Editors note: from time to time a student will submit an essay that we feel very worthy of sharing with you. Today we repost (with permission) Kelsey Nord’s very special essay on why she wants to be a fashion stylist. Kelsey (and FSI) hopes that this will inspire future students to follow their dreams and awaken a passion! Thank you Kelsey for your super essay!

Let me tell you a story about a natural-born strawberry blonde with almond-shaped cadet blue eyes.  She was loved and showered with support from her two parents especially when it came to her dreams and imagination.  She loved to play dress up and not always the Disney Princess kind.  After all, she shared a lot of her time with her father in sports activities.  Her first real fashion moment was at the age of six and it much resembled the fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn.  She somehow fished out her mother's satin champagne dress, slipped it on and began to build on it.  First, she grabbed click-clackers or sling backs as we know them.  Looking at herself as she twirled in the mirror, she realized (as much as any six-year-old could) that it wasn't complete.  And in finding those missing pieces, she felt utter excitement and inspiration adorning herself with jewelry and accessories, sashaying her way around the room.  Her mother recognized how defining this moment was and kept with her to pass on in case her baby girl were to forget her way.

Fast forward through her years at school, she continued to express herself through her clothing.  In fact, she insisted on dressing and shopping for herself.  She idolized the Spice Girls as she too, wanted her own identity.  She identified with more than just one as she was "Sporty" and a little "Posh" but also sometimes "Baby."  It depended on the time and as her tastes changed, so did pop culture. 

As she got older, she continued to experiment with different styles and became a slave to what was trending then; her tastes in music, curiosity, and shopping hunger all intensified the more in the know she became.  She chose fashion magazines over literature every chance she got, bookmarking fashion jargon to improve her vocabulary.  Inevitably, her first real job was in retail her senior year of high school.  

She chose a college known for its fashion programs in a quaint town outside of Boston, Massachusetts.  A Fashion Merchandising major, she took classes that quite frankly had her feeling lost.  She felt overwhelmed with options but recognized her peaked interest when it came to Fashion History, Art, and Fashion Promotion.  On and off, she continued to work part time in retail, even on her holiday breaks.  It came natural to her—the fresh eye; dressing people and herself best.  Her shopping addiction was beyond her parents' comprehension, but she just couldn't stop.  And she found herself engaging with fellow shoppers as they would ask her online "Where did you find that?" or in the fitting room area "Do you think this looks good?"  This was where she knew she thrived, but alas, there were no styling courses at school.  She continued to ponder what it took to become Stacy London or Rachel Zoe.

Post college, she still didn't have but a clue of what she wanted or should do.  She knew buying wasn't ideal and stayed away from math if she could, but all entry-level jobs required it.  She landed an internship that was split Wholesale and Public Relations.  The sample closet was her domain.  It was her responsibility to keep it in tip-top shape; organized and aesthetically pleasing for all who would come to see and pull from.  She helped with closet pulls and dreamed of working for a magazine.  She loved being surrounded by product and learning about color stories. 

Doors opened for her shortly after in all types of freelance gigs, assignments, and roles.  She worked in visual merchandising for the top international brand known for its displays, visual standards and modern timeless aesthetic.  Still, something was missing, she was struggling financially, and found herself surrendering to peer pressure as it was expected that she get her own place (well, with a roommate).  She continued along experimenting, drifting and learning from each job thereafter; taking mental notes of what her skills were and weren't, what she understood and didn't and what she loved and hated.  Yes, to extremes.  Each lesson she learned was a step in the direction opposite of what she was doing.  Which was jumping from one paid freelance job to another and shopping on her lunch breaks—in stores and mobiley—on the train to-and-from the city.

In her time of a hiatus and suppressed dream of being a Fashion Editor, she took up blogging and photography as she searched for work—the kind of work that catered to her.  She applied tirelessly for jobs in e-commerce, styling, marketing, and publishing.  Close but still so far, there were no final round offers made.  But she realized, the more she busied herself with blogging, she was ultimately styling herself in an editorial manner.  Her style started to evolve and so did her overall ability to write about fashion.  She was well aware of her skill for shopping and finding things for people (and herself) but it was also a constant reminder that she wasn't actually a stylist.  Not really.  

One day, she finally concluded and took her dream by its roots—her first dream.  She shared with her mother of how much she needed this to happen.  She knew it was the profession that would give her immense joy and satisfaction.  So she took to her beloved MacBook and googled the qualifications of a Fashion Stylist.  Her trusted search listed and in the first bullet point read, "AICI Certification."  Past more research, she came across the perfect school that truly was custom made for her—Fashion Stylist Institute.  She knew this was where she was going to learn it all.  She knew there was plenty more to styling than dressing people and speaking eloquently.  She was excited to feed her mind and show what she had to give.  She knew she was going to grow from this continued education and rediscover her passion all over again.  And she was right.

I learned it all and then some.  This Certified Fashion Stylist course was truly invaluable.  I absorbed the lessons and took notes until my writing thumb tinged.  I excelled a hundred times more than I ever did in college or before which did wonders for my confidence and measure of self-worth.  I couldn't help but casually bring my knowledge into all my conversations with family and friends.  Because well, fashion as we know it is relevant to every moment in our lives.  My style changed further into following the rules—playing around in my closet, mixing and matching in the right way, and shopping more practically.  I hope to drop these wonderful words of wisdom upon the skeptics out there that scoff at fashion as if it is second-fiddle industry.  I hope to make a difference, one client at a time.  Cheesy as that sounds.

Today, my short story as my personal essay illustrates the long, at my own pace path to finding my way back to styling.  I know for a fact that my gift to others and the world is through the art of styling.  I found in my experiences that I thrive creatively as opposed to operationally.  What I hope to achieve with my certification is help women (primarily but not limited to) find their beauty outside their flaws and discover their own fashion personality (or several).  I'm excited to share this gift of education and expertise, practicing till it comes naturally—being able to identify skin tone and eyeball body types as if I have superpowers.  I plan to help my clients highlight their assets and teach them valuable tricks of the eye.  I want to create loads of PicCollage moments fit for anyone to take on the world; be it a milestone, interview, or just another casual day.  I want to attend fashion weeks and/or work them—carrying around my fancy dancy style kit perhaps in a luxury vintage Gucci.  More than a makeover, I want to build new standing relationships to never feel in between work ever again or to doubt my purpose in this world.  A certification will help me to approach prospective clients with confidence with that extra title to build a word of mouth reputation.  I see this AICI membership and FSI certification opening many new doors for me.  I already have an interview next week with the highest personalized styling service in my county next week.  Why?  Because I know I am more than qualified and without a second thought, went for it.  And did I say how grateful I am?

Years from now, I see myself practicing styling either in California or New York.  Perhaps my clients are celebrities and I get to travel the globe finally experiencing the fruits of Paris, Milan, Düsseldorf, and so on.  Maybe I will be styling for fashion editorial.  Both or neither, but my client book will always be a constant.  Maybe a memoir is in the books because I have so much more to share—turn my blog into a book to help guide other wanderers to their answer.  Though the future isn't completely crystal, I know I will be a Stylist first and foremost.  I hope to have these perhaps larger-than-life-type of opportunities to practice my passion to the best of my creative ability.  I've got the drive, certification, and rediscovered confidence that can take me anywhere really.  This profession gives me the liberty and freeness I was born with and desired all along.