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Student Storyteller: Fashion and the liberal arts

By Chakayla Taylor ('13), Intern Office of Communications and External Relations
Chakayla Taylor

Flash back to September 2008: I was a senior high school student attending Prospective Student Day in the Wake Forest University Schools of Business. I was captivated with the idea of applying to the business school. Though English was a passion of mine, I was ready to trade in that dream for power suits and leather briefcases.

That is, until I decided to take Intro to Economics that following year. Suddenly, that dream of leather briefcases and power suits was out of sight and out of my frustrated mind. After considering on a plethora of other majors like Sociology, Spanish, and even Linguistics, my brother sat me down. “Chakayla, why are you fighting your passions? Pursue them before you regret it,” he said.

Like most new college students, I did not really listen to my older sibling, let alone my parents. I still fought with the decision to choose English until the opportunity to write for the campus paper, Old Gold & Black, became available. After writing my first article about fashion, and receiving feedback from my peers, it excited me. Then the questions started rolling in, “Are you an English major? Your voice in the fashion subject is so strong.”

After hearing this I began to consider English even more strongly. With the acceptance of following my aspirations, I honed in on gathering more knowledge about fashion and began to pursue it wholeheartedly. During my freshman year, I created a fashion blog called Classic.Raw.Beauty and assumed the identity and alter ego of Billie Monroe. At the time, I had no idea what I would post. I just had a general knowledge of the field.

Realizing that I was not a cookie-cutter image of a Wake student who wants to be a doctor or lawyer, I began to educate myself in the field of fashion. As if I were studying for any course here, I purchased and read books on the subject, one of my favorites being The Teen Vogue Handbook: An Insider’s Guide to Careers in Fashion.

Despite there not being a specific department for my interest, the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship program has helped me convey to the university my love for fashion. In addition to feedback from students, encouragement from sociology professors Robert ‘Saylor’ Breckenridge and Ana Wahl, who really nurtured my love for fashion and journalism, helped fuel my fire as well. They have given me much inspiration for the content I put on Classic.Raw.Beauty.

Though Wake is not a Parsons or Fashion Institute of Technology, through a combination of determination, dedication, and drive I have found my voice here, at a liberal arts institution. I have been accepted for who I am, with my big hair, tortoise-shell glasses and bright lipstick choices. I have been encouraged to remain outside the box.

I have completely embraced and recently discovered that I have the desire to work with the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship to create a comprehensive course of study in Fashion Retail and Buying Major Program. Someday I envision this being on the level of the prestigious institutions of LIM College and the Fashion Institute of Technology. In true Demon Deacon tradition, I will be back to help students achieve their dreams with a new perspective on unique career choices.

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