This is a very important post, to me. Finally, I get to talk about it with you, because it's finally coming true, and this is something I need to share with you. This post will talk about the steps that I did, the (extreme) disappointment and elation that I experienced, and the determination that I had to finish strong. Well, almost finish. It won't be finished until April 15th, 2016. That's when I'll really know when I've done well, if I've really succeeded.
Most of you are probably wondering what I'm talking about. I'll tell you. I am in the process of putting on a charity fashion show at my school. Such a big feat. The date is April 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm. The proceeds are going to a foundation called My Brother's Keeper, and this organization will come up later.
I didn't even think I could do it at first; it was just a wild notion at the time. I had chosen swimming as my winter sport at my school back in 2014, and my team had just finished a meet. As we walked down the bulkhead, congratulating the team (funny, I forgot who won), I got this idea out of nowhere. I mulled it over before telling my friend in front of me (again, forgot who).
"Hey, wouldn't it be a great idea to have a fashion show, right in here?" I had said. I got the feeling I had to keep going with my idea. "The bulkhead would be the runway, and you know those runways above a pool? That would be this kind of runway! We could also put some glow-in-the-dark lights at the bottom of the pool to make the water colorful! And see those bleachers? That's where the audience would sit!" I was coming up with all of this off the top of my head, not even thinking about the music situation, or where the models would change, or anything. All of this was off the top of my head.
Of course my friend didn't really ask me to elaborate. I don't think she cared. To be honest, I didn't expect anything different. I would be surprised if she did ask me to continue because I didn't even have to hear myself to know that I was just spouting ideas, not at all having the notion to put these ideas into place. I had no ideas besides these ideas right now. But every time I finished a meet and we had to walk down that bulkhead, that same idea chased me and I thought about it, each time a little more seriously and in-depth.
After winter swimming was over, spring, and tennis, came. I still thought more generally about the idea of a fashion show. Why couldn't I have a fashion show? I had a ton of clothes that I had made, and I could display them. I could display my creations for all the world to see!
Of course, I couldn't have a fashion show without a worthy cause. I had been learning about Haiti and different organizations to help Haiti and our own communities. I came across a foundation called My Brother's Keeper. I looked at the site and then decided, this is who I want to support. So, I had an idea and a cause, now what? Research.
I went online and found a sufficient amount of information. Audrey Bethards, Hair and Makeup could do, well, hair and makeup. Ruth Shaw (who, now thinking about it, actually came straight out and said they wouldn't donate because they only donate their clothes for their fashion shows... understandable), Gossip on 23rd, Anthom, Britt Ryan, and Violet DC (I actually was on board with them for quite a while, they discouraged me, but I still like the store) were contenders for clothes being donated. I was armed to the teeth with information, so all I needed to do was talk to a teacher or someone to help me start organizing the show. I was ready.
I talked to one of my favorite teachers (let's call her Teacher A), who is still my favorite teacher today, about this project. She and I had a nice discussion about the beginnings of the fashion show. I showed her my "intense" hours of research. (Little did I know this was nothing compared to the hours of time I would spend researching.) She referred me to another teacher (let's call her Teacher B) in the grade above me (I certainly didn't know that she would turn into one of my favorite and most influential teachers), saying that it would be best to talk to her because she was head of a group in the grade above me called Leadership Group. Teacher A promised to talk to her. I was excited! Things were happening! Then, Teacher A told me that we would have to get a proposal from the head of my school. That worried me for a bit, but then I realized that why would they say no? This is for charity, for goodness sakes. Funny, a proposal was actually never required.
Little innocent me. I didn't exactly know what this all would entail, what I would go through to get this fashion show going.
I mulled over the idea a little bit more through the spring, and once I got approved from Teacher B (Teacher A and B would become the adult ringleaders of this fashion show), my hopes about this whole fashion show were lifted. I was excited to start! I guess I thought it was going to be easy. The whole process wasn't.
