How Taking a Gap Year Landed This Stylist a Job in Fashion
What is your name, age and what do you currently do?
“I am 20 years old. I am a head stylist/ brand ambassador for a men’s streetwear company called Staple Pigeon and I also work at a retail store called Lulu Frost it’s a vintage jewelry boutique.”
How has fashion played a role in your life? How would you describe your style?
“ Funny story actually, I didn’t always want to style. I used to dance but then I broke my leg in the 8th grade and I was like okay so I can’t dance anymore. My aunt is a stylist, so I kind of fell into it with her. I started going to photo shoots with her and helped her as an assistant. From working with her I realized that wow this can be something fun to actually do. I graduated from high school and didn’t know what to do so I decided to take a gap year. In my gap year I came across this mens streetwear company and in December it will be 6 months working with them. I actually knew about them my junior year of high school, so when I did get this opportunity to work with them is when I started really getting into styling. I have always been involved with fashion design and sewing even before this company but I guess I would’ve never had the opportunity to experience these things if I didn’t take a gap year.
I would say my style is mostly streetwear. I don’t really wear heels at all because comfort is a really big thing for me. I always wear sneakers, I have one in almost every color except blue. I don’t know blue just hasn’t been a color I’ve worn much. I am always wearing something tomboyish but that still looks good. Statement pieces are my thing whether it’s my sneakers or my jacket or like my hair is a statement piece in its own now. Occasionally, I will step out of my comfort zone and wear a dress and heels but it’ s rare.”
Can you describe the Brown Sugar Collective Project and what inspired it?
“ Brown Sugar Collective is an initiative to help connect young black creatives in NYC through innovative events and projects. It started when two of my friends Athena and Wendy and I had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and was like why aren’t we all connected and coming together to do projects together with all creatives. So this started when they had a meeting in Chipotle and they called me up to join them and they told me about this idea and from that day we began it. We had our first launch event June of 2017 and we had that conversation in January, so we didn’t even have that much time to plan it. None of even knew how to plan an event or where to start but since my mom plans events for her job she guided us a little. We also were lucky enough to have a mentor who is the founder of this program called Petals N Belles which helps young women and so she was helping us plan our event. The process was so stressful we were scared that this was not going to do what we needed it to do. Afterwards, people loved it and were happy with how it came out and they were reaching out to us telling us they couldn’t wait for the next event. We had that amazing opportunity to be mentored and to learn from each other and I noticed that a lot of the youth around us don’t have that and that is what we are trying to help out with. So for our launch event we had a panel discussion of women in media. We had Damali Elliott, Chizi Duru, Danielle Brown, and Quay Ills on the panel. There was a moderator that asked them questions and the audience interacted with them. Overall, it was great to see a room filled with different women of color from different age groups. Up until a month before the event we didn’t have the money to rent the space and we were panicking so we started a GoFundMe and were able to raise almost $2,000 in a little bit over a month. We were so happy about the success and can’t wait for more!”
What are some new projects you guys are working on?
“We have a two new projects coming up called one is ‘Meet the Mogul’ and we pick young moguls and interview them about what they’re doing in their life and share their story. Our next project is called ‘Sugar Kitchen’ where we have a chef that will teach people how to cook one meal and to have a moderator keep it flowing. It’s fun to include different aspects into this collective like sugar kitchen will be a different and most Through these projects we want to grow together as a platform and build connections through each other which we did from our first project. It was a good opportunity and it’s interesting to see how everything will expand.”
Can you describe a significant moment in your life that has shaped the person you are today?
“I always had a high self esteem because I was raised by a single black woman and I had her always keeping me in check.But when I was 8 I auditioned for the Lion King on Broadway and the night before I got really sick and I still went to the audition anyway and I didn’t get it. I was so crushed because I couldn’t believe that I had practiced so much for it and I still didn’t get it. I was embarrassed because I felt like I wasn’t good enough and my mom was there and she reassured me that this was just a slight hiccup and to keep going. I realized that you could do whatever you’d like and you don’t have to be stuck in this one area, like I can still dance now but it’s different because I found another passion so it’s not the top of my mind anymore. My mom is always there to let me know everything's going to be okay and to keep pushing so I had never had the chance to really fall and have to pick myself up. I was raised around a family who would help me and guide me through problems.”
What is your greatest struggle?
“ My greatest struggle now is figuring out my next move. I took a year off from school and I haven’t even started college yet and that’s because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My time is precious and money doesn’t grow from trees. I learn from experience so I preferred to not go. Now that I have learned all I needed outside from school I am thinking okay what’s my next step? I’m battling if I do decide to go to college what am I going to go for? Liberal arts or business? I could go, but am I going to enjoy my college experience? I like having the freedom that I have now, to go meet new people, being able to travel whenever I’d like or to take up seven jobs if I wanted. But now I think I have to take advantage of the fact that New York has college for free now so I’m constantly considering these options. Having a degree has been important nowadays because lets say I end up wanting to work for a business and they can’t hire me because I don’t have the degree needed for the position and I know a lot of people who that has happened to.”
Where do you see hope to see yourself in 5 years and what continues to motivate you to pursue your dreams?
“ In five years I hope to have all the experiences that I could have for a 25 yr old. I hope to be very secure in my career and to be more confident in my decisions. I see myself living in L.A, well first of all the food, the way of life there and the sun. I feel like there are a lot of opportunities there for me more than here in New York. It’s hard when people from L.A want to work with me and I can’t because I live here. L.A is not the type of place where you just go; you have to have a plan and the money to fall back on but I have been saving to potentially leave.”
What’s your favorite quote?
“I woke up today and I am happy to be here on this earth and things can be a lot worse for me so today is going to be a good day.”
“If you don’t like something in your life, change it.”
By: Rajaa Singh