I couldn’t believe it. At the tender age of 15—not a boy, not yet a man—my dream suddenly seemed entirely within reach. I wanted to be a fashion designer. Badly. When I wrote a letter to one of my favorite designers, Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons, I had no expectation it would go anywhere. I just wanted to express my appreciation and gratitude for the radical and transgressive beauty her clothes brought into the world. I was shocked when I received a reply.
My letter had been forwarded to the New York offices, and the people there said they were excited to hear from me. They even made me a job offer. They told me that when I turned 18, if I moved to New York City, they’d give me entry-level employment. I was elated, not quite fully understanding the slow-burn torture I was about to run head-on into. Three years feels like a very long time to wait at that age, especially for a dream so palpably close to coming true.
I thought about my future constantly, this move to the big city to work for the influential fashion house. I saved money for what felt like an eternity, continuing my work on sewing and studying everything I could about the industry. When I turned 18, I was on a train to NYC within days. I arrived with a dream in my heart and stars in my eyes.
Then, reality set in.
My job lasted about two months. I was in way over my head, and everyone seemed to know it, especially my boss. When I finally realized it too, I felt nauseous—like all the inertia and momentum that had seemed to propel me toward my destiny had instantly fallen apart. It wasn’t only that I was in over my head; I didn’t like the work. I wasn’t making clothes. I wasn’t doing anything creative. I was filing papers in a basement office on Wooster Street. It was nothing like I pictured.