As I approached the next year of school, I talked to Teacher B. She told me to join the Leadership Group and that my idea would be pitched to the rest of the group. I joined by writing an essay, and I was in! There were a lot of us, over 70. I nervously pitched my idea for the fashion show in front of all of these people. Strangely, this wasn't the worst part of the process, because I relaxed into this after the first couple of seconds. I created a form for sign-up to form a committee, and sooner than I thought, I had over 30 people signed up to help! Strangely, they wanted to either model (which would require auditions to model, not just by signing up) or judge (a judge at a fashion show? This isn't Project Runway). Anyway, I was happy to see all these people willing to help. I sent out an email to all of these helpers, stating what was to be done (and also how modeling and judging weren't exactly jobs on the committee. I scheduled our first meeting, feeling great.
I soon found out that these people weren't exactly willing to do work. They started emailing me after the email I sent went out, saying that they didn't want to be a part of this anymore. Why? I thought. People wanted to take their name off the sign up sheet and not go to the meetings, and I didn't know why. Maybe they don't like doing actual work, maybe they just like signing up. Regardless, the day of the meeting, I gathered a medium-size, hopefully focused group, and we assigned jobs and started the process.
It was great! There were people to be in charge of Tech and Music, Hair and Makeup, and Decorations. I got a few people to help make clothes. I was on Cloud 9, knowing that this could come along.
This is when it started to get hard. Violet DC soon got back to me and said that they wouldn't donate clothes due to the distance between my school and their boutique. This shocked me, as I thought they would say yes, not really considering no as an option. I tried again and again, really not ready to let them go (they were my desired boutique), but they refused. I was down in the dumps for a while, but then realized that wallowing would do me no good and got back up.
As for the makeup situation, per artist per hour was a pretty hefty fee: over $100. I never got back to them, deciding to rely on people from my school to help with hair and makeup.
I worked a little more on the show as I went along. It then came to me that I would need to audition models for the show. I emailed my entire grade, plus a couple more, saying that I would need models for the show. I sent out a sign-up sheet, asking people to sign up. I didn't know how much I needed, but soon came to about 8-10. It was a success! More than 20 people signed up to audition, and I was excited again. Although at auditions, a lot of people were not there, but I was thankful to those who were.
The audition was great! They were all girls, all wanting to be a model for my fashion show. I couldn't be happier. I made notes, along with the other modeling judges (assigned during the first committee meeting). We came up with a rough estimate of who the models would be, but we left room for more, since were weren't done yet. Since some people couldn't make the auditions that day, we scheduled another audition, despite the fact that Teacher B said that it would be best to only have one audition, because when it's done, it's done. I didn't like that and I wanted to expand because I wanted to see everyone who wanted to audition. The second audition was as satisfying as the first, and in a week, all of the people who auditioned were notified of who would model in the show. There was a grand total of 11 models, one more than I needed. This was so exciting! Finally, things are looking up.
I assigned a designer to each model, three models to a designer, and told each designer to make 3 outfits. The other two models would wear a collab of pieces already made from designers in past years (or months). It was a plan, and I started sewing. Before I knew it, I had made about 5-7 outfits, exceeding my three outfit limit! That moment, standing back and looking at all the outfits I had made, really showed how much I like to sew, and I couldn't be prouder.
I was concerned about the clothes, however. So far, I had no one lined up to donate clothes, because obviously I couldn't make 11 outfits plus a clothing change (22 outfits), even with the help of other designers.
I started contacting other boutiques. I typed up a description for one boutique and ended up using that as my "script" for every boutique, reciting it like a robot. The process was very similar, actually. I would recite the description, and in some form or another, they would say no. Overall in this period, I went through Wear It's At, Burlington Coat Factory, Pinktini (I was in question with them for a while. I love their clothes, so I kept trying, but eventually, it was done), Kelsey's Kloset (I was on board for a long time before they said no), Brightside, Forever 21, H&M, Ellie Boutique, Brown Eyed Girl, Bomshell, Rainbow, JCPenney, Macy's, Marshalls, and maybe even more. Here's the terrible part.
All of them said no. Except for Marshalls, thank god, but they didn't exactly say yes right away. As for them, I sent in a release form a few days ago and I am awaiting their response. It was such a late notice, however because of how much time leading up to the show I spent on the phone (I was on the phone for hours at a time) with boutiques. Don't worry, I have a plan that's working out quite nicely to the point where I may not even need them (I'll get to that later).
As you may imagine, being rejected so many times left quite a sting. It was probably the worst part of the process, besides all of the stress. Oh, the stress.
