From running her own business to producing a clothing line for the annual Fashion X show, junior Simone Ashley demonstrates her lifelong passion for fashion in a variety of ways, inside and outside of school.
Ashley’s interest in clothing production began at the age of eight when her grandmother gifted her her first sewing machine. Although the first shirt they made together did not turn out the way she liked, it only further inspired Ashley to learn everything she could about the art of fashion. “I [fell] in love with the idea of making things that I don’t have to buy,” she says. With the help of online tutorials, Ashley taught herself many of the sophisticated techniques she incorporates into her clothing today.
Ashley’s demonstrated talent for sewing has distinguished her as an outstanding student since the start of her high school career. Impressed with her big ideas and advanced skill, fashion production and illustration teacher Katja Jimenez asked Ashley to move up from Fashion Production 1 to Fashion Production 2 a semester into her freshman year. “I didn’t want her to just do [my techniques] as I told her because that’s what beginners do,” adds Ms. Jimenez. “They learn the little steps. Simone was never about little steps.”
To supplement her love for fashion and future aspirations to become a celebrity fashion designer, Ashley began her own business, called “Simone’s Designs”, over the summer. “Simone’s Designs” exclusively takes custom orders from people of all ages and sizes for any event they need, whether it be a simple hole mending for a job interview or producing an elaborate Renaissance-style dress for an extravagant costume party. “The best part is seeing the excitement people get when [they] put [my clothes] on,” she says. “It’s just like, ‘Oh, I made that.’”
Between juggling her projects for Fashion Production 3 and managing her own business, Ashley also found herself powering through a process she used to think was only reserved for her senior peers this fall: applying to college. At learning that the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in California was the only postsecondary arts school in the US to consider high school juniors for admissions, Ashley jumped at the chance to secure an early admittance into college.
After a long, but unique, application process that included submitting numerous sketches, a moodboard, and several phone interviews all within the span of two weeks, Ashley received the final call notifying her of her acceptance into FIDM’s Class of 2023 November 14. “I just think that me getting in was crazy because it’s a highly prestigious fashion school that not a lot of people get [admitted] into,” she says. “I was shocked.”