Last year, Black Fashion World Foundation’s initial Career Day launched on February 15 with Sean John’s president Jeff Tweedy and, a month later, the country went into lockdown because of Covid-19. So founder Carla Nelson has been hosting conversations virtually and is finally ready for BFWF’s second annual two-day virtual career day March 25 to March 26. The focus of Black Fashion Career Day aims to address the lack of representation of Black people in the fashion industry and establish a platform for college and workforce recruitment while providing students with guidance in various facets of the industry. The goal, Nelson tells Grazia USA, is for attendees to leave career day with an actionable plan toward their dreams.
“One of the biggest challenges is the fact that we people of color have a lack of access,” Nelson continues. “This event is about providing access that they don’t know exists because you just have no clue what you are missing. Give people the visual so they know the opportunity is real.” Nelson recalls Michelle Obama saying she did not know she could be a first lady because she hadn’t even seen anyone who looked like her in that role. “The youth coming forward, the future generations, even the ones that are here now, have not been exposed to an event like this where they can see twelve, thirteen people on a main stage that they can identify with on various aspects of fashion to let them know, ‘hey, yes, there are challenges but these people made it and I can make it too.’”
Panel participants include makeup-artists, fashion psychologists, fashion scholars, regional fashion week directors, stylists, public relations specialists, and journalists. Ron Donovan, a footwear designer and creative director, will give the keynote address. “We were talking and I heard his heart,” Nelson tells Grazia USA. “He doesn’t call himself a life coach but he is an actualization coach, stimulating souls. He really had a passion for the event and coaching people into being all they could be.”
“I believe that mentoring relationships contribute greatly to the success of the individual mentee, as well as the collective; whether a particular organization, company, or industry,” Donovan tells Grazia USA. “Early on, as I embarked upon my journey as a shoemaker, I was blessed to encounter and gain two mentors with over 100 years of combined experience. It was these gentlemen that helped me evolve into the master craftsman I am today.”
Donovan continues: “As important as they were for me, these gentlemen and I met by mere happenstance. Career days like this upcoming one being presented by Carla Nelson and her organization, Black Fashion World Foundation, are tremendously special and important. They are deliberate vehicles for fostering meaningful mentoring relationships, and subsequent success.”
Early-bird tickets are available until March 1.