It was a really terrible time. I didn't even imagine that I would be turned down so many times. I cried, I became frustrated, I almost gave up, I lost hope. I would be angry, frustrated, and downcast for long periods of time, feeling like I would never feel happy again, not even a little. Why would I? Even though I had a committee, models, and designers, I was missing half the outfits in the show. Why go on? I thought. It's hopeless. I began to lose more and more confidence in the fashion show the more and more I got rejected, and on top of that, I felt like I was the only one doing work.
The committee had met only once since the first meeting, mainly because they had not been doing their jobs. This meeting was to get some kind of order restored, and so people could actually work on their jobs. I felt like the meeting was going to make a difference, but I guess it didn't. People expected to write a script to say before and after the show were not doing that at all. It took me several reminders to for only a little work to be done. Also, people who had signed up to make decorations for the show (the theme being New York) had not done any kind of construction. I began to get very frustrated on top of the sadness and despair. I didn't really understand how people could so willingly agree to work, only to slack off on their responsibilities. I still didn't have anyone lined up to supply the clothing donations, which stressed me out even more.
During this entire process, the hardest thing to deal with was the gargantuan load of stress. It prevented me from eating, sleeping (especially sleeping!), doing schoolwork, having fun, and basically doing anything else that wasn't the fashion show. It was torture. I cried because of the stress, I got angry because of the stress, and I collapsed under the stress, not really remembering the time where planning a fashion show was fun. (I also was planning a surprise birthday party for February 6 for my mother as well, so the stress doubled in a large way.) I wasn't happy, and a couple of times, I thought of canceling the fashion show. But no, I couldn't. I had worked so hard, I couldn't just give up. That's when I turned to to-do lists.
To-do lists saved me. If I could just get all of the thoughts weighing down on my brain and blocking sleep and food from entering my body, then everything would be just a little bit okay, it wouldn't seem as big and scary and impossible. I began to write down to-do lists at night before going to bed. Sleep was hopeless without a to-do list. Writing them calmed me down a bit and convinced me that I could do everything I wanted to achieve. Not to mention that checking off an item on my list brought me a sense of accomplishment that I have probably never experienced before.
As the day grew nearer, I became more stressed, despite the to-do lists. I still didn't have a boutique. People still weren't doing work. I felt like nothing was working. However, I held the first model rehearsal, and it was perfect. The models were so fun and happy and they made me laugh. They were actually quite good despite not having the experience. I was elated! It was amazing! I couldn't stop smiling as I came home, remembering that this was what it was like to have fun while planning an event.
I knew it wouldn't last. I knew it. I was still faced with people not working and me not having clothes to be either donated or loaned. These were my two main problems, and I decided in order for them not to be problems, I had to tackle them. In my mind, I knew that I would never hit rock bottom, that there would all be more options and more ideas. I called Macy's, JCPenney, and Burlington Coat Factory. They all said no. Refusing to give up or collapse in stress, I calmly thought about what stores I liked. Marshalls. I dialed Marshalls, about 99% sure that they would refuse, but I still thought that it was worth a try.
I spoke to a man who said that Marshalls loans out clothes for fashion shows! This could be it! This news filled me with enough hope and excitement to run screaming down the block. Finally! I calmly spoke more with the man, got the number for fashion shows, and hung up. I don't remember exactly what I did immediately after calling Marshalls. I might have screamed, I might have cried, I might have danced, all I know was that I was ecstatic. Things were finally turning around.
I spoke to a few more people before being connected to a man who said he would send me some release forms. I couldn't believe it! It was happening! I didn't have to stress anymore! This actually wasn't the case. Of course all highs come with lows. Since the show was about two weeks away, I needed these forms ASAP, and the man said he would send them as soon as possible (meaning when he got off the phone with me). Only that didn't happen. I waited about two or three days in agony, waiting for those forms. (I still haven't heard back from him. Funny, guess he forgot). I began to descend back into stress mode, crying and crying and suffering silently from all the stress and pain inside of my head, slowly taking over my whole body. My parents noticed how frustrated I was and comforted me in every way possible, including some solutions for my problem. My mom told me to call Marshall's back, and I did. My dad even suggested upcycling clothes from a secondhand clothing store. I was calmed down a bit by their assurance that everything would be okay. I tried to think so, but my mind couldn't get over the hurdle of no clothes.
