Allisah Kalen, sophomore in apparel design, grew up loving fashion. From a young age, she has been drawing pictures of clothes and claiming to be a future designer. However, her journey in college has not always been on the path it is now.
Kalen was not always in apparel design, but rather changed her major three times before deciding on the major she had dreamed of since the beginning of her college career.
In addition to being a student, Kalen is a working model and DJ.
Kalen said, however, she was not always on this track and said her lifestyle has changed a lot since first arriving at Auburn.
“I struggled with depression really bad, and I actually did terrible here,” she said. “I graduated high school with a 4.16 GPA, and I came to Auburn and failed my entire first semester except for one class I got a D in.”
Kalen said she silently struggled due to not knowing about the University’s free counseling services. She said she did not tell her mother about her depression in fear she would have to start paying lots of money for a therapist.
The aspiring designer said she got out of this rut by discovering her passions and pursuing what makes her happy.
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“I just started to find all these hobbies I’m passionate about, and I thought, ‘I need to get up and start doing something,’” Kalen said.
Kalen began reaching out to people over Instagram who were looking to hire cheap or free models so she could expand her portfolio. She began working with friends who were interested in photography so they both could get practice and pictures for their resume.
Kalen said the class she made a D in her first semester was her turning point.
“It was my art history class, and the teacher was so amazing,” she said. “I just started to realize that I had hit rock bottom because I could not answer any of the questions, and I was just sitting there crying. It was my turning point because I realized I was going to fail school.”
After this discovery, Kalen changed her major from graphic design to business. There, she said, she still struggled and realized she needed to stop listening to critics and pursue what made her happiest — apparel design.
Kalen said she is now excelling at her major because it makes her happiest.
She said she remembers her mother telling her how she would draw pictures of clothing when she was little and said she was a self-proclaimed future shoe designer.
“I’ve actually been on the dean’s list two semesters in a row,” Kalen said.
Today, Kalen is the president of the Auburn Modeling Board and is reshaping how this club gets its models more experience and jobs.
“I set up photoshoots for the girls and guys that are on it,” Kalen said. “It just gives them the opportunity to explore the hobby of modeling and helps them get their foot in the door of the industry if they want to pursue it.”
Kalen said she has a few famous role models she aspires to be like.
“If I could be whoever I wanted, I would be the next Gigi Hadid,” Kalen said. “I really like how Gigi has collaborated with a lot of designers like Tommy Hilfiger.”
Kalen said Hadid’s collaborations allow her to be a designer and model, which is something she is interested in.
She said she aspires to have a store that is more than meets the eye.
“I want it to be an experience where people come there just to see my store, almost like it’s a ride,” Kalen said. “I’m also really interested in meshing music with the fashion industry — I think it would be really interesting to have songs written to certain fashion lines and fashion lines for specific songs.”
Another one of her aspirations is to open a fashion house and be the next Versace or Gucci, Kalen said.
“They are just the top-of-the-top in the fashion industry, and I’d like to be up there, too,” she said.
Kalen said she will soon go to Chicago and Los Angeles to be an intern getting hands-on apparel sales experience while modeling the clothes.
“Don’t be afraid to ask,” Kalen said. “Once you find yourself, you attract all sorts of people in your life to grow.”
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