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Kayla Sherman has wanted to be a fashion designer for as long as she can remember. As a young child, she used a computer program called Paint to create her designs and then later moved on to using pencil, charcoal and chalk. When she was in high school, she designed her own prom dress.
"I had very little knowledge on garment construction back then," she said. "But my friend, Carol Reeves, helped me through the process."
Today Kayla is quite proficient in sewing, draping and making patterns as she turns her design eye to the unordinary, the dark and peculiar.
"I believe boundaries are meant to be broken when creating garments," she said. "For they are pieces of art that tell a story."
Her highest inspirations lie within art, music and literature. "Edgar Allen Poe being my greatest muse," she said. "The way he wrote about the uncomfortable and mysterious in such a poetic manner gives me inspiration to create elegant and luxurious garments."
When she decided to pursue fashion design as a career, Kayla was concerned about the competitive nature of the business and the challenges that presented.
"The demand for designers is low with a high amount of people wanting in," she said. "The industry can be very cutthroat. It can be sink or swim."
It was also a completely different career path from the ones her siblings had chosen. Kayla’s sister, Stephanie Sherman, is a social worker and her brother, Nathan Sherman, is a civil engineer. Kayla credits her parents,Steve and Julie Sherman, as being her biggest supporters through all of her career decisions, as well as her fiancé, Vance Crook. The first of those decisions was where she should go to college.
"I felt that if I wanted to become a successful designer, and be taken seriously in the industry, I would have to attend a design school in New York City," she said. But what Kayla described as a "gut feeling" kept her closer to home. "I chose to attend Auburn University and I’m extremely thankful that I did," she said. "I’ve not only learned a vast amount about construction and the industry, but have held many leadership positions in the department."
She has taken a leadership role with the Apparel Merchandising and Design Association for two consecutive years, providing her with an opportunity to be involved with the department’s Annual Fashion Event.
"That consisted of portfolio displays, merchandising vignettes and a fashion show," she said. "I was head of styling in my junior year and co-coordinator of the event this year."
Kayla recently decided to pursue having her work showcased at the annual Birmingham Fashion Week. It was a challenging process that consisted of written applications, illustration and garment submissions and in-person interviews.
"This year was the most competitive one yet," she said.
In the end, 16 emerging designers were featured at Birmingham Fashion Week.
"I was blessed to be one of them," Kayla said.
She is currently interning for Suzanne Perron, a designer in New Orleans. "She makes most of the queen gowns for Mardi Gras," Kayla said. "They are absolutely breathtaking."
Although Kayla will graduate in August with an apparel design, production, and management degree, she knows her education will be far from over.
"Keeping up with the newest sewing techniques, fabrics and technologies are imperative to being successful," she said. And being a successful designer is the goal Kayla has set her herself. "I hope to become a distinguished brand," she said. "To show my work nationally and — hopefully — worldwide."Read more here:pink prom dresses