Adriana Hayes, is a remarkable woman. She is currently teaches Fashion Illustration at Mount Mary University. She is a foster parent and she fights Spina Bifida everyday. She has undergone 23 surgeries till date, she has an ileostomy bag, wears leg braces and walks around with a cane. Inspite of all of these challenges, Adriana is a ray of sunshine in any room she walks into. She has such a beautiful soul, that shines through everything!
To prove my point, let me tell you how Adriana has a direct impact on my journey. I met her in March 2017, through Shanthini, and I had just gotten accepted to showcase my collection in the Milwaukee Fashion Week 2017. In less than half hour of meeting her, she offered to help me with any sketches I might need. And in an hour she opened up her home to me and said I could come over anytime and use her serger.
At this time, the only outfits I had made were a skirt, top and jacket I used to audition for the Milwaukee Fashion Week. I had never worked with a photographer, model, or anything remotely connected to the fashion industry. So when the organizers of the MKEFW reached out for sketches of outfits for the promotional shoot, I knew this was my best chance to get my foot in the door. My sketching skills are terrible, functional but nothing remotely presentational. So I sketched an outfit and asked Adri if she would sketch it properly for me. She did, and I got into the promotional shoot. At the shoot, I met Liz Klein, a wonderful photographer who wanted to do another photoshoot with me. So I designed, printed and stitched new outfits for this photoshoot. Because I had done these two shoots, the Walk Fashion Show heard of me, and asked me to showcase my collection in their show. So I designed, printed and stitched my very first 12 look collection in a month, worked with models, did another photoshoot and did my very first fashion show. All this helped me learn and prepare myself for the Milwaukee Fashion Week, and at the end, I won a People’s Choice Award.
Now remember, I achieved all of this because of the kindess and help I received from Adriana Hayes.
I had an amazing conversation with Adri for this post. We spoke about the death of Kate Spade, and how you can feel a void in your life, when you do not have friends or a support system. Both being in the fashion industry, it is especially important to be a positive force in a lonely and shallow industry.
AMU: How did fashion and art become such huge part of your life and how did it impact you?
Adri: I have battled spina bifida all my life, and it limited my physical capabilites. Clothing became a tool to portray my body a certain way even though it was not. I had medical devices and my leg braces to be mindful of, while selecting my clothing. Bell bottoms were great to cover my leg braces, and thank goodness they came back into fashion! Art came up during my stay in the hospital when I was 9 & 10 years old. I had 4 spine surgeries during that time, and art became therapy for me to process the changes in my body.
I started sketching alot, and in college I sketched clothes for women with disabilities. Its tough to find appropriate clothing that has closures and will fall correctly with all the medical equipment. Its encouraging to see more acceptance for bodies as they come and not fit a certain stereotype.
Through the years I have gone through many physical changes and changes in clothing to realize how temporary everything is in life. This is why I teach, to tell my students that they are unique and special inspite of circumstances. That they can use fashion for a greater purpose in life. This message carries on to fostering and being a mother.
I wasn’t the greatest student in college, and I struggled with severe depression. But I had teachers who saw me beyond my grades and showed me kindess and grace. It shows that girls are much more than just the grades they reflect.
AMU: Talk to me about the women who have played an important role in your life.
Adri: I got the artistic gene from my Dad, he is an artist. My mom taught me how to be kind and connect with people. She could walk into a grocery store, doctor’s waiting room and connect with the most insignificant person there, and sincerely talk to them, pray for them and help them out. Seeing this, I learned alot.
Dr Alexis Canady is another person who had a large impact on my life. She was the 1st black female neuro surgeon and she did majority of my surgeries in Detroit. Her life journery and accomplishments for women of color are truly remarkable.
AMU: What are the thoughts that comes to your mind when you think about AMU?
Adri: I think about color, prints and culture. I am honestly blown away by your progress and your drive for success.
You can find more information about Adri’s journey with faith and Spina Bifidia on her blog https://chronichopeblog.wordpress.com/ and you can check out her fashion illustration work at http://www.madebyadri.com/