Tackling the fashion world is no easy feat — especially in a relatively small market like Oklahoma. It takes a lot of charisma, dedication, hard work and passion to open a fashion academy, especially outside major metropolises such as New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas. Locals Karen Snyder and Ragan Butler, both veterans of the fashion and
entertainment worlds, took a leap of faith nearly six months ago and opened A-List Fashion Academy in Oklahoma City. Little did they know that their big break would come from Edmond before they even opened the academy’s doors.
Fifteen-year-old Ellen Taylor is a 5’10″ natural blonde, blue-eyed Edmond North student who loves to strut her stuff in all things pink and frilly. But modeling had never really crossed her mind until her grandmother took notice of her statuesque build and suggested she give it a try.
Weeks away from opening, A-List Fashion Academy got their first knock on the door. “Ellen and her grandmother actually showed up on our doorstep while we were in the middle of redecorating,” Snyder said. Taylor was inexperienced with walking in heels and A-List figured they had a long road ahead. But she surprised them all by making her way into print and runway in no time. “After my grandmother got me into modeling, I just really loved it a lot,” Taylor said.
She began by soaking up all the information she could in A-List’s in-depth lessons on makeup, runway, healthy eating habits and body image. “We don’t just give them a 45-minute training session and unleash them on the world because they don’t know where to go or what to do,” explains Butler. “What we do give these young girls, 14 and 15, is a positive body image and self-confidence which puts them hands and feet above everyone else.”
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in the fashion world. “No one can guarantee that people will hire you. What we can guarantee is that these girls will come out of here trained, knowing how to do what they want to do,” Butler said.
For Taylor, there’s no doubt that adjusting to life in high school while balancing a modeling career has had its challenges. For now, she makes sure all her homework is done before she takes a job and tries her best to eat healthy. “It takes some hard work, that’s for sure. Staying healthy is really important to me,” she said. She adds that having a supportive family is really important when working in the modeling industry and her friends think, “It’s just so cool.”
Snyder and Butler plan to attract even more fresh faces for fashion by keeping their academy “old-school” where the attitude of “what you see is what you get” reigns supreme. In just six short months, they’ve placed models in Getty Images, Dillard’s fashion shows, a market show at Oklahoma State University and are currently working with Ford Models in Los Angeles. Taylor looks forward to many new doors opening for her. And the academy? They’re looking forward to many more knocks.
To learn more, visit A-listfashionacademy.com.