Designing Her Dreams: CF Grad Follows Her Passion For Fashion In New York City

After taking as may CFHS fashion classes as she cold, 2011 graduate Lisa Boelman enrolled in a fashion design program in New York City.

New York City is a city for big dreamers. Some of the biggest names in fashion made their start there, so Lisa Boelman, who graduated two years ago from Cedar Falls High School, went to the city out of high school to pursue her passion for fashion.

Boelman has been in love with fashion for many years. “I knew I wanted to go into fashion when I was 13. I then took Fashion 1, Fashion 2 and an independent study for fashion in high school,” Boelman said.

Moving to New York City wasn’t her original plan for after high school. “My original plan was to move to San Francisco, Calif., and go to FIDM out there. Long story short, it was way too much money, they didn’t have dorms and I would be in a lot of debt. All of this happened April of my senior year,” Boelman said.

After all of this fell through, she heard about FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York. “I didn’t have a backup plan but remembered hearing about a gal that had her own T-shirt line from Iowa. I emailed her, found out about FIT in New York (where she went), decided I would move to NYC, get New York residency and apply to school with the hopes I would get in and not have to pay out of state,” Boelman said.

Boelman is very busy right now with work and being a student. “Right now I work as a nanny one day a week and at Anthropologie clothing store in Soho along with being a full time student. I love both my jobs so much,” she said.

It’s safe to say that life in New York City is much different from life here in Cedar Falls, Iowa. “My relationship with New York City is a love/hate one. I would say I love it about 80 percent. I love how there is always something to do, places to go, food to try and how it really is the city that never sleeps. I don’t love how long it takes to get places. To get to school takes 45 minutes, my job takes an hour and sometimes you spend even longer on the train because of delays, but for the most part I really do love it here but I’m still so thankful I have Iowa to call my home,” Boelman said.

School has kept Boelman busy every week with projects, classes and more. “School is a lot of hard work. I have classes Tuesday through Friday. Wednesday and Thursday I am at school from 9 in the morning till 9 at night. My classes are great. I have sewing, draping, three art classes, pattern design and then taking two of my liberal classes. I am normally at school all day on Saturday working on projects and homework,” Boelman said.

It’s a whole new atmosphere at FIT. “This is one of the top fashion schools in the country, so you have a lot of talented people. You have to remind yourself you are not going to be the best at everything anymore and that you are really going to have to push yourself. Also, the teachers expect a lot from you. No missing classes, homework on time and neat looking. Also they will be critical of your work. You have to learn to not take it personal and remind yourself they are doing it to help you become the best designer you can be,” Boelman said.

FIT has so far has been a crazy and amazing experience for Boelman. She started FIT this fall term and already has grown so much as a young designer. “I have improved so much. Just in my drawing alone I have made huge improvements. I am also learning how to drape for the first time and make patterns. Each week I learn so much and the time is flying by,” Boelman said.

Since New York City is filled with celebrities, Boelman has already encountered some fame. “I have actually gotten the chance to help dress at a fashion show during Fashion Week. Such an amazing opportunity! I also helped Jane Lynch from Glee at Anthropologie once,” Boelman said.

To those wanting to pursue a future in fashion, Boelman has some suggestions she has learned from experience. “My advice to anyone who wants to go into fashion would be to keep sewing, sketching and soak up fashion in any way you can. Read any magazine you can get your hands on, watch fashion shows online, etc. Going into fashion is not for the faint hearted. It’s a lot of hard work, but if its what you love then go for it,” Boelman said.

Boelman is studying to get her two year associate degree in fashion design. It’s a lot of hard work, but she knows it will be worth it in the end. Her plans for the future are big; she believes one day she will design a red carpet gown. With all the perseverance she has put into fashion, she just might.

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