Ethnic background: African American
Hometown: Newark, NJ
Fashion inspiration: mood; Pinterest; Cosmopolitan magazine
Celebrity style crush: Beyonce + Jessica White
Weapons of choice: a good pair of shoes + fresh bold haircut
Go-to accessory: a nice watch
“I can’t go a day without my stud earrings. I absolutely need earrings in order to step outside the house…I just feel so weird with out them. I actually don’t wear hoops so studs are my immediate go to. “
“I can always count on my hats to turn heads. I live for a hat when my hair isn’t done or if I want to protect my hair from sweating out. I live for a good fedora hat or a slouchy beanie.“
She’s been slaying shoots and killing runways since the her high school days, now Ashley Everette is all grown up with a bangin’ portfolio full of professional gigs for some of the top publications in the world. Her style is fab, her walk is mean, and when you get a glimpse of her bomb-bold chameleon steez, you’ll see exactly why Ms. Sanee is a classic example of super-high, always-fly fashion killa.
Miss CM chopped it up with this fierce Newark native to get the scoop on how she broke into the fashion industry, tips and tricks on putting together a topnotch look, and Ashley’s advice on how to survive in the fashion world.
CM: So you’re a professional model. Was modeling something that you’ve always aspired to do, even as a kid?
I knew I wanted to be a model since about the age of 15. And I booked my first job by the time I was 16, behind my mothers back actually [laughs], sorry mom!
I know you were into modeling in high school [Ashley and I shared the same graduating class], but did you pursue modeling while in college?
I did modeling up until senior year of high school and I took a break to go out of state for school in Pennsylvania. When I transferred colleges and came back to New Jersey, I kind of stayed away [from modeling] just to focus on adjusting to a new school, and then I started modeling again the summer going into my fourth year of college.
So what was your major in college?
While in undergrad, I majored in Journalism and Media Studies, and had a minor in Human Resource Management. Majoring in Journalism was a strategic move for me because I know modeling doesn’t last forever. I wanted to study something where I could still be amongst the fashion industry [after my modeling career was over].
So has majoring in Journalism helped your career in fashion as of yet?
My major has definitely helped me! My last year of college, I had the opportunity to intern in the fashion closet at Seventeen magazine. While as a fashion closet intern, I was able to attend some [New York] Fashion Week shows and I was also able to work with the bookings editor on some modeling projects.
Cool. Was the internship with Seventeen how you really broke into the fashion world on a professional level?
[No] that’s not how I got started. I did that internship for school and I received credit so I had to definitely put my best foot forward there. I needed to graduate [laughs].
So what was your big break into the big leagues?
My first ever modeling job, I won a competition through Teen Vogue magazine out of like hundreds of girls. And that premiered in the September back-to-school issue, and that started the relationship I had with that publication. Throughout high school, I did other stuff for them.
Since you’ve broken into the industry, what have been some of the biggest feats that you’ve accomplished as a model thus far?
Although every photoshoot and opportunity is a contributing stepping stone in your career, I would have to say my biggest feats thus far are being apart of Lifetime’s Project Runway and being in Teen Vogue magazine.
Project Runway? But that’s for fashion designers, so how did that come about being that you’re a model?
I auditioned for it and I got picked! Like, I just attended the casting call [laughs]! I was like the third to last girl the casting directors saw. [I did it because] I got paid [laughs]! All the hours spent filming were definitely well-spent with money involved. It was a great opportunity as well. It was my first time doing television and it’s a completely different world!
What season of Project Runway were you on?
I was on season 10 of Project Runway, and I’m in about 5 episodes I believe…that was so long ago [laughs].
[Laughs] Being that you did Project Runway, do you have plans to pursue designing or any other areas of fashion?
As of right now, I have no plans to venture into other aspects of fashion. My primary focus is modeling, but maybe one day I can put my energy into something else like being an a editor of a major fashion publication. The next Anna Wintour perhaps [laughs].
You’ve accomplished some pretty major things in your modeling career already, but what would you say are your future goals as a professional runway-strutter?
My goal as a model is to be the best model that I can possibly be without compromising what I stand for. I don’t want to be just another ‘Black model.’ I want to be a brand and offer something different to the industry. I think media impacts the idea of what beauty is supposed to be on the runway and I just want to be able to bring diversity and edge. Lastly, [another one of] my goals is to have fun while doing it and enjoy the ride. I want to be able to see other parts of the world while doing what I love. I don’t think it gets much better than that.
For some people killer style is just intuitive, and I think that you definitely fall into that category. You are just naturally fierce–don’t get souped though [laughs]. How often do people stop and compliment you on the streets or when you’re out in general?
[Laughs] Why thank you! I definitely got a bit souped there, but people stop and compliment me very often when I am out based off my outfit, or they even stop me and ask if I am a model. And then you have those that just stare [laughs].
What is it about fashion that you love?
I just love the opportunity to express myself when it comes to fashion. Bringing ideas to life by putting different pieces together is what keeps me sane [laughs]. Every season the fashion game changes and that’s the beauty in it.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about working in the fashion world thus far that you could share with other young men and women looking to break into the industry?
The biggest lesson thus far is: ‘Never take “no” for an answer.’ Fashion is ever-changing, so someone will say ‘no,’ but it only takes one ‘yes’ for you to turn an opportunity into a life-changing experience. And also, just have tough skin; think criticism is given to help you, not hurt.
What pointers would you give to anyone when it comes to putting together a mean outfit?
[When] putting together a mean outfit, I would suggest finding pieces that work for your body type. Play around and integrate pieces that normally wouldn’t be worn together. And have fun at the end of the day; fashion is self-expression, so who is to say you’re not killing your outfit?
What makes you a ‘fashion killa’?
What makes me a fashion killa? Simple! I do what I want. Never play by the rules. Dare to be different as long as it works for you [laughs]. Playing it safe never turned heads.
Well, take it from a pro! Flips the tabs to get a glimpse of some of Ashley’s hottest looks.