Ashley Austin ’11

Coco Chanel once said, “Be sure what you want, and be sure about yourself. Fashion is not just beauty, it’s about good attitude. You have to believe in yourself and be strong.” Fashion has become part of my outlook on life. I found a greater purpose for fashion that is absent of the superficial outlook that most people perceive it to have. As Coco Chanel points out, it is so much more than what is on the outside.

Fashion helps mold you into the person you want to be inside. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing or how much it costs; it matters how your clothes inspire you to be a better, more confident person.

It was always a challenge for me, while attending college, to defend myself and my choices to study marketing and fashion merchandising at a Christian college. But why study anywhere else? Seattle Pacific University taught me that there is a place for Christians in these fields and, although marketing and fashion merchandising have a reputation for being superficial and deceitful, there is another side overlooked by the public eye. SPU taught me to dig deeper and fight the general public opinion by showing what the world of fashion can really contribute to the world: confidence, inspiration, and self-admiration.

SPU prepared me for the fast-paced, ever-changing world of fashion more than I could have ever known. Right after college, I was offered an internship at my dream company, Nordstrom, and experienced life as a sales person … with some added benefits. As a Nordstrom intern, I was able to experience all the different facets of the company. I had the pleasure of taking leadership courses every week, attend multiple designer previews for the upcoming season, and work backstage at the Annual Nordstrom Fashion Show. It was everything I could have hoped for.

After the internship, I had proven myself as a sales person and was offered a position on the Nordstrom team. I worked at the Alderwood Mall Nordstrom for about a year before deciding I needed a change of pace and scenery. I transferred to the downtown Seattle Nordstrom Rack during its grand opening at its new location. Needless to say, it was too much of a change of pace and I began interviewing for buying office assistant positions in the corporate offices to utilize my skills in merchandising and business. After three months of interviews, I was offered a position in the TBD buying office, and I am enjoying every minute of it.

SPU has been a very integral part of my success within my post-college experience. Not only did my education give me peace of mind with my choice in career, but it also gave me the confidence to go after highly competitive and challenging positions.

I’m confident in my skills and abilities to provide the company with high quality work. Everything I have learned in my business and merchandising courses makes sense on a whole new level — professionalism, merchandising systems, and business concepts all came together and aided me in doing a good job in my field.

In addition, Seattle Pacific prepared me for so much more than the corporate world. It prepared me for all the ethical challenges and faith-related issues that manifest themselves in everyday life. SPU taught me how to deal with those issues so I could sustain a healthy and balanced work-life relationship.

Although I am in the earliest stages of my career and have many goals for my future within the fashion industry, I feel as though God has led me to this position for a reason. I feel as though I was placed in this career to make a difference and show my dedication and commitment to help people find confidence, self-admiration, and inspiration within themselves and the world.

I have so much gratitude for Seattle Pacific and all the professors who inspired me and worked hard to teach me everything I know today. I could not have made it this far without my education and all the wonderful supporters who taught me to believe in myself.

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