What started as a clothing line has now blossomed into a non-profit organization with a buzz that is spreading statewide and beyond. With annual fashion and art shows, Heart of it All Fashion (HOA) is a platform for aspiring artists, designers, stylists, and others looking to get experience in the fashion industry. I got the chance to sit down with founders, Nadi and AC, before their trip to Fashion Week Brooklyn, so we could talk about how the movement came into fruition and their plans to expand in the future.
Written by: Khrystian McCalister
Heart of it All Fashion was created in 2014 while Nadi and AC were in attendance at the Ohio State University. “I’m more of the visionary, and Nadi keeps everything structured and running smoothly,” AC explained in their interview. “He’s the hippie, and I’m the nerd,” Nadi said. The brand began as just a clothing line and transformed to an organization once they hosted their first two fashion shows in 2015. Their organization is designed to be an outlet for those with a passion for fashion and art, basically anyone who plans to make waves in our current culture. In our sit down, the pair enlightened me on just how much effort they have been putting into their organization, making sure that each member involved will be readily equipped to work for others in the industry and even for themselves. As stated by Nadi, “Heart of it All Fashion is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3)organization dedicated to the education, promotion, development and support of aspiring fashion talent. We offer a platform for people that represent every art form to showcase their talents which allows us to add to the fashion culture of Ohio from the ground up.” Heart of it All Fashion currently has one student chapter at The Ohio State University and often partners with other businesses, student groups, and organizations in and around Ohio and New York.
With the business still in its startup phase, Nadi and AC turn to their student chapter at The Ohio State University to ensure the organization is progressing. Students who join the OSU campus chapter work year-round to produce their annual Fashion Experience each spring. The students are divided into 5 committees including event planning and production, public relations, digital media, art and design, and the model committee. “We have a great team at Ohio State. We come in our meetings and we do work; we don’t party or play around. I try to guide the students and assign them to projects that will benefit them in their future endeavors. This way, they feel more motivated to get it done and grow from the experience,” Nadi shared with me. She and AC beamed about how dedicated their committees are to the success of Heart of it All Fashion. The goal is to help all members build their connections, personal brands, and resumes while working with Heart of it All Fashion. Teamwork is definitely what makes the dream work!
“We come in our meetings and we do work; we don’t party or play around.” – Nadi
Heart of it All Fashion is always searching for new talent to mold, and offers free model clinics to give any and every person who shows interest the opportunity to become more skilled in modeling. The model coaches include students who are part of their committee that possess the skills to teach and help aspiring models improve and potentially work or volunteer at HOA fashion shows. Altogether, the organization has hosted a total of seven fashion shows since 2015. The most renowned are their Street Wear and Couture shows which make up the “Fashion Experience” hosted in the spring. In the past, these shows have seen a turnout of about 600 people combined. Some of AC and Nadi’s favorite designers from their past shows include Proper Gnar, UnderGod, Dee Hayes, and De’andre Crenshaw, all talented designers that showed out at their productions. An art exhibition was also hosted in 2015, and brought out an audience of about 400 people. That’s pretty good for a start-up organization if you ask me!
As a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization, Heart of it All Fashion has established an internship program which allows students to gain tangible work experience while completing their education. During our interview, I was able to speak with some of their most promising interns who were also heading to Fashion Week Brooklyn as production assistants.
- Cody, 22, is interning as the art director. She oversees all aesthetics and photography. She aspires to be a fashion photographer and stylist.
- Jeff, 23, is a model and modeling coach who serves as the co-head of the modeling committee. His goal is to break the mold for modeling and become the face of Dr. Martens.
- Owen, 21, “brings the energy” as he said. He is great with networking, so naturally he serves as part of the PR team. Owen is currently a freelance stylist with goals to keep growing and making connections. He will be hosting a fashion show in Paris in 2017.
- Tong, 21, is the assistant production manager, overseeing the direction and balance between the model and production committees. She’s pursuing modeling and fashion in addition to her degree in the medical field.
All of the interns expressed their passion for working with Heart of it All Fashion. “It was a blessing in disguise,” Jeff stated, “HOA helped me become a better model by working
with other models. I’ve gained a lot of experience working with them.” The interns are going on to do great things as a diverse group of students working together creatively to make HOA what you see today. The internship program is early in its inception, so all attendees are paying out of pocket for the trip. The goal of Heart of it All Fashion is to gain funding for their internship program so they can continue to travel to fashion weeks and related events in and around the globe, and channel more money into their curriculum to benefit the interns. Tong expressed the respect she has for the movement saying, “Heart of it All Fashion actually gets things done. Seeing the progress being made makes me feel proud to be a part of this.” These interns have seen the benefits of working with HOA first hand, and told me all about the experience they have gained by being involved. Although each intern has a different role, they all learned how to express themselves and hold themselves to a higher standard by pursuing their dreams. Skill building, resume building, and confidence building are just some of the key functions that Heart of it All Fashion serves for its members.
AC and Nadi have brought HOA a long way since 2014, but they still have a number of goals they are working to accomplish. Some of these goals include expansion to other colleges, receiving major funding to assist with the overall vision of the organization, and opening a fashion house that will serve as a resource center for those in the fashion and related industries. The Heart of it All Fashion organization is not just a business for Nadi and AC. “The most satisfying thing for me is seeing the growth in our students as we hold our weekly Sunday meetings,” Nadi stated. “We see the most growth as a group after the fashion shows, and that is so important to our growth as an organization.”
” Seeing the progress being made makes me feel proud to be a part of this.” -Tong
What started as idea is now taking flight as a legitimate nonprofit organization, with annual fashion experiences and an internship program. “It gets hard sometimes, but we gotta keep pushing no matter what. We don’t want to disappoint anybody,” AC explained in our interview. Anyone who wants to be involved with Heart of it All Fashion can call, email, or contact them or their website. They are always searching for new talent and aim to help out as best they can. With no plans of stopping soon, Heart of it All Fashion is on its way to becoming the greatest platform for rising talent in the fashion industry. The best is yet to come.
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