The bright lights and big runways of New York City fashion week have just come to a close, but just a few hours upstate, things for these industry professionals are just heating up. At a showcase in Latham, stylist Darell Michael preps hair, designer Va’Ceia Payne makes last minute adjustments to her garments and models Mell T. Meus and Nykesa Hilts work the fashion runway.
It’s all thanks to a local program called Mission Accomplished Transition Services. Carmen Duncan, also know as “Coach Carmen,” founded the program in 2012 to provided a platform for industry professionals to strengthen and hone their skills.
“It really allows for the creation of communities that focus on collaboration over competition,” said Duncan.
The fashion edition part of the program connects established entrepreneurs to mentors and work opportunities that takes their career to the next level.
Darrell Michael is the owner and stylist at, Lounge De Beauti Salon in Schenectady. “Through the program I was able to obtain my first salon,” said Michael.
“It gives us work so we don’t have to travel and can do jobs right here in the Capital Region,” said model Mell T. Meus.
“Now I’m way busier than I ever been and it’s really the confidence that it’s added,” said designer Va’Ceia Payne.
“I’ve done a couple of photo shoots for a few magazines,” added model Nykesa Hilts.
Carmen says connecting BIPOC students to boutiques like Bella V in Latham is her way of shaking up the industry.
“It’s about people seeing who we are, the creations we design and what our ancestors bring in to us in todays world, “ said Carmen.
You can check out open enrollment dates on the program’s website.