Sewing original designs at a young age
Nyah always loved art and fashion, but never considered those interests to be a valid career choice.
She began creating fashion early on – sketching dresses and pinning fabric scraps together to make outfits and “put on fashion shows.” Eventually her grandmother taught her basic sewing skills, and Nyah began to create simple doll clothes, pillowcases and small handbags for fun.
Nyah continued to create and sew, and by the time she entered high school was already sporting her custom designs. She sewed her own prom and graduation dresses, and was encouraged by the positive feedback of her family and friends.
“It helped me realize I could go to school for this and didn’t have to settle for something I wasn’t as passionate about. I wanted to make my interests more than just a hobby and turn my enthusiasm for creating fashion into a career.”
Choosing Mount Mary
Mount Mary offers a broad variety of undergraduate programs beyond fashion and art. Although Nyah chose to study fashion design, she was confident she could pursue a different degree if she decided to change course. She also liked that the campus was close to home, allowing her to keep her part-time job while attending classes.
“I like the broad variety of fashion design courses at Mount Mary – to discover what suits me the best.”
Nyah works confidently as she develops collections in Fashion Design I. She likes the challenge of designing apparel that focuses on the needs of a specific customer. “The process of building customer profiles, compiling color stories, and pulling inspiration from the mood boards I create – to achieve a polished presentation – is one of my favorite aspects of design.
Nyah also loves the Fashion Art course and its artistic focus. “I discovered what type of medium I liked – resulting in commissions of custom watercolor portraits for friends and co-workers.” The attention has inspired Nyah to launch a professional website and calling cards to help cultivate her budding “brand.
Each spring, Mount Mary fashion partners with the American Heart Association to present student’s red dress designs at the Red Dress Runway benefit event. Officially open only to juniors and seniors who’ve completed patterning, Nyah, although only a freshman, applied anyway.
“After providing samples of my work to my professors who had yet to get to know me, I was allowed to participate and create a dress for this wonderful event.”
Nyah was “beyond excited,” chose Audrey Hepburn as her muse, and got to work drafting patterns and samples. She overcame any obstacles – due to her limited experience – to create a truly runway worthy design.
“As a young freshman, I was ready to prove my ability and present my design to the public for the first time. It was an amazing experience and I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity so early on in my career. Leaving that stage, I knew I was on the right path.”
Gaining experience and making connections
While in school, Nyah’s gaining industry experience by working summers at various retail establishments, including a bridal shop, a small clothing boutique and even a dry cleaner – to help familiarize herself with a “different aspect of the industry.” These experiences have helped her understand customer demographics and psychographics first-hand.
“As a designer, retail experience is extremely important. It’s a good way to learn how customers view and interact with merchandise. I was able to see what sold, what didn’t, what people bring in to be professionally cleaned often versus rarely, etc.”
Nyah is developing her network beyond Mount Mary by working part-time as a restaurant server. Her connections have landed her part time jobs, commissioned projects, and fashion show and photography work. “It’s so important to make positive connections with people and branch out beyond school and close friends.”
Still a junior, Nyah isn’t yet certain about the specific path she’ll take after graduation, but knows it will be fashion focused. “I’m open to many different opportunities that may come my way!”
Advice to potential fashion students
Nyah has some advice to anyone considering a career in fashion. “Go for it! Studying design has been an amazing experience for me and has helped me turn my love for fashion into something lucrative. While it is definitely hard work, and there are many late nights, there is nothing better than finding a career that makes you happy and excited to work each day. If it is a true passion of yours, there’s no doubt you can make it work.”
Go for it! Studying design has been an amazing experience for me and has helped me turn my love for fashion into something lucrative. While it is definitely hard work, and there are many late nights, there is nothing better than finding a career that makes you happy and excited to work each day. If it is a true passion of yours, there’s no doubt you can make it work.