Torisha Doizer | Staff Writer
Kierra Leggett | Editor-in-Chief
Beginning March 2013, the designs of N.C. State student Jazsalyn, McNeil will be sold in the top 41 Belk stores and also on the department store’s website. For McNeil, a junior majoring in Fashion and Textile Management, the reality of the situation still hasn’t sunk in, “ It won’t hit me until I walk into Belk and see my name on the clothes hang tag.”
Across the nation, 170 design entrants competed in the Belk Southern Designer Showcase for the chance to have their design collections sold in Belk stores and on Belk.com. McNeil, 20, credits her “ability to use color and create fabric,” a skill she learned from the N.C. State textile department, for giving her the extra “edge” that she needed.
Persuaded to enter the competition by the adamant urging of her brand-marketing professor, McNeil entered the competition with a “can’t stop, won’t stop” mentality.
As with any major achievement, McNeil’s success in the Belk Southern Designer Showcase required a great deal of sacrifice, hard-work and commitment. While she often ate only one meal a day and stayed awake until 2a.m. on a regular basis, McNeil managed to successfully balance school, a full time 40-hour internship with Ralph Lauren in Greensboro, create six garments for the competition, and prepare for exams.
A native of Raleigh, N.C. McNeil’s designs also won first place at the 2012 N.C. State Fashion Week, an experience that she feels helped prepared her for the Southern Designer Showcase. Both Belk and Ralph Lauren were present at N.C. State’s 2012 Fashion Week, predisposing both to her designs prior to her entering the showcase. “N.C. State Fashion Week opens so many doors for students in the
program,” said McNeil.
For the competition, McNeil created her own fabrics but Belgium designer, Diane Von Furstenberg, also donated some fabrics to her.
McNeil, who walked this past spring in Charleston Fashion Week, describes herself as, “a model who creates art.” Unable to name one—modeling or design—her first love, McNeil views both as part of a collective whole. “They go hand in hand. It’s like the canvas, paint and paintbrush. It all creates a beautiful masterpiece together.”
From a young age, McNeil has always had an interest in art and fashion. While she garners much of her design inspiration from the South—she thinks southerners are “more relaxed about life,”— perhaps her biggest inspiration however, is her mother.
McNeil believes she inherited her sense of creativity from her mother. Many of her childhood memories are of her mother making wind chimes from clay, crocheting and building birdhouses. It is also to her mother that McNeil turns to when she is in need of conformation.
McNeil admits that her mother was “ a little skeptical” when she first choose Fashion and Textile Management as her major, especially with the state of the economy, but has since come to realize that McNeil, made the right decision.
McNeil’s mother grew up making her own clothes, often turning curtains into pants. While she wanted to pursue a career in fashion, due to a lack of support she instead began a career in the science field.
Along with her creativity McNeil has also inherited from her mother a sense of humility. A piece of her mother’s advice that she lives by is, “ The blessings that you are given are for you to bless someone else. Just as easily as blessings can be given to you, they can be taken away.”