Where It All Started
Some of the questions I constantly get when people find out that I am a model is ‘How did you get into modeling?’ ‘What made you want to pursue a creative career?’ ‘Where did it all start?’ The short answer…Payless. Yes, the shoe store. I don’t even know if Payless is around anymore, to be honest! *Quick Google search* Supposedly, in early 2019, Payless filed for bankruptcy. Mmmkay… Well anyways, for the young kids who don’t know; Payless was a shoe store that had 6-foot-tall aisles of all different kinds of shoes from all different brands ranging from business flats to 5-inch stilettos. It was the go-to shoe store especially when you were on a budget or needed something last minute.
When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I can’t remember why exactly we went to Payless, but we did. As a young child, I was so fascinated by all the different styles of shoes. I remember running up and down each aisle, scanning every shoe that caught my eye. As soon as I saw a shoe that I liked, I would pull the shoe down from the shelf and slide my feet into whatever I could reach. I could hear my mom in the background, but I wasn’t interested in whatever black, Velcro church shoes she wanted me to try on. You know the ones that you wear the white frilly socks with? Yes, those. I continued to slide my foot in and walk around wearing whatever sandals and tennis I could find. Eventually, the world stopped and my eyes were fixated on these rainbow rhinestone closed-toed heels. They were the most sparkly and highest heels I had ever seen in my life! The way the lights dimmed around me and the spotlight shined over the shoes was literally like something out of a movie. I instantly grabbed them from the shelf and began to shove my foot inside. My mom quickly tried to stop me but like I said before, I wasn’t hearing it. “Mommy look! I can walk in these heels!” Of course, she wasn’t hearing me either. “No, you can’t Lauryn. Take those off before you hurt yourself!” “Uh-huh! Yes, I can!” And before my mother could utter another word, I stood up and began to walk down the aisle toward her. Who am I kidding?! I strutted across the Payless floor. I glided if you will, one foot in front of the other. No tripping. No wobbling. No stumbling. Just pure confidence. I could see the shock on my mother’s face as I lit up and began to laugh at my excitement. She was speechless. I felt like I was on top of the world! The rest is history…
I have always had a strong interest in the arts. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved trying on clothes, dressing nicely, and taking pictures. As the years went on, that passion never subsided. Even when my parents heavily encouraged me to stick to my studies and sports. I’d always manage to find myself in front of someone’s camera or playing dress-up for hours at a time. Being creative is definitely my way of expressing myself and is used as an outlet for me whenever I am stressed.
Once I got to college, I began meeting more people who were also interested in fashion and modeling. I began growing my network and would try to connect with whoever they knew as well. During my freshman year of college, I was one of the runway models in the African Student Association’s fashion show, allowing me to meet several designers and other models at my school. I loved how organized the show was and how seriously everyone took the production. A year later, I transferred schools and decided to audition for the NAACP’s yearly fashion show. The show was a success and I received a lot of positive feedback. This was when I knew I could take modeling more seriously. It encouraged me to continue my relationship with the aspiring models on campus and begin reaching out to other students at my school. I would message students on campus who had their own clothing brands to see if they would let me model for their business, and honestly, it worked!
Looking back now, 9 out of 10 times, whatever gig I’m working on or creative I’m working with, was cultivated through Instagram DM. By simply “shooting my shot” at makeup artists, fashion designers, and boutique owners; I’ve been able to jumpstart a modeling career. I figured out the best message for reaching out in a short, sweet, and professional manner. Putting myself out there has led to numerous fashion shows, e-commerce publications, beauty collaborations, television appearances, and so much more! Who would have known my entire modeling career would stem from a trip to a cheap shoe store on a random night after school? Little Lauryn walking around in Payless would be hyperventilating with excitement right now if she knew all that I’ve done so far. Knowing that right there is enough fulfillment for me. Until next time…
Love & Light,