Chattanooga fashion designer TLé on Tuesday told eighth-graders at Chattanooga Valley Middle School she’s happy she didn’t listen to her mother, who said she was wasting her time with sewing.
TLé, who uses only one name, spoke to students about entrepreneurship and fashion. She recently completed her first fashion show, and she’s been featured on “Entertainment Tonight.”
“I never thought in a million years I’d be a fashion designer,” TLé said later in an e-mail message.
After getting her master’s degree in business from the University of Denver, at age 33 she came back to her lifelong hobby of sewing and started her own design business, she said.
* Find your passion.
* Education is important.
* Be kind and respectful to everyone you meet, because you never know when you will run into them again.
Source: Chattanooga fashion designer TLé
TLé didn’t find her career until later in life, but according to the George Lucas Educational Foundation, in recent years, there has been debate among educators about how important it is to chose a career early.
Advocates for choosing sooner rather than later argue that teens need focus and purpose. Others said that it is unrealistic to choose so soon, and that the majority of college graduates don’t even work in the field in which they majored.
TLé said she had no idea what she wanted to be when she was in middle school. In high school she thought about being a stock broker.
“It's funny and crazy how things work out, even when you think you have your life planned out,” she said.
Susan Clark, business and computer science teacher, said she wanted her students to hear from a successful entrepreneur what it takes to create a business.
She also said it is natural for students to change their minds about career options, but she wants her students to think about what will make them happy in life.
“(I want) to let them know that they don’t just have to do the thing that makes the most money, because a lot of them — that is all they think about,” Ms. Clark said.
Chloé Coppinger, 13, said she is interested in forensic science, but at her age, it is hard to know what career to choose.
“Sometimes you will want to do a different thing every other day almost,” she said.
Hannah Courtney, 13, is interested in fashion, but she is also into other fields, she said.
“I changed what I wanted a lot, she said. “I wanted to be a model. Then I wanted to be an actress.”
Than Thomaston, 13, said he knows he isn’t interested in fashion — although he did like hearing from TLé. He is not sure what he wants to do.
Still, students said it is helpful to hear from others who have experienced the confusion that comes with choosing a career.
“It’s helpful to see what all she did and how she found out that she didn’t want to be what she tried at first,” Than said.