by Marie Harris
At ALA Annual, Kelly Czarnecki and Jimmeka Anderson will accept YALSA’s Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults 2012 Program Award for the Teen Fashion Apprentice program at ImaginOn.
This unique program, first developed in 2012 by Jimmeka Anderson and Kelly Czarnecki, has expanded and grown to now include workshops at five library branches, with apprenticeships awarded at three locations in 2013. “The program gives them [the teens] the chance to get more hands-on experience… and see if it’s something they want to do in the future,” says Jimmeka.
The program is in full swing again this summer. At a small neighborhood branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in the Mint Hill community, designer Tara Davis of Flow gave seven girls insight into the fashion industry on June 14th. She brought her intern, Kiara Harris, and they’re talked with the teens about their experiences in the fashion industry. Kiara shared her pictures of visiting fashion meccas in London and Atlanta and talked about her coursework at the University of Kentucky. Tara shared pictures of models wearing her designs in print and on the runway.
The teens love it! It’s their dream—to have clothes or accessories that they designed showcased on runways here in Charlotte, or even abroad. It was just one of 16 programs held on different days at different library locations throughout Mecklenberg county.
The Teen Fashion Apprentice Program at the library aims to make those dreams come true. They provide programs, training, and connecting teens to professionals in the industry, whether it’s designing a fashion board to try their hand at fashion forecasting — the program in Mint Hill — or learning how to walk the runway, do professional hair and make-up, get into the fashion program at the college or university of their choice, take professional-level photographs, or target public relations and marketing.
All of these interest-specific programs throughout the library system in June and early July build up to a Teen Fashion Week, slated for July 15-19. Every day that week there will be professionals on hand at ImaginOn to help teens dream up, design, and create a fashion piece to be showcased Saturday, July 20. The fashion show has gained notoriety since last year! As early as February Teen Loft at ImaginOn staff were fielding phone inquiries about the program, and some inquiries have come from as far away as Chapel Hill, NC (about 140 miles away from Charlotte, NC)! The top ten contestants in Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Teen Fashion Show will then have the opportunity to showcase their creations in Charlotte Fashion Week in September, alongside adult designers from all over the nation. The winning teens will also be placed in a three-day apprenticeship with a fashion industry professional to get hands-on real-world experience.
Congratulations to Kelly and Jimmeka and the rest of the Charlotte-Mecklenberg youth services staff, the fashion professionals who volunteer their expertise, and most of all the very fashionable teens.