Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer Drew Hunter
By Stef Skinner


My first trip to New York was during the Blackout of 2003. I was with two of my girlfriends from college and I remember my phone rang and it was my mom making sure I was okay. “I’m on Carrie’s stoop with a cupcake, of course I’m fine,” I joyfully replied (I know, I know, but I was only 20 and Sex and the City was at its peak).  It was during this trip that I fell instantly in love with the City. For the first time in my life, I felt like I actually belonged somewhere and knew—without a doubt– this was the place I would one day call home.

Before actually making the move, I would practice walking up and down Michigan Avenue – Chicago’s equivalent to Fifth Avenue. Why? Because during that first trip here, I realized I was too fast for Chicago, and way too slow for New York. So I trained.

Fast forward to April 2006: my bags were packed and I had a job. New York was finally mine to conquer. I cried when my plane took off, because I knew my life would never be the same. But I was ready… ready for adventure and the vast unknown that lay before me.

I loved fashion…had a real passion for it, and wanted so badly to be a part of Fashion Week, which was rapidly approaching. At the time, I was in a joyless job that barely paid my rent, plus I had no real fashion experience. I was eager to learn, though, and willing to start at the bottom…but I couldn’t afford to quit. So I went on Craigslist one night, and found an internship listing for a company that allowed its interns to work nights and weekends. Perfect, I thought, so I sent my resume. The next day I got an email back, and the following day, an interview.

I remember the first time I walked into the office — I was so excited to literally get my foot in the fashion door.  The person that interviewed me handed me a piece of paper and asked me to spell Vogue. Seriously? If this was the criteria, I was overqualified!

That season the PR Company where I interned produced 17 shows. I worked around the clock…running from my day job to run errands for my night job. I would cut seating cards, do call backs…whatever they needed, I did it. I was thrilled to simply be a part of Fashion. This was where I wanted to be so I did whatever it took.

Years later, I’m a fast-walking New Yorker, and I’m still working in the fashion industry. I’m grateful for every crazy moment and wouldn’t change a thing: from the number of hours I didn’t sleep, to the vast quantities of sugar-free Red Bull I’ve consumed to stay awake; from the tears to the laughs, to the short tempers and long hours. Every time Fashion Week comes around, you see the models running from casting to casting, you can feel a certain creative-yet-frantic energy in the air and then the lights dim, the music starts and the first look comes down the runway… and in that moment, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.