughing because this was still a time before diversity in size, color, gender appeared at the level it is now. I knew that if anyone were to witness how I destroyed a stack of pancakes in 10 minutes my modeling career would surely be short. Today I don’t think there is such thing as “TOO” anything… I love the way fashion is evolving, even if it is slow.

Being turned down for modeling actually it sparked my interest in fashion show production. I loved all the excitement and build up and runway performance. I wasn’t even aware that it was a real job, I didn’t know who produced the fashion show or how it all went down. I only knew I wanted to be in on the action. But, again I focused on my career of professional volleyball at the time. I used to tell people I was going to be the oldest person still playing professional volleyball. I didn’t have any desire of slowing down anytime soon. I assumed one day my ideas of fashion and designing clothes to fit women with a body like mine would somehow fall in my lap once my volleyball run was up. In a very round about way I guess that is what happened. Except I didn’t choose to stop playing, volleyball more so told me that chapter was finished and that’s is OK.

Even though I feel old at times, or that I am starting too late (there is that word again “too”). This timing couldn’t be more perfect. I have enrolled in fashion and design classes at Pima Community College and have been learning so much!

Without this post getting any longer, lets finally get to the point. Hi I’m Whitney, I design swimwear to fit long bodies, I am on the production team for the Pima Community College 2018 fashion show that just so happens to be the largest in school history, AND my swimwear line will debut in the show. Let me take you on my journey. From fabric choices to networking we will call this section The Fashion Project.

One of my favorite quotes by a trailblazer herself Misty Copeland is, “You can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed.” – Misty Copeland. That is 100% my situation rightnow; Late to the party, a “different” body type, clueless AF, but have a vision.


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