For those that don’t know, I first moved to NYC almost 6 years ago to attend fashion school. Aside from dance, fashion was the one avenue I could see myself exploring in terms of a career path. I majored in Fashion Merchandising, and for four years learned the ins and outs of the industry.

What I learned very quickly was that the pretentious, in-your-face, “fashion is ART” mentality didn’t really strike home with me.  I always tell people that I was somewhat of a label freak (what 17 year old isn’t?), UNTIL I went to fashion school.  I learned the process of manufacturing & production, mark-ups, and basically the TRUE value of the product we see on shelves. That was when my “babe on a budget” mentality (um, not that I had a choice when I was slaving away at internships for 3 years) came to be. That Louis Vuitton you spent your hard earned paycheck on? Yeah, that bag isn’t even real leather. So I hate to say it, but you’ve been HAD. Much of fashion is selling a name, and nothing more.  The $800 Hermes bracelet my mom had to have (not trying to throw you under the bus, mom!) cost a factory overseas only a minor fraction of that to make. Yet Louis Vuitton and Hermes signify status, right? I call BS.

Anyway, it wasn’t until my Junior year that I decided that behind the scenes was where I wanted to be.  I wanted nothing to do with luxury brands, or even clothes for that matter.  I instead focused my efforts on fashion show production & events. I even became the Stage Director of my school’s fashion show that year. With that role, I was given a great mentor Mr. Lee, who took me under his wing and exposed me to a realm of fashion I wasn’t yet exposed to.

With Mr. Lee and his connections, I was able to attend shows at Fashion Week, brand launch parties at NYC’s “hottest” nightclubs (Justin Timberlake’s William Rast show and after party strike me as the most memorable!), and meet people that were very “high up” in the industry.

Nothin’ like a blurry JT photo.

Private performance after the show.

Seeing Jay Manuel after years of obsessing over ANTM was kind of awesome.  And there’s Patricia at the end, Sex and the City stylist.

I remember sitting at my first New York Fashion Week show and feeling the energy buzz through the roof. I looked around and tried to take in as much as I could. I thought to myself “Will I ever fit in with this crowd?” followed by – “Wait, do I even WANT to fit in with this crowd?” I pushed that last thought aside and enjoyed the Blonds crazy fashion show, while listening to Mr. Lee point out all of the runway and production details for me to mentally take notes.

When I knew that event planning was what I wanted to pursue, I took my last big internship in the field and was later offered a job through that company.  We worked with top clients, top venues, big brands, etc. I remember having another “aha” moment at a 300 person event, where attendees were in ball gowns and our job was to scramble our asses around in panic over the event details (yet never show it, obviously) and make sure the event went off without a hitch. There was a moment I took to myself to look around and yet again think, “Is this really what I envision for myself? This ‘glamorous’, fast-paced life where I am racing around stressing myself out so that these rich people I will never see again have a great time?”

Of course, there is more to it than that, yet in that moment it was the closing thought on a realization that this was not what I wanted to do with my life. That career certainly is for some people. Like my mom, an amazing event planner and caterer who THRIVES in that environment.

Soon after that night, I recall sitting on a park bench after work and crying, feeling truly unhappy. Why did I come here and spend all this time (and money – my monthly $600 student loan reminder) in fashion school, only to realize that this world is not for me? I called my mom feeling SO down on myself. Sitting on a park bench with the city blurring past me, not even knowing who I was in that moment.

I was broke, over-worked, and defeated.  I worked 65 hours a week between 2 jobs, and had lost all social life, all clarity, and all hope at regaining my sanity.  My mom, ever supportive, knew what I had to do.

It was then that I left the desk-job/events world entirely, picked up some more shifts at Rathbones, and focused on what my next move should be.  Soon after, The Fit Girls Dish was born.. An outlet for our creativity, our passion for wellness, a chance to hopefully inspire others.

Through the blog, fashion came back around full circle for me, in the form of outfit posts.  I was reminded of where my interest in fashion was I initially sparked all those years ago.. In the form of personal style & expression.  If I can provide content that others enjoy, then that’s enough for me. I am more fulfilled these days (although the quarter life crisis is not yet put to rest!!) through my baby of a blog than I ever was in those days.

Basically, this exceptionally long post can be shorted into a few key points..

Why I don’t work in fashion:
I love sleep.
I love food.
I love making a lot of money.
I refuse to settle.

Photo from last year with Raven Adams

Happy Monday :)
Ava