Skip to main content

Finding Ashley Stewart Tour Chicago

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an amazing, empowering event alongside my mother, at a location that holds immense memories for me. This was the Finding Ashley Stewart Tour Stop Chicago at Ford City Mall. I don't even quite know where to begin so I'll just start with a huge thank you to Ms. Stacey Hall-Williams, a Store Manager for the brand, for giving me the invitation to attend and cover the competition! She treated my mother and I so well and even gave us front row seats for optimal viewing. She is awesome! Also, thank you to Ashley Stewart for hosting the event because I believe the entire concept is fantastic, to say the least.

The competition itself is a wonderful idea that gives curvy women the chance to strut their stuff and receive long-deserved recognition in the fashion industry. As both someone who has worked in fashion her entire career since my days of being a 15-year-old Nordstrom intern AND as a plus-size girl myself, I felt a special connection to this event. It was more than just something fun to do on a weekend. It was an opportunity for so many women who'd been bullied, oppressed and unappreciated for so long to get even 2 minutes to shine. The chance to rip the runway in your favorite fit with a cheering crowd, flashing lights and swarming paparazzi is a once-in-a-lifetime for some and an experience that I'm sure will stick with them forever.

One thing that I really enjoyed hearing was that Ashley Stewart offers opportunities to all finalists, even the ones who do not win the grand title. Hearing the experience of a former finalist and learning that she still received money, travel and opportunities after the competition was over brought a smile to my face. I love the idea of inclusion and rewarding people for making it so far in the competition because even if they aren't the "winner," they still win. The fashion industry is so cut-throat that it's hard to find companies who operate on that kind of initiative and I think it's something that needs to be not just acknowledged but praised. 

I love the fact that the women got a chance to talk about their lives and who they were before they walked. It demonstrated that there's more to being a model than just being a pretty face, or a puppet for a brand. Some of these women overcame abusive relations, homelessness, extreme grief, gut-wrenching heartbreak and much more. Strength, resilience, and prosperity were heavily embodied in the spirits of these women. They truly showed that women can conquer any obstacle, and do it with grace.


In my career, I've sat in front of easily 100 or more fashion shows. From high-profile and international held at palaces and royal ballrooms to up-and-coming local designers showcasing in the hood. Yet, this show was definitely one of my favorites. Not because the models were highly trained or suited in the most extravagant garb and makeup, but because it showcased REAL women who weren't a jaded product of the industry, who had been through REAL life and reasons beyond chasing fortune and fame for participating. I related to these women and their stories. And, I feel that if more of the industry would consider putting "role models" in the limelight sometimes and not just "fashion models," that a lot of positive change could occur.

Congratulations to all of the participants and especially the semi-finalists! It was an honor to be there supporting you! May you all have the best outcomes with your future endeavors.

My mom and I at the event <3

Follow Ashley Stewart: Instagram    Facebook
*photos by Ashley Stewart


Popular posts from this blog

About Me

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by! I'm Calynn, 20x Award Winning businesswoman, media personality and former pageant queen (Miss United States Universe Tourism 2021, Miss World America Nation 2020). I started this blog when I was barely 15 years old in January 2011 as a supplement to my application to the retail business internship at the downtown Chicago Nordstrom mall! I stayed there for 3 years learning the fundamentals of everything fashion business from sales and marketing to media and modeling. This was a phenomenal foundation to my career as it gave me the rudimentary knowledge and competitive edge that I needed to be successful!  From there, I went on to college and obtained my first degree in Business and Humanities (the arts and social sciences). I wrote as a freelance journalist and editor for several large publications and hosted live cable television for two years. I walked countless red carpets being a VIP media guest at major industry events all over the country a

38 Underrepresented World Wide Talents That You Need to Know!

In a world where so many great entrepreneurs and artists can become famous at the act of one viral video online, it's easy to get lost in the misconception that with social media's "power," anybody who is talented is already known. After all, it isn't as difficult to gain exposure and "get big" as it was 20 years ago before the Internet's Massive Media takeover, right? Partially yes, however, social media also makes the market 10x as saturated as it was 20 years ago. Thus, are you really that much further ahead if all of your competition has the means to one-up you, free of cost and inconvenience, just by posting to their online accounts? It's a lot to think about. That is why we here at The Fresh Faces Project work hard to make sure that the artists and entrepreneurs and do-gooders who are underrepresented and don't get the fame and acknowledgment that their talents merit are given a platform. That platform is us. When creating thi

The Search For "Mr. Right": 2 Years On Every App Taught Me This

  Over the last 2 years, I've been conducting what some could call a "social experiment." I have been single (by choice) for the better part of the last 2.5 years and had an epiphany a little over 2 years ago to give online dating services a shot! While it hasn't been the most miraculous experience, it has certainly been a valuable one! And, I strongly recommend that anyone who is looking to settle down with a life partner, give them a try! Maybe you don't need to sign up for almost every app known to man like I have LOL, but at least try the major ones. This blog is a detailed account of my findings as a young, sweet, successful woman with online dating.  For clarity, I've added the below chart for you to understand who I am and what I have to offer versus what I am seeking. This foundational knowledge is key to comprehending the results of my "experiment." I, as a 26 year old woman who is the CEO of a successful small business (