As long as I can remember, the little girl in me has always wanted to be a fashion designer. This is a dream that has lingered inside of my soul since I first learned to pick up colored pencils and draw outfits for me and my friends on the back of my spelling tests. However, as I’ve gotten older and slowly inched closer to this dream: attending fashion design college, creating my first few collections, and starting my own company – I quickly realized I was craving more. The long and lonely nights in the studios spent sewing made me crave connection and community. Little did I know, what was missing from my life would later be known as True Style.
Thinking back to how True Style came to be never fails to leave me with chills and the reminder of God’s constant love and provision. It’s truly a remarkable story, and one that I’m grateful for every day. In sharing this story, my hope is that you may be encouraged and inspired by how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18).
The story starts in August of 2019, as I was starting my senior year of college in Ohio and was also selected into a faith-based accelerator, Praxis’ Emerging Founders Program. This is a program that I originally felt very underqualified for, and quite frankly, was shocked I was accepted into. I was encouraged to apply by spiritual leaders in my life, just a few months after the organization saw my Bible-inspired fashion line at New York Fashion Week.
Upon acceptance into the program, I flew to Los Angeles to meet my fellow Emerging Founders and was blown away by their ventures. The 12 of us came from all different cities and represented all sorts of industries. Our ventures included everything from building laser technology for self-driving cars, to bailing those wrongfully convicted out of prison, to a jewelry business employing women transitioning out of homelessness.
I’ll admit, a part of me felt a little silly, since I was sitting amid this group of amazing Christian entrepreneurs as the youngest one, and I didn’t have a huge organization. Just my namesake fashion line. I didn’t feel like I fit in right away. I had imposter syndrome.
Throughout the next couple of months, I became best friends with everyone in the program, and we started to really open up to one another. I remember explaining to them that I didn’t just want to be a fashion designer. I wanted to work with young girls… help them navigate high school, tell them about all the creative career paths out there, and encourage them to follow their dreams.
Around this time, I had recently been featured on the cover of Focus on the Family’s teen fashion magazine, Brio, where they featured my designs but also told my story of loss and journey to redemption. The story told my testimony, and it opened up about my struggles with mental health, bullying, and losing my father to suicide early on in my life.
It was a deep story that took a lot of courage to share, but I believed that God needed other girls out there to hear it, too. What happened next was young girls reaching out to me, feeling encouraged and asking for advice on everything from bullying to how to apply to fashion design school.
I explained to my friends that helping those young girls is what made me feel alive again.
The desire to merge my love for fashion, God, mental health awareness, storytelling, and helping young women all came together when my friend Will introduced me to Laura.
It was early November, and I had just landed in NYC for our second mentoring event, and decided to catch a cab with Will into Manhattan. During the ride, I helped him with his pitch deck (even though he really didn’t need my help) and he let me vent to him about how I had a silk gown that was only half finished, and needed to be done when I returned back home. He asked me questions about the fabric and printing techniques I was using, as he always does, and that’s something that I’ve always admired about Will. He’s always interested in my fashion design work and fashion shows.
Little did I know, this same month Will would also be catching a ride in his hometown of DC with a woman who was looking for someone creative to join her in creating a fashion nonprofit for young girls.
Around Thanksgiving, Will had connected me and Laura via text, as I was sitting at my sewing desk working on a gown. I remember picking up my phone and responding immediately. Looking back, I’m not sure why I responded so quickly, because that’s not always like me to do – but I was excited.
The next few weeks were really eye-opening for me.
Laura and I had set up a time to video chat, so we could e-meet each other and I could learn the vision and mission of True Style. She proposed various roles in which I could join the team, but I already had that gut feeling that I wanted to go all in as a co-founder. True Style’s mission, to form role models on and off the runway, perfectly encapsulates everything I’ve dreamt of doing “when I grow up.”
Despite how perfectly this opportunity fit me, along with how kind and passionate Laura is, I felt I needed to bury this deep down in my heart and not tell anybody about it right away. There was no way this would actually happen. The stars would have to align. Was I even qualified to teach and mentor others?
I remember going to bed that night, praying about it for a while, and eventually falling asleep.
When I woke up, I grabbed my phone (still half asleep) and found an email from one of my previous college professors who now works at an arts high school. The email was something along the lines of “Hi MollyKate, I hope you’re doing well. If you are available, I’d like you to come lead a fashion design workshop at my high school. Our students would absolutely love to meet you and get the opportunity to learn from you.”
Alright, that was weird. I logged out of my email and into my text messages. I had one from Laura.
“Cool news: I’ll be in Dublin, OH on the afternoon of Saturday November 30th, and we’ll be staying just 20 minutes from Columbus College of Art & Design. Will you be in town? Maybe we can meet up in person!”
Not only was I in town, but I happen to live in Dublin and make that 20-minute commute to school every morning.
Laura is coming to my tiny hometown in Ohio. My professor wants me to lead a fashion design workshop at her high school. Alright God, I hear you loud and clear.
I went to Bible Study the next day and quietly brought up True Style when my friends asked if I had started applying to any post-grad jobs. “You know, I don’t really know if I want to go down the typical corporate fashion design track,” I mumbled. I held my breath, and my friends started cheering in excitement.
“MollyKate, that’s perfect for you.”
I later met with my mentor Randy, who has always been a source of spiritual guidance in my life, and he questioned why I was overthinking this so much. (Anxiety will do that to you!!) He left me feeling excited and very encouraged: “Don’t let this go,” he said.
As the months have gone by, the world has changed and things have shifted. I am now graduated from college, living through a pandemic, and some things feel uncertain at times. But one thing is sure: I am not letting this go. No matter how difficult starting a nonprofit might be right now in today’s climate, this is something that can’t be let go of. God didn’t promise this would be easy work – but we were led here for a reason.
I’m excited to see where True Style goes this next year and everything that Laura and I have yet to embark on. Through it all, Laura has become a dear friend of mine, and for that, I am thankful.
In the end, I don’t believe God calls any of us to one specific vocation. In fact, our callings as image bearers and Earthly citizens are all the same:
- Love God
- Love People
But I do believe that God can nudge us in certain directions that best allow us to fulfill those two callings.
For us, that’s True Style.