To everyone who participated in our most recent IG Stories reader survey – we thank you! A major thing we got from it is that our realness, honesty, fashion and personal posts keep you all coming back and following our page! We really want to focus on continuing to write more personal pieces, especially on the blog, because as much as you do enjoy reading them, we do like to write them.
A few weeks ago a reader reached out wanting to know more about my journey from living in a small town in the Midwest to working in the NYC fashion industry. Honestly it was a great question because I really don’t know how it all came about, and it is not often that many people move out of the area I grew up, let alone moving to New York City! So to break it down I will start at explaining just how small my small town is!
So I was born originally in Akron, Ohio (home of Lebron James) because my dad was coaching football at the University of Akron at the time. When I was about three years old my dad got a job coaching quarterbacks at the University of Cincinnati so we made the move and actually moved into the town my Dad grew up in – Bright, Indiana – which is right outside of Cincinnati, Ohio! As you can see from the Wikipedia insert above the population of Bright is 5,693 people so yes IT REALLY IS A SMALL ASS TOWN. I now live in a city with 8.6 MILLION people for context lol.
I lived in Bright my entire life until I went to college and to be honest I never really had a major interest in fashion during that time. This was due to many things but mainly not being able to garner or grasp onto anything inspirational surrounding me. I do remember I used to love going to the supermarket and buying magazines which really showed me different and fun ways to show off certain pieces. That was ultimately where I sparked an interest in fashion but that interest was not necessarily common where I grew up. The closest mall was about 45 mins away and online shopping was still something people were weary about. So I started watching episode after episode of Project Runway. I used to get the DVD packs for Christmas and would watch seasons over and over again. That was really how I started to understand the world of fashion in New York.
The rest I sort of had to figure out on my own and boy was that a ROCKY ROAD lol. Pictures below for context.
The belt… the bangs… the scooby doo lunch box, THE SKIRT. WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE.
Ultimately this all resulted in me having a very OUT THERE sense of style lol. I used to wear some crazy things to high school and middle school. I rarely matched my clothes and would even at times wear chopsticks in my hair (inspired by 13 going on 30). I did learn from dressing myself like a crazy person every day, that I liked being creative and coming up with looks (even if they were insane.) So around my junior year of high school my dad started taking us on trips to New York. It was there that I really discovered my love for the city. I immediately knew that I wanted to end up there some way, some how. It is not always easy however when you grow up in a small town, that many rarely move away from. It is harder to visualize and understand the opportunities. However I am here to tell you THEY ARE OUT THERE AND THERE ARE MANY!
Which brings me to my point of grasping at what you have, to learn and grow. I did not in any way have the same opportunities for creativity as others living in major cities but I made the most of it and used what I had to grow my knowledge and learn. I also had to learn to not care what other people thought. There used to be a mean girl well many mean girls in high school and college that would joke about me or say things like I dressed a certain way for attention. Obviously these things hurt my feelings and the comments I endured in college hurt my feelings. But the worst thing you could EVER let someone do is stop you from living your dream or becoming who you are supposed to be.
Pictures of me and my outfits circa 2010 in NYC.
The beanie, the bag, the project runway top… all wrong. Actually that top can stay. Who doesn’t love a Tim Gunn catch phrase.
My freshman year of college I entered in with the major International Studies – that lasted a whole 2 weeks before realizing the intense foreign language pre-reqs I would have to achieve. I took an intro class to apparel merchandising on a whim, and really ended up liking it, which is where my love for fashion truly began.
Even though I still did not know how to dress my freshman year. Someone help me.
Actually fun fact!! Kelly gave me that shirt! So cute… but WHY DID I ADD THE EARRINGS, BELT, TANK UNDERNEATH?!
Loved to over accessorize…. Headband, earrings, leather shorts, the whole 9 yards.
Started to figure it out here – but the green eyeshadow… thats NEEDS TO GO.
Not only did a switch in my major really help me understand and get interested in the world of fashion but also college itself. Even though I was just switching from a very small town in Bright to a bigger small town in Bloomington – I was surrounded by people from all over the world. I was able to find inspiration in the things I did and the people I was meeting. I also never let coming from a small town stop me from thinking I could do or be anything. With any other mindset you will immediately fail.
After my freshman year of college I began to take every opportunity I could to somehow get to New York, as I knew now that this major was my way of getting there. That summer I went on a class trip to New York City with the apparel merchandising club. (Fun fact: I actually fainted in the BCBG showroom while on that trip from locking my knees too long. Almost puked on the Spring 2012 collection.) I also went on that trip with Jordan Gill (@newyorkcitystylist) who went to Indiana as well, which is where we originally met! Some photos from that trip below.
Note: I was in pure heaven on this trip! Getting to see all of these brands and meet with these merchants. It really sealed the deal for me in terms of what I wanted to do when I grew up.
My sophomore year I emailed every single brand that we met on that trip my resume. I ended up getting a first round interview with Victoria Secrets and then no second round call back – I was crushed 🙁 but knew if I kept sending it out something would happen from it. Last minute I had a phone interview with the wholesale brand Donna Morgan in NYC and got the job 2 weeks later. It was an unpaid internship in NYC and I was 20 years and never lived somewhere on my own.
I owe a lot of this post to my parents who helped me and LET ME make that move to NYC for a summer. I think they knew that this was such a major opportunity for me. Especially because so many of the girls in my apparel classes were originally from New York and were getting handed these INCREDIBLE internships left and right with Calvin Klein, Vogue, LVMH. I was from that town with 5,867 people and these opportunities didn’t come that often.
That Summer of 2013 living in Manhattan, with Kelly by my side, really sealed the deal for me. It was the summer Mimosas and Manhattan was born. It was the summer I really knew that fashion was the place for me and what I wanted to do. I of course never thought, at that time, that this (blogging full time) would become my full time career but I am so happy it is now and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else at this time in my life.
Fast forward to now:
// INCREDIBLE BALLOON DISPLAY BY REBEL BALLOONS //
I am so happy and in such a good place in life. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I am always thinking of new and creative things to do with the blog or with upcoming events/fashion. I never in a million years thought that I would be in this position let alone in this position in New York City.
I had drinks with a friend from my sorority, who was born and raised in Jersey and interned with me in NYC the Summer of 2012, a few months back. And she said to me that she remembered me being that small town Indiana girl our freshman year and here I was taking on the big city. I thought to myself that she was right and even if they are small successes they deserve to be celebrated!! In the end we all deserve to be celebrated in our lives no matter where we end up and what we are doing or where we are living! So lets take a moment and congratulate ourselves on where we are today 🙂
I hope that this post can in someway help someone feeling like they can’t achieve their dreams realize that they can. No matter where you are from the world has a place for you. Dream big!
So happy and proud of you! Such an inspiration to many people no doubt!!
Ps loved the balloon pic sneak peek
Elizabeth Wadas says
LOVED this one, court! I’m so proud of you, and I adore watching you SOAR!