As for calling Marshall's back, I did do it. I spoke to an incredibly nice man named Jim, and he was the lighthouse in the raging storm. He provided me a sliver of hope by assuring that he would send the forms. He did. It took until the next morning, but I can safely say that on April 7, 2016 at 10:36 AM, I breathed a huge sign of relief, because there the forms were, sitting safely in my inbox. "Finally," I had said under my breath, fighting the urge to sob right then and there (I was in school, after all). I printed them out and rushed them right over to Teacher B, who filled them out and gave them back. I transferred them to the computer, and once that send button was pressed, I could finally breathe correctly. I had done my part, now I have to wait on them. I still am, though. It's okay.
More trouble. I spoke to both designers, and none of them had completed the three complete outfit requirement. One girl hadn't even made two. Was it too much to ask, to ask you to make three outfits (not three pieces) while I stress my head off about every other thing? I thought. It was unfair that they would do this to me. Claiming that they didn't have enough time wouldn't work, however, because they had months to sew, yet their choice was to slack off and wait until the last minute and wait for me to pick up their slack. I told my friend about this, and we both stewed about it together. Even today, I'm still irritated about their work ethic, and I probably will be for a long time. Work ethic impressions are the ones that last.
I had an idea one day in my basement, a.k.a my sewing lair. This had been a small idea, brewing in the back of my brain, pushed aside by stress, but this small idea would later become the idea I am most grateful for. Maybe I could get all of the clothes I had made that look professional, and use them to create a few outfits? I thought. Strangely, I didn't think much of this idea. I wonder why. I ran upstairs to my room and gathered all of the clothes I had made (that looked professional, or course). I had quite a pile. As I put shirts to pants and skirts, I stood back, looking at the long line of outfits that I had sewn before. I counted how many outfits I had. Sixteen! That was when it occurred to me that just maybe, I didn't need a business to loan or donate clothes. I had enough here! I did some math and wrote some figures down, and incorporating the two designers' "outfits," that we just had enough for all 11 models, plus two clothing changes! Excited, I wildly ran upstairs and told my parents and sister, who celebrated with me, knowing that this was the escape from the black hole of stress I had been enveloped in. I finally felt a weight lift off my shoulders. One problem was solved. One weight of stress was removed.
From that day to today, there are four days until the show. I'm ready. I have had more model rehearsals (I actually had one today), my friend has completed one decoration (a street sign), and I have felt a little better about the process. I still am stressing about how no one has been constructing decorations. I still might need to write another to-do list or two. I might have to yell at someone or something to get all of my emotions out. And I'm going to do it, because I can't let darkness get in the way of my success.
And no, I can't tell you that everything is going to be okay. I can't stick my head in the sand. There's still a tremendous amount of work to be done. And I'll do it. I have to. I want to. And if you asked me, I would not change a single thing that happened in this process. I wouldn't take out the stress, the anger, the sadness, the frustration, because all of that made the good things even better. This process wouldn't be authentic without the stuff I hated. I needed to go through it to remind me how much I've been working and how much I want it to succeed. There's always going to be a problem, big or small, and I'll need to go through it the way I've always gone through every problem, with logic and hope. Problems happen, but what I think is more important is how a problem is solved. It shows the kind of person you are. And I'm not the roll-over-and-die type. I think I also learned a good lesson about people. Do I resent people from this process? Yes. Can I make people do work? No. Will they always deliver? No. They'll slack off. They'll make me disappointed. And what can I do about that? Nothing. I can only do what I can do, which is succeed. There are so many other details about this show, but I've talked about what you need to know about it. The highs and lows I can't prevent, not that I'll want to. All I want to to is keep going. Keep getting better from what I experience. I'll focus on the positive. I have a few people to do hair and makeup from my school, I have one decoration, I have models (with serious model sass), I have clothes, I have a supportive group of friends, family, and teachers who got me through this, I have the word out about the show (I'm planning for it to be on the news #WBAL), and most importantly, I have kept my hope. And because of what I have, what I don't have will not get me down. I really hope this fashion show will work, and even if something happens, I'll rely on what I have and will never lose, no matter how hard the world tries to take it away from me.
And my love for fashion.
Hope you liked this post,