Hayley Knowles '21
Discovering her passion for fashion
Hayley discovered her interest in fashion at a young age – inspired by Lauren Conrad’s fashion editor character in the TV series The Hills. “I imagined I worked for Vogue when I played house or dolls.” She watched episodes America’s Next Top Model and absorbed the behind the scenes preparation leading up to the photo shoots. She realized fashion is an expression of oneself, and loved the process of “recreating” herself as she carefully selected an outfit for high school each day.
Although she enjoyed all things fashion, Hayley considered a career in fashion to be a dream. “I thought I’d go to college to become a teacher” or work in some other more traditional field. She credits her high school English teacher – who knew of Mount Mary’s Fashion program and advised Haley as she applied for scholarships – as the reason her dream became a reality when she was accepted into the Merchandise Management program.
Mount Mary Fashion partners with a variety of regional designers, retailers and industries, and in the fall of 2019, Hayley volunteered to assist Milwaukee/New York designer Elena Velez as she prepared for her Milwaukee “homecoming” runway show of fashions she designed and created in New York. Hayley’s tasks included oversight of multiple pairs of luxury gloves. Hayley cherished the opportunity and approached the responsibility so seriously the experience “still haunts me, although I never felt more alive!”
Interning alongside stylist Jen Ublasi
For her student internship, Hayley worked alongside Chicago fashion stylist Jen Ublasi, where she learned that much of a stylist’s time is spent planning and preparing for photoshoots – sourcing clothing, sending emails, scheduling meetings, running errands, and managing social media – all necessary before “the fun activities like model fittings and the actual photoshoots occur – actually only a small part of the job.” The real life experience made Haley even more determined to achieve her career goal.
Building a reputation as a fashion stylist
Hayley’s built her network of fashion industry experts during her 4 years at Mount Mary. Milwaukee’s tight fashion community includes “so many creatives that just want to help each other grow,” and she’s gaining recognition as a professional fashion stylist in her own right – practicing her skills beyond the classroom. “I’ve assisted photographers, and I’ve begun to style and execute my own photoshoots.”
Following graduation, Hayley plans to broaden her experience by working for an established stylist in New York or Los Angeles.
Advice to future fashion students
Her advice to future fashion merchandise management students is to “put yourself out there and say yes to every opportunity possible. Be memorable – and don't ever think your dreams aren't worth pursuing.”
Put yourself out there and say yes to every opportunity possible. Be memorable – and don't ever think your dreams aren't worth pursuing.
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