shley Alexis McFarlane, up-and-coming designer and the brains behind clothing line Asikere Afana, was working in the nonprofit world of violence prevention when a friend gave her a sewing machine. She took one sewing class and within six months her creations were on the catwalk.
“I’ve done a bunch of things,” says McFarlane, who is also a published poet and had a documentary screened at Caribbean Tales International Film Festival. “But, I found fashion just fit. It was the one thing I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.”

Moving sideways into her dream career

Having stumbled upon her passion, McFarlane knew she wanted to break into the fashion industry but wasn’t sure how. With a degree in communications and a job in the not-for-profit sector, McFarlane decided to continue working full-time while undertaking George Brown College’s Essential Skills in Fashion Certificate after work and on weekends.

"If I hadn’t gone to school and learned these skills, I don’t think I would be in the fashion industry at all.”

During this hands-on program, McFarlane learned the brass tacks of designing and constructing clothing. She learned how to turn her unique vision into working illustrations, how to draft and cut patterns, and how to sew and drape fabric. Learning these practical skills allowed her to launch herself into the fashion industry. McFarlane now has her own successful clothing line, was invited to showcase at New York Fashion Week 2015, and was part of the Royal Ontario Museum exhibit Water Carry Me Go.

Continuing education is an investment

Investing time and energy in continuing education has set McFarlane on an exciting new career path which she could not have foreseen.

“If I hadn’t gone to school and learned these skills, I don’t think I would be in the fashion industry at all,” says McFarlane. “My life would have taken a completely different route.”

With hands-on skills in fashion, people not only go on to design their own clothing lines but also work at major fashion houses; in film, TV, and theatre wardrobe departments; and, in fashion buying, marketing, and journalism.