Last weekend, I had the opportunity to do some traveling to the “Lone Star State” of Texas for a little professional self-care. While I do travel for my job pretty consistently, seldom get to travel on my own terms and strictly for fashion purposes. One of my major resolutions for 2019 is to turn my dream of being a fashion stylist into reality, so what better way to jumpstart the process then by learning from a master, J. Bolin. My experience at J. Bolin’s Fashion Bootcamp was nothing short of amazing. For the entire day, he and a panel of fashion experts poured knowledge into myself and the other attendees on various aspects of the industry from finding your niche, securing clients, cultivating business relationships, and pricing for your work. A graduate of the “University of Failure,” as he calls it, J. Bolin’s purpose for Bootcamp was to share his ups and downs in his decade long career in hope of inspiring us to keep pushing forward.
J. Bolin shared the story of his transition from an unfulfilling engineering career, to taking that leap of faith to go after his true passion for styling. He shared dark moments from periods of homelessness and financial strain, as well as brighter days like styling his first client, working with celebrities and being able to sustain his family through his passion. Additionally, J. Bolin brought along a panel of his colleagues and friends to speak on other important aspects of the industry, such as Shon and Sampson of DTLA Production Co. who kept it real about the costs of manufacturing. A black-owned manufacturing facility, DTLA works with high fashion and emerging designers to produce their lines. They shared with us all about the manufacturing process, how to be cost efficient and some of the pitfalls to avoid during production.
(Fashions from the Bootcamp runway show)
Of all the amazing information I received by far my highlight of the day was when Kollin Carter, the man behind Cardi B.’s impeccable style, surprised us all by coming to speak. I don’t fan out about much (unless your name is Miguel or Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter), but I definitely had an “Oh SHIT!” moment there. I have been following Kollin’s career since he started working with Cardi in 2017; I know every look, every designer he’s used and watched her numerous transformations. What I didn’t know however was that he got his start as J. Bolin’s mentee over a decade ago. I couldn’t believe it. Here sat two of my professional icons, whom had been in my same position not too long ago, sitting side-by-side recounting stories of failure and success. Talk about coming full circle!
To hear these men recount their journeys made my own goals seem that much more attainable and real. When my application to Bootcamp was accepted I felt a lot of things and so many thoughts were going through my mind. The financial commitment aside, my main concern was feeling that I wasn’t good enough to be there, that somehow I was making a mistake and wasting my time. What if I wasn’t fashionable enough, not established enough, not talented enough? I’m just starting off in my career in fashion and I’m nowhere near the level that J. Bolin is or even some of my peers that attended were. Some had been working in fashion for years, while others had only dabbled occasionally. There were those who owned boutiques, online stores or their own clothing lines while others just enjoyed making outfits for others and the feeling it gave them in their heart. What I quickly realized was that everyone there, regardless of career or financial status, had the same feelings of self-doubt and fear as me. But you know what the crazy part is? It didn’t matter. We all had come for the same reason: to realize our purpose.
One of the key lessons I took away from my time at Bootcamp was how to maximize your thought process to truly reach your purpose and potential in this game. From actress and evangelist Priscilla Shirer of War Room fame speaking on the power of purpose and recognizing the calling within each of us to use our talents in life to serve God, to Gloxie, a former intern turned staffer at the J. Bolin agency recounting her own journey, they all spoke on stepping into your purpose. Rev. Karri Turner, another speaker on the panel literally took us to church with her message on letting the “oil find you” a metaphor for acknowledging our anointing (our gifts) and trusting they will lead us to our place in the world. Karri reminded us that there’s no sense in competing with somebody because you think they’ve got the success that belongs to you. You have your own success waiting, you just have to show up and take it. “You ain’t gotta beg borrow and steal for a position,” she said. “Why would I battle you for what’s already mine? Why would I hate on you for what’s already mine?” Her words echoed another one of my style idols Apuje Kalu who once said: “There’s enough work out here for all of us, and what is for me is what is for me!” And you know what… they’re both right. We spend so much time trying to compete with others and worry that there’s not enough room for everyone to succeed that we lose our own moment to be great.
This past weekend was just the reset I needed to keep me pushing forward. Everything I learned reaffirmed that all I have done up to this point has not been in vain, but instead has been inching closer to my moment, my anointing. I feel energized and more secure than ever in my abilities and when my moment comes, I’ll be ready. You can bet on that!