Youth Etiquette and Fashion Boot Camp

By Joyce Nanette Johnson, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The 2014 Youth Etiquette and Fashion Boot Camp was created when Audrey “Pat” McGhee, CEO of APM Fashions, collaborated with The Gathering of Women, Inc. to give fashion conscious youth, aged 10-18, a more realistic overview of the fashion industry.

Many young people dream of the glamour of being a high fashion model that struts down the catwalk before adoring fans as the flashing light bulbs of the paparazzi explodes prisms of light around them. However, The Youth Etiquette and Fashion Boot Camp wanted them to be aware of the business aspect of the fashion industry; what it takes to be successful, other employment opportunities that are available besides modeling and most importantly to come away with their self-esteem high.

“There is no shortage of negative role models for our girls in today’s society. Young girls imitate the actions and appearance of videos, movies and television stars,” stated Samantha Richardson, chair of the Gathering of Women. She also noted that today’s images in the media project an unrealistic and even dangerous standard of feminine beauty that has a powerful influence on the way girls and women see themselves.

McGhee’s many years in the fashion industry, both local and nationally, have garnered her rave reviews and a loyal following. “I attended the Barbizon School of Modeling,” she stated.   “There I learned the fundamentals of modeling and the lessons learned help to build my self-esteem, it taught me to be on time for appointments, importance of presentation and appearance, communication skills and to be my own motivation. These skills will take a young person far in life.”

The Youth Etiquette and Fashion Boot camp was held, from July 14-July 24 at the James Weldon Johnson Library.  There were workshops and breakout sessions in modeling, fashion, etiquette and personal hygiene. Some of the sessions were entitled “The Industry: What is it and What’s Required,” “Cultural Diversity,” “Self-Esteem: Learn to Walk with the Confidence of a Supermodel” along with interviewing and auditioning tips.

Business owners lent their areas of expertise to the event as presenters. Milton Mobley, owner of Short Cuts Barbershop, expressed to the kids that health and wellness was just as important as their education.  His associate, Jason Gaskin, informed the kids as to how lucrative the barber or hair industry can be as a career. Another presenter was Nancy Vaughn, executive producer of Tampa Bay Fashion Week.

“Pat is a respected fashion designer in the community and has participated in Tampa Bay Fashion Week for a number of years,” said Vaughn. “When I was asked to speak at her fashion boot camp, I did not hesitate because I knew it would be put together with the love and passion she has for inspiring young women.”

Some presenters included:

  • Ric Rollins (Professional Stylist)
  • Melvin Duncan (Photographer, Publisher)
  • Mayra Gomez (former HSN model, Co-founder of Christian Fashion Week)
  • Brandi Winans (Inspirational speaker)
  • Tina Levene (Author – Dept. of Juvenile Justice)
  • Angela Fletcher (Angelia Hair Safari)
  • Nancy Vaughn (Founder of Fashion Week Tampa Bay)
  • Nikki Davis (Professional Model)
  • CiCi Battle (Youth Conversation Coordinator, Dept. of Juvenile Justice)
  • Jacqueline Stoker, (Product development, ROMA)

“As a designer I wanted to equip our youth with knowledge,” McGhee stated. “Letting them know that they have resources here in the Tampa Bay area and not just to rely on reality shows, magazines and media for information and knowledge. I hope to inspire our young people to reach for the stars and to always know that quitting is not an option.”

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