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Walking by Faith: Howard rocks the runway at New York Fashion Week



1-year old Olivia Carter Howard is a senior majoring in business administration with a minor in marketing. Howard is a native of Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

Olivia Carter Howard has always desired to walk the runway during a show at NYFW. “I keep posted notes in my room that incorporate modeling with all of my ambitions.”

This year, the 21-year old decided to buy a plane ticket to the big apple in hopes of getting a chance to walk in one of the world’s largest fashion shows.

“My friend and I started looking at flight prices really early since we are both college students with a limited budget,” says Howard. “We got some really good deals.”

After buying their plane tickets to New York, Sweet Talk Swim chose Howard’s friend to model in their show. Howard recalls direct messaging the premier bikini and apparel brand daily on Instagram. “I sent them my pictures, videos of my walk and commented on their post daily. They never responded.”

Upon arriving to New York, the Oregon native was determined to meet with other agencies in hopes of walking for their brand. Prior to trying to secure a spot for herself in the infamous NYFW, Howard accompanied her friend to practice for her upcoming show, Sweet Talk Swim. She immediately approached the designer, Cheyanne Anderson saying, “Although you haven’t met me, and I know you already have a crew of models that you want to walk for your line; I still want to walk for you.” The designer replied, “I’m in a rush so let’s go, let’s go.” After Howard quickly walked for her, the designer responded, “Oh, I want you to walk in the show.”

“I could not believe it. I went to the bathroom after practice, and cried on the phone with my mom for at least 10 minutes. I could not stop crying. The dream that I prayed about, diligently worked towards and manifested, came true.”

Defining beauty

Howard was surprised to see that girls of color still work twice as hard to be accepted in the fashion industry.

Olivia Howard stands in Times Square after walking in New York Fashion Week. She describes her experience as "surreal" and says "it was a dream come true."

After practice, she quickly learned that her 4c hair texture was frowned upon by the designer and other stylists. “Cheyanne touched my hair and said, ‘what are we going to do with this’. I was caught off-guard by that statement because, she is a woman of color and I really believe that my hair texture is beautiful.”

Howard further explains, “I went to buy a weave ponytail so the stylist could make my hair more acceptable for everyone before call time. I was not going to let my hair texture ruin this opportunity for me, so I conformed. I ended up loving the look that the ponytail provided for me but I still would have loved to wear my natural hair.”

Although the standard of beauty is evolving, Howard feels like the industry isn’t embracing those changes as quickly as most people would like.

“It’s 2019 so a lot of people think the traditional qualifications for modeling are different, but they aren’t. I am 6’2 and most of the other girls were slightly shorter and thinner than me. Some of the other models were from various countries like Australia and Canada and I felt like all of our diversity made the show uniquely beautiful.”

Living in the moment

While walking for Sweet Talk Swim, Howard soaked in every moment and ripped the runway like nothing else mattered.

“I felt calm and I was extremely focused on the now, which is rare for me. I wasn’t worried about anything or anyone, because for the first time in my life, I felt like I was living in my truth. It was the best feeling ever.”

Expounding further, Howard says, “After I walked, I felt so good. I was astounded that this moment really happened for me. When all of the models finished walking, it was a celebration. We were all so ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy. I felt like the dream I manifested for so long became a reality, right before my eyes. I am truly grateful.”

Most of the other models that walked in the show were no stranger to runways and Howard says, she didn’t find out that a lot of them were of high-status, until she began following them on social media.

“I couldn’t believe that some of the models had like a million followers on Instagram. That was so mind-blowing but also truly humbling for me.”

When asked to share advice regarding following your dreams, Howard replied, “Keep going, pray and manifest everything. You will get discouraged but persistence always wins the race.”

She continued, “Go into everything that you are passionate about doing with love, and make sure your motive is self-influenced. Perfect your craft, keep self-discipline and brand yourself. Most importantly, love who you are because no one else can do it for you. Once you master these things, everything else will fall in place.”

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