Letter to my students

Dear student,

You are embarking on the next four years of your young adult life and it will be scary.

You are like a small seedling that has started to open up, under the earth, in the dark, finding its way to the light and it will not be easy.

You will need water, the nutrients of the soil, and the right temperature in order to make that journey into the light less strenuous.

You may get more water, or no water, less nutrients or none at all and the temperature may rise at times or not at all. But unlike a seedling which will not survive when all of those things radically change, you CAN and will.

You already have been through storms that you thought you couldn’t weather and you’re here.

You may still be going through battles where you are the lone soldier on the battle field and you’re here.

And it will NOT get any easier. I have been told and have experienced that NOTHING worth having IS EASY.

You will come into your own and in these four years you will begin to decide who you are or who you want to become. You will experience deceit, betrayal, ridicule, embarrassment, envy, rage, isolation, anxiety, sadness, rejection, pain and a whole other myriad of feelings that could overwhelm you but won’t because they will pass as all feelings do. What you must remember is to learn from each and every one of these feelings because they will prepare you for the next part of your journey towards adulthood.

And then there’s us, the adults in the building on the sidelines.

We are listening, observing, witnessing, assisting, empathizing, guarding, counseling, providing, offering, servicing, feeding, trusting, praising, and teaching you.

Some of us are the water you need to grow, while some of our lessons can be the nutrients you need to evolve. And some of us can be the temperature you need to ignite your motivation.

Most of us remember what it was like to be your age. Most of us remember the rocky road, the highs and lows, the needing to be liked and accepted, and the struggle it is ‘growing up’. And today we decide to be the adult we wish we had when we were your age because today we know better. And this means saying ‘No’, even when you want to hear ‘yes’.

Today, as adults we understand that not everything you want is good for you, not everything you do becomes you, not everything you say, must be said. There will always be exceptions to rules, yet the rules must be explore and respected. This too will prepare you for the next part of your journey into adulthood. Cause even we as adults, have rules to abide by.

Every no does not mean we do not love you. It means we are doing yet another thing in the building, we are PROTECTING you.

As your stem breaks through the earth, remember it’s like stepping into the light. With each passing day, every obstacle you overcome, every lesson learned, every struggle you endure can only make you stronger. It can be as if you’re leaving the dark, if you allow joy, pride, happiness, generosity, compassion, patience and self-love to be worth MORE than the bad feelings.

May your roots embed themselves on firm convictions and the lessons learned in this building assist you in other spaces.

Grow to become the adult you aspire to be.



Ms. Chavez

Outside of our Comfort Zone

It has come to my attention how darkness is not always negative. Growth happens beneath the earth, in the absence of light, where seeds are sewn and the cultivating begins.

The seedling cracks through with imagined pain in order to push through the dirt towards the sunlight in order to one day bare fruit or not.. the process is what is important to note. Like life we begin with small steps familiar to all, lived by all, from the first breath to the first failure, whatever that may be, yet the important thing is to keep going.

This happens every day and the more it is done, the more it is the norm. So what if the predestined road was not your route to your destination? What if you are destined for more than what you were told?

How do we, with fear step outside of our comfort zone?

I began my journey in my young adult years, BELIEVING I was going to teach at an early age. That wasn’t the case, a catastrophic failure took me outside of my comfort zone and I went as far as moving to the other side of the world to get away from all that was familiar, yet teaching happened to still be my destination, it just took more LIVING in order to become a better teacher.

Today I subconsciously surround myself with this unique sort of people, the Webster dictionary classifies them as entrepreneurs. They dare to not only see themselves in a different light, they enter it, they absorb it, like the seedling that needs it to grow. They use it like nourishment and grow. They fulfill their purpose and by doing so, they allow the community to grow.

I have joined this one truly remarkable entity that has as its mission to be a fueling agent between designers and tangible success. Black Fashion World seeks to be the connection of knowledge, resources, and a networking web for primarily under served, underrepresented, unsung Black and Brown designers. In a multi-million dollar industry, only 1% of the designers fit that group and according to BFW’s founder Carla Nelson, ‘It is time to be part of the solution.’

