Casey Eby decided to her trade her rifle and body armor for fashion design when she came to FIDM in 2012. Now her sights are set on a BS in Business Management, followed by an MBA, and her own women's fashion/jewelry line. Here's how she does it.
Tell us about your military service.
I served in the U.S. Air Force, where I met my wonderful husband of 4 years. We both served in Texas together, then at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. I loved the military and was passionate about my career as a Military Police officer, though somehow, I was not fulfilled. I would find myself sketching clothing design ideas in my duty notebook and I was always looking at fashion blogs and websites. I dragged my husband to fashion week in Paris, which was about 5 hours away from where we lived, just so I could be around the industry.
How did you find FIDM?
I originally heard about FIDM in 1999 when a representative came to my high school in Napa, northern California. I took a tour of the San Francisco campus and loved it, but I decided not to pursue a career in the fashion industry because unfortunately my family was negative about my pursuing an artistic career. The consensus was that I would not be able to support myself with a "creative career." Not following my heart is the greatest regret of my life!
How did you make the transition to fashion college?
I was injured on duty and could no longer serve in the military. This was a blessing in disguise. It took some major prayer and support from my husband, but HE convinced me that Fashion was where I belonged. I hung up my M4 and my body armor, with my GI bill in hand. I applied to FIDM LA while I was still living in Germany, waiting for my official military release paperwork. It was never a question in my mind where I wanted to go to school. I contacted FIDM and Jeanette Guevarra, the counselor who interviewed me in 1999, still had my paperwork on file. It was like it was meant to be!
What was your major?
I was accepted to FIDM's Fashion Design program within a few weeks of submitting my portfolio. I moved back to LA from Germany and started the Fashion Design program in fall of 2012.
What did you like best about the program?
I loved that the Fashion Design program gave me a taste of all facets of the industry, from garment construction, pattern making, to Gerber. I graduated with a better idea of what avenue of the industry I wanted to pursue. I went to FIDM not knowing how to sketch. This was always a huge frustration for me because I had so many ideas in my head, but my hand could not communicate them to paper. Thanks to the amazing guidance and patience of Ms. Nancy Riegelman (My sketching Goddess!), I was able to learn the language of fashion sketching. This has opened up a whole new world of creativity for me.
What was your education experience prior to FIDM?
Prior to FIDM I had taken some college classes at JCs, but it was always a half-hearted attempt. I did not see the general classes offered in a traditional college as applicable to anything I wanted to pursue as a career. I dropped out because I was so frustrated with the traditional college system. It didn't make any sense to me.
At FIDM, I was able to understand why I was taking the classes in the program and that they all teach useful skills. Even the professional speaking class became an opportunity to get myself comfortable talking about my future business model.
What are your plans after graduation?
I am currently pursuing my BS in Business Management at FIDM and will have my BS degree July of 2016. I have been thinking of going on for my MBA with Pepperdine School of Business.
My professor, Dr. Morrison gave me some great advice; he said to make it a graduation present to myself to have a proposal for my first business completed by the time I walk for my Bachelor's. With a solid business plan, and a fire under my butt to get it done, I will be opening a luxury e-commerce site. I have been working on a jewelry line, GalleonJewelry@Etsy.com for the last few years. I plan to establish my retail brand and eventually expand into an in-house women's ready to wear line coupled with the jewelry.
Did you do internships in the industry?
I landed my first internship as a design assistant with Heidi Merrick Studio. This was an amazing internship and I worked with her for eight months! The best teacher is hands on! I am a firm believer that if you want something, GO GET IT! Don't wait on anyone else, go pound the pavement and make things happen for your own career.
Advice to future/current students?
FIDM helped to make my passions for designing clothing and jewelry gel together with my goal of owning a successful business. I would encourage any future FIDM student to treat this education as an investment in yourself. You will learn new skills that may be difficult, but give it all you've got. Eventually those weaknesses will become future strengths.
Turn your dreams into goals and write them out on paper. Keep them in front of you until you make them become your reality.