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Meet Gabriela Peregrina -- Winner of the 2015 TwirlyGirl FIDM Scholarship

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One of the most gratifying parts of creating a successful business is giving back to the community.  In 2015, we created the TwirlyGirl Scholarship Program.  This scholarship is open to all current students of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, here in Los Angeles.  To apply, applicants had to answer a few essay questions about themselves.  Choosing as winner was difficult, because we were flooded with so many amazing and inspiring responses.  

TwirlyGirl is thrilled to announce that Gabriela Peregrina is the winner of the 2015 TwirlyGirl - FIDM Scholarship. Gabriela will take home a check for $500 which will help her with tuition and books. Congratulations, Gabriela.  We believe in you!  You can read her winning submission below.

When I was sixteen years old, I was assigned to watch Vogue's documentary "The September issue" with my fashion career class, and after seeing how Grace Coddington put her creative flow into the magazine, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Later in the semester I decided to keep getting involved in fashion and signed up to help direct, design and model in my school district's annual fashion show and after being exposed to the creative drive that this industry can allow to you have, the rest is history.

One of my main fashion inspirations is, previous mentioned, Vogue's very own Grace Coddington, who opened my eyes to an industry where you can truly be yourself and stand out if you please. She also showed me how you should not let anything or anyone stop you from achieving your life goals. Coddington being a former famous supermodel who's modeling career terribly ended in a fatal car accident, decided not to let that event stop her from continuing to succeed in the industry she loved, instead it encouraged her to put her previous modeling experience into action by working behind the scenes as the Creative Director of Vogue and helped the magazine reach its ultimate creative drive and continues to making it the top fashion magazine in the world.

Stylist and Fashion Businesswoman Rachel Zoe is another of my fashion inspirations, who started her own business from the bottom and now currently has an estimated 10 million dollar net worth which continues to grow daily. Zoe is never afraid to take risks, from graduating with a psychology major, not related to fashion at all, and moving to New York City to pursue a career in the fashion industry, to starting her very own clothing line without any previous designing experience and getting that line to showcase at Fashion Week in a short amount of time; Rachel Zoe has showed me to be fearless in the business world and to always be willing to take risks that can help you in the long run.

My ultimate career goals are to become a successful creative director and event producer in the fashion industry. I am hoping to achieve these goals by gaining experience and networking as much as I can which will help me build connections that will later land me a job in the industry. I have been gaining experience in the fashion industry by interning with companies such as Billabong, a top international surf company, where I got to intern for a year as a Women's Merchandising and Design intern and as a Marketing intern. During my time with this company I got to learn the insight process of how a line is developed and designed, as well as how marketing campaigns are pitched and later advertised to the public. I also got help produce editorial campaigns, style lay down photo shoots and got to take part of the photo selection process before they went out to final revision.

During my first year of college, I decided to apply to intern for Project Ethos which put together their very own annual Los Angeles Fashion Week event, and ended up being part of their team as a Production Intern from October of 2011 to March of 2014. I helped them produce five LA Fashion Week events, four model castings, and one special San Diego fashion show. This was my first insight into the event production aspect of the high fashion industry. Shortly after this internship, I got to help produce events for Orange County Fashion Week as an event coordinator where I helped manage all fashion shows, and model castings within my two seasons with them. I was also in charge of keeping all of their social media up to date and advertising all of their events.

Besides interning for great companies and growing my network within them, in January of 2013 I started working on side projects as a freelance stylist which have helped me make a name for myself locally in the industry. I have helped various companies style, produce and coordinate their editorial photo shoots which have allowed me to put my very own creative twist to their marketing campaigns and show the public what I am capable of.

When I was thirteen years old, my parents broke the horrible news to me that we were moving to The United States after living in Mexico all of my life. Packing up my stuff, leaving my friends behind, and learning a completely new language at a very young age sure affected my sense of style. From attending private strict Catholic schools all my life to getting enrolled to a very liberal "you do you" public middle school was definitely a huge change of pace but I learned to cope with it and attempted to blend in with the social circles at my school, and I absolutely cannot stand blending in.

In the beginning everything felt, in my very own words, "alien like". I went from wearing my hair in a sleek ponytail and a very natural look, to trying to fit in and wearing pounds of heavy makeup and frying my curly hair until I gained that "natural" straight hair out of the magazine look. I was lost and did not know who I truly was anymore. One day I was watching MTV and a music video by a new singer named Taylor Swift started playing, the song was "Our Song", she was rocking her very own blonde curls and her unique style automatically caught my attention. After watching that music video and seeing the creative flow she gave off by being the only country singer playing on MTV, I decided to find my own style, and stopped trying to make my mom buy me the newest overpriced named brands, and finally embraced my naturally curly hair. Later in the semester people started commenting on how much they liked my unique style and hair and even saw a couple of my friends attempt to curl their straight hair so it could look like mine. This made me learn that people liked me more for who I really was instead of the person that I portrayed to be. My style started defining who I was and gave me self worth when I walked around the school.

Defining my style is very difficult since it truly relies on my mood, which means I can go from wearing black platform heels with a flowy boho-chic dress, to a skater skirt with high tops, and a leather jacket. What I love about fashion is that you are always allowed to take risks, and from my previous experiences and what my fashion icons have taught me I have learned that you should never be afraid to be different from everyone else because it could help you be remembered by others. No one is going to talk about the shy girl in the corner that is wearing the overpriced out of the magazine outfit, the one who is really going to be in people's minds is the girl who dances to the beat of her own drum which is automatically seeing through her personal style. I tend to shop at thrift shops and local boutiques where I can find clothes that no one else knows where to obtain and will always make my closet different from others. I am the girl who rocks the platform heels to the grocery store and embraces the looks from the conservative shoppers who would rather blend in than being talked about.

When it comes to my work ethic, I also learned to be fearless. From experience I have seen that if you never voice your opinion or are too afraid to talk to the important CEO of the company, you will never succeed or get to where you want to be. For example, at Billabong I started working with the design team as their head designer's intern, but ultimately wanted to get more involved in the marketing side of the company. Other people stayed quiet and did not make any progress, but I talked to my friend who was a designer for them and begged her to introduce me to the photo shoot producer of Billabong, who I later ended up asking if I could join the marketing team as her intern, which I ended up achieving the following semester.

My fashion inspirations, career goals, past experiences, work ethic and personal style define who I am today and the word that can truly summarize all of that is: FEARLESS. I always tell my friends to be fearless in everything they do because I truly believe that you will never see any progress if you are too afraid to voice your own and unique opinion.

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