April Walker of Walker Wear is a legend and a fitting example of entrepreneurial success. She shared her insightful wisdom as the guest speaker to a cocktail fundraiser for BFW in Harlem’s Mintons Playhouse with like minded guests that are a part of the solution. The guest list had established designer’s such as Mr. Wilbur Pack, Jr. of SKWilbur to budding ones, like FIRST IMPRESSIONS, Taide Argelia, whom stepped out of her comfort zone, teaching what she lives for, Fashion. Fashion High hated to see her go, yet how can we stand by and not encourage the growth of one of our own, when this is what we preach and encourage in our youth?

I must say, thanks to those that can dive into the unknown, with inherent fearlessness and tenacious drive, to the complacent, they serve as the much needed example..

the needed push..

the needed nudge..

to step outside of our comfort zone.

BFW April Walker-Carla Nelson

BFW CEO Carla Nelson

BFW April Walker

April Walker

BFW April Walker-ChatBFW April Walker-Audience

BFW April Walker-WilburandVelvet

Wilbur and Velvet

BFW April Walker-NelsonandBroadbelt

Evelyn and Taide

DON’T : Follow the more traveled path towards growth

DO : Dare to discover your PURPOSE

New York City Teen FASHION Week

Many of our students enter our decades, almost century old institution with the dream of becoming a fashion designer as famous as Coco Chanel, or maybe humbly, a more modern designer like the ‘next’ Narciso Rodriguez. Whether it be either, both share the same beginnings of many of our students, they came from very little.

After four years, our fashion design students take different routes. As their adolescent personalities discover more and more about their own identities, they may decide, justly so, that Fashion as a career is not for them. Some may realize that they are creative yet not in the needle trades, or some may decide to explore another field completely different from the one they began. Such is the story of HSFI Alumnus Tiffany Barlow, whose interest started in Fashion Merchandising and now is studying Pre Law.

Yet for the few, whom for which Fashion High only served as the ignition to their passion for Fashion Design, these four years are ONLY THE BEGINNING!

At Fashion High those few are in their blissful surroundings, their second home, encircled by kindred spirits that understand what they feel, because they love what they love and to see them at work, from an adults perspective can inspire hope in humanity. The vicious competition that stenches the industry has not set in, their adolescent need to want to belong and loved propels them to help each other.

Its a hopeful sight in today’s malicious world.

And just imagine, aside from all they learn, the peaks they can climb towards their final elevation, when their High School introduces them to a professional Fashion Show just for Teens! and showcased the same weeks as New York Fashion Week!

Eight of our Seniors did just that!








& Lashira

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DO – Pursue your Passion with FERVOR

Don’t – Believe that it’s too late nor that you have all of the time in the world

Passing it ON..

This year marks our 3rd time in Florence..

Our students have invested their summers with Florence University of the Arts studying courses such as Florence Sketchbook, Italian Food & Wine, Italian Language, Retail and Hospitality..

This past summer three of our students were able to go thanks to FUA’s generosity. Their scholarship opportunities gave them the chance to have their ‘impossible’ turn into ‘possible’ and along with 7 other young ladies, discovered what fuels their passion. 

They have returned with stories, moments, lessons to tell, to share and tonight they spoke their hearts out to our guests from Harry S. Truman High School. Culinary students with their mentor/instructor Chef Brylski came and joined in this years presentation.


Cookies ready to be decorated….



CHEF Simone begins the Demo…






Artistry in Action…



We were so happy to have shared our time with other high school students that believe in their future and work hard towards making it happen..

This year one of Harry S. Truman High School Seniors will have the opportunity to travel to Florence to further their passion for the Culinary Arts..

We at The High School of Fashion Industries have been blessed 3 times and how better to show our appreciation by Passing it On…

to others that love what they do, as much as we do.



When you DON’T give them the Answer

When you want to know something, anything,

you don’t wait for the answer to be handed to you.. 

You do what you must to obtain the answer.

A question was posed and the tools were given; the students were challenged and work towards finding the ANSWER TOGETHER

This slideshow requires JavaScript.