Ever feel like you're dreaming out of your league? At one point or another we all get discouraged by thinking that what we want for ourselves is impossible or unattainable. Well this one is for you weary daydreamer. Buffy Youngblood shares how her obedience to God led her straight to a job with Michael Kors.
Nadia: Let's start simple. Where are you from? Tell us a little about Buffy.
Buffy: I am originally from Texarkana, Arkansas but moved to Dallas, Texas in 2007 where I attended Dallas Baptist University. I grew up as the only girl with three older brothers and both of my incredible parents. I was a cheerleader and dancer from the time I was a little baby [until] about 18. In college I was asked to head up the first ever sorority on DBU’s campus, which ended up being the love and focus of my life for my last two years of college. I also interned in a youth group for a few years, which showed me my passion for speaking into young peoples lives. I've always had this creative heart longing to show itself in any way; always coming out in my clothing and later in graphic design and photography.
Nadia: What did you see yourself doing at this point in your life?
Buffy: I wanted to be in journalism in a fashion magazine.
Nadia: How did you wind up in NYC?
Buffy: GOD! It may sound a little too typical but there’s no other way to answer that question. This was such a huge act that there is no reasonable way to explain me being here except for the Lord. I wanted to come to NYC when I graduated college but He clearly said absolutely not! After graduation, I found a job in Dallas in [retail] sales. I started living downtown with a friend from college and was living the life. I was young, single, had my own income and felt like a grown up finally. This is what I would call being comfortable and my belief is that the best place to be is being UNcomfortable. Although I no longer had a home church and wasn’t in constant relationship with the Lord, as His child He had a word He needed to get across to me. I visited NYC in March of this year and went to see my boss with whom I interned in 2006. This internship was in fashion public relations and I thrived in the environment. She told me she would love to have me back and retrain in hopes of hiring me. I also met with a few other connections in the city and felt full of excitement, but not confirmation. I went to Hillsong church on that Sunday and when I say God spoke, I mean He sat in that room and pointed in my face and told me what I had to do, no questions asked. The sermon was about not letting anything or anyone blind the vision God has placed on your life because it is BIG. My real name, Elizabeth, means to be sanctified or set apart. God told me in that moment to embrace those words and to take the hard road; one that sets me apart. He so clearly gave me this immediate passion for the dark city of NYC. [He] told me to be a light in the darkness, making Matthew 5:14 my life quote. God was clear and direct and there was no turning back. I was to be a disciple in the mission field of New York City. I got back and slowly let everyone I loved know about the move. The friendships that I had formed in Dallas were my rock, and [those friends] supported, loved and prayed me through every step. I had a million going away parties, bawling at every one of them, but always filled with prayer and encouragement. From there I headed to Texarkana to say goodbye to my family. Off I went, leaving everything familiar for the last 23 years, with no job and no real apartment waiting for me.
Nadia: Ok, so that was totally inspiring. The Lord clearly spoke, but how did your path from Dallas lead to this internship in New York?
Buffy: I went through a program called Dream Careers Inc. The program basically places you within your preferred city and you interview with companies that you’re interested in. Mine ended up being with a fashion public relations firm in Soho of Manhattan. I was there for three months and made tons of great connections; I recommend internships to everyone!! Also look for programs with great housing and events deals. They get your foot in the door and help you decide what you do and don’t like in a career. When I moved back to the city three and a half months ago I began working with the PR firm again but was immediately unhappy. I realized the company was extremely unorganized and my boss still hadn’t discussed pay with me. It’s always good to intern with smaller companies in New York but not to actually work for them. Before moving I prayed favor and prosperity into my life every single day and claimed that I would have provision in New York and WOW does God answer. I had a friend that was on staff at Dream Careers and moved to Michael Kors as a corporate recruiter and she set up an interview for me. Within a week I went through two interviews with big hitters within Michael Kors. I got a call about a week and a half after the first interview saying I got the job! I’ve never felt more humbled or blessed by the Lord! When you follow what He tells you to do He will provide! I officially began working as a Shop Specialist with Michael Kors!
Nadia: Seriously during every response I just find myself with the biggest smile on my face. I love hearing about how to land a dream job, through practical avenues, but what's better is hearing the testimony of provision, over and over again! So on the practical side, lots of people our age are graduating college and taking whatever job they can get, regardless of what they've studied. How does your degree fit in with what you're doing now, if at all?
Buffy: I actually studied graphic design and minored in English. There is no certain degree you have to have in the fashion field, especially in NYC; just as long as you have a great resume and references. If you study within a creative field it definitely helps because so many of them flow together. I still love to do freelance graphic design and photography and really should start a blog!
Nadia: Yes, showcase all that talent in a blog! I would love to see that. So as someone who currently writes for a blog, specifically a blog geared towards women, what recommendations would you give to the ladies reading this who are interested in pursuing a career in the fashion industry?
Buffy: Spiritually wise, know that you’re defined by your Father and His love for you and not by how you look or dress or what your title is. The fashion industry can at times be extremely competitive and mean and its hard to keep your head on straight and not join right in. In literal terms, as I said before, INTERN! And as much as possible! Have reference letters on hand at all times and make sure your resume is no longer than a page. I helped interview all of the interns at the PR firm and got to see just how this process goes down. Be passionate and study the business. Michael Kors was the most intense interview I’ve ever had; they wanted to know small details on what I knew about the company and their product. Every fashion company or brand is looking for proactive, passionate people to represent their name. Just be that and you’re golden!
Nadia: So basically, be in it for the long haul. It sounds like it takes a lot of commitment but I know the women out there who are passionate about it will do great, as you said. As you may or may not know, CW has recently launched its magazine edition, in addition to the blog here. We love trends and being in the know, so as someone living in one of the great fashion capital's of the world, do tell what are your must haves for this Fall?
Buffy: Must haves for the fall…. Lets see... definitely a beautiful over the knee black boot. They’re practical with a little bit of sexy and go with everything! Also any type of legging with some leather or pleather in it. I wear these with an oversized long sleeved tee, chunky scarf and my boots on the daily! H&M has some great, inexpensive ones. Another would be a perfect big floppy hat. As for colors, stick to black, camel, burgundy, and hunter green with gold accents and you’re set. Scarves have also become my favorite accents. Wear the same shirt for a week and no one will notice; just add a new scarf!
Nadia: I personally love the scarf thing. That's like my secret every season. I guess I'll have to switch my shirts around now, people will start paying closer attention! Now I find myself struggling with this next question a lot. As someone who has a lot going on, I find myself swapping out one task for another, and I think as women, we tend to overload by nature. How do you find yourself juggling the commitments you have to yourself and your career, with the expectations people may have of you; and what is the best advice you’ve gotten in dealing with this?
Buffy: Number one, get a planner! I couldn’t live without mine. You always want to be a woman who keeps her word, therefore never cancel on anyone unless it’s a must. I have church activities three nights out of the week, plus friend time, and me time, and getting errands in there. It’s all a matter of knowing what to say yes and no to, and maintaining time management. Don’t feel wrong for saying no! It’s much better than canceling later. I’ve also learned that friendship quality is better than friendship quantity. There’s no need to have a million halfway friends just stick to the quality ones and make time with them of high importance! The best advice I’ve gotten on this is to simply remember priorities and the answer is clear.
Thanks so much for your time Buffy and for the informative and inspirational Q&A!
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