My story isn’t the typical fashion designer story. I haven’t dreamt of becoming a fashion designer since I was a little girl; on the contrary, I was on the path to becoming a doctor, a neuron surgeon was the goal actually ---life has a funny way of putting things into perspective. I was an average little girl. I was in dance, cheered and played sports my whole life. As I got older, I dove into leadership roles. I was president of my class for 2 years, and cheer captain of my high school team. I was the kind of person that had friends in every group. I see people for who they are and not who they surround themselves with. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I sparked an interest in fashion. I asked myself, “Where does my clothes come from?” “Who makes my clothes?”
I started to look at fashion universities. I remember typing in, “Top 20 schools in the world for Fashion Design.” I didn’t have the skill set nor the background of fashion design, so I knew that if I was serious about this career path, I had to go to one of the best universities in fashion and surround myself with the best of the best. I ran into a small issue as I was touring fashion schools –not having a portfolio. You see, I had worked hard my whole life to become a doctor, I focused on having a high GPA, taking the hardest classes, being involved, holding leadership rolls, etc., well fashion schools cared about these things, but their biggest focus was your portfolio –and I didn’t have one. I scraped up a few drawings that I was proud of, a few paintings I had done, my portfolio was honestly a joke, but hey something was something. I toured many fashion schools.
There is one visit I will never forget. I remember showing my portfolio to a professor and she said,
“Are you serious about going into fashion?” and I said “Of course, I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.” She said, “You don’t know how to draw, you don’t know how to sew, you have no essence of what it means to be a fashion designer, you just woke up one day and decided this is what you wanted to do, when there are people who dream of this role their whole life. This is a hard career path, and you are getting a late start. My best advice would be –avoid yourself the disappointment and choose a different career path.”
I was 18 at the time, I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe she’s right, maybe I am getting a late start, but I know I can do this. I’ll do whatever it takes.” 7 years of pure dedication to my career, slow beginnings, hundreds of critiques (mostly harsh), no after no in the beginning, second thoughts/self-doubt, 1 study abroad semester in Florence, Italy, 4 international fashion competitions later, 2 top wins in foreign countries with my designs, top of my class at Kent State University, 2 NYFWs, 3 unpaid internships, so many sleepless nights, yearly invitations to conferences, 2.5 years of experience as Lead Designer for a company in the industry –and today at 25, here I am, taking this leap to start CCR CasasRojas.
3 things got me here – family, perseverance, and faith.
Trust your process, and silent the noise.