The influence of strong, ageless women in our lives has the power to shape us into the individuals we become. In my own life, being raised by such remarkable women has left an indelible mark on my identity and values. The vivid image of my grandmother confidently donning pumps well into her nineties and my mother adorning herself with gold and diamonds, even as she sleeps, serves as symbols of their unwavering spirit and resilience.
Growing up and witnessing their unshakable confidence, I’ve imbibed the vital lesson of embracing one’s individuality and refusing to let age define one’s capabilities. These incredible women have taught me that age is nothing more than a number; it should never constrain our aspirations or hinder our pursuit of happiness.
My grandmother’s unwavering commitment to wearing pumps, even in her advanced years, stands as a testament to her determination to remain stylish and self-assured, regardless of societal expectations. Her choice has instilled in me the unwavering belief that personal expression knows no boundaries or restrictions.
Similarly, my mother’s habit of adorning herself with gold and diamonds, even in the quiet moments of sleep, reflects her deep appreciation for beauty, luxury, and self-worth. Her actions have been a poignant reminder of the importance of valuing oneself unapologetically and indulging in life’s pleasures without guilt or hesitation.
Being raised by these ageless women has profoundly influenced my perspective on aging gracefully while maintaining a strong sense of self. Their powerful influence has empowered me to wholeheartedly embrace my own unique journey, celebrating every stage of life with unflinching confidence and grace.
Now, let’s rewind the clock to when I was just a wide-eyed 3-year-old. The delicate fragrance of Chanel No. 5 had an enchanting allure, embodying something not every lady possessed—a certain je ne sais quoi. Both my mother and my father’s mother exuded this quality effortlessly. I grew up yearning for that elusive something extra, the je ne sais quoi.
Imagine me at that tender age, balancing a book precariously atop my head, with clothespins securely fastened to the ends of my pigtails. Filled with determination, I approached my daddy and made my heartfelt plea, “Daddy, please, can I go to John Casablancas for training?” I begged, convinced it held the key to unlocking that je ne sais quoi.
However, my journey to becoming something more than I already was took an unexpected twist. Instead of my daddy, it was my Aunt Bette who stepped in, whisking me away for an interview that would set the course for my future.
During my high school years, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Wendy Ward’s Charm School. Later, I enrolled in Manikin Manor, the Fashion Institute located in Sacramento. My time at Manikin Manor would prove to be fortuitous, as it was there that I had the good fortune to connect with my first agent, Donna Johnson. Under her expert guidance and mentorship, I quickly grasped the importance of understanding “the look” and how it could shape one’s personal style.
Attending Wendy Ward’s Charm School endowed me with valuable knowledge about etiquette, poise, and self-presentation. This solid foundation laid the groundwork for my future endeavors in the fashion industry. As I continued my education at Manikin Manor, I delved deeper into the realm of fashion, honing my skills as a stylist.
With Donna Johnson as my booking agent, I gained invaluable insights into the industry and learned how to navigate the fiercely competitive landscape. Through her guidance, I developed a keen eye for trends and an understanding of what it takes to succeed as a fashion professional.
As a result of these enriching experiences, I not only became proficient in styling myself but also recognized the value of being able to offer styling services to others. This newfound skill set made me a sought-after commodity within the industry.
In summary, attending Wendy Ward’s Charm School and Manikin Manor allowed me to cultivate both personal growth and professional development in the world of fashion. These experiences shaped me into a confident stylist who understands “the look” and has become an invaluable asset within this dynamic industry.
Fast forward to the late 80s and early 90s, where I embarked on a thrilling journey as a local Sacramento actor. My versatility as a performer allowed me to tackle a myriad of roles, from captivating audiences in Dinner Theater to taking the spotlight in local car commercials. A memorable highlight during this period was gracing a Billboard, capturing the attention of passersby.
One of the unforgettable projects I had the pleasure of working on was with Jimboy’s Tacos, a beloved local favorite. Collaborating with them for a commercial allowed me to not only showcase my acting skills but also promote their delectable offerings.
Another significant milestone in my career was being selected for a Regional Lucky’s Grocery Store commercial. This opportunity not only provided exposure but also allowed me to connect with the community, appearing on television screens across the region.
Throughout this period, my presence on TV remained consistent due to my involvement in a diverse range of projects. By embracing different roles and honing my craft as an actor, I became a cherished figure in the local entertainment scene and gained recognition within the Sacramento community.
It was an exhilarating era where I thrived as an actor, embracing various opportunities and leaving an indelible mark on both small and large screens alike.
Transitioning into the corporate world, I discovered that style could be a powerful asset, setting individuals apart and opening doors to exciting opportunities. Two significant instances underscored the role of style in my career journey.
The first instance occurred when I applied for a position as an Event Coordinator at Microsoft. Throughout the interview process, I made sure to showcase not only my qualifications and experience but also my impeccable sense of style. By dressing professionally and infusing elements of creativity into my outfit choices, I succeeded in leaving a lasting impression on the hiring managers. My style became a valuable asset that communicated my attention to detail and ability to craft visually appealing events.
The second example unfolded when I secured a position at the million-dollar Chanel Cosmetic Counter situated in Orlando’s Florida Mall. In this highly competitive retail environment, it was paramount to stand out among other candidates vying for the same role. By embodying the elegance and sophistication associated with Chanel through my personal style choices, I demonstrated a profound understanding of the brand’s image and values. This strategic approach played a pivotal role in securing the job, aligning myself seamlessly with their desired aesthetic.
These experiences illuminate how style can play a pivotal role in achieving career success within the corporate world. It goes beyond mere aesthetics; style becomes an asset that conveys professionalism, meticulous attention to detail, and a profound understanding of brand image. By effectively harnessing their personal sense of style, individuals can craft memorable impressions that open doors to exciting job opportunities, whether it be at prestigious companies like Microsoft or renowned brands like Chanel.
The pursuit of beauty and the theory behind it can be a captivating journey for many individuals. However, life sometimes takes unexpected turns, leading us down paths we never anticipated. Like the story of when I embarked on the path of beauty school but eventually chose a different direction.
My journey began when I enrolled in Federico’s School of Beauty, eager to explore the theory of beauty. However, unforeseen circumstances led to my decision to leave beauty school. Despite this unexpected detour, my passion for the theory of beauty remained unwavering. I recognized that my interests extended beyond the realm of beauty and opted to pursue a degree in Theater Arts at City College instead.
This decision underscores the importance of following one’s passions and adapting to life’s twists and turns. While I may have diverged from my original path, my love for exploring aesthetics and creativity persisted through my choice to study Theater Arts.
By sharing this personal journey, we can come to appreciate that our educational journeys are not always linear. Sometimes, the most unexpected detours lead us to destinations where we can continue exploring our passions from different angles.
Style is an enduring attribute that transcends age limits, capable of leaving a profound impact. It’s something that accompanies us throughout our lives, as illustrated by my experience on the set of Midnight Caller. The Director recognized my unique style and chose to commence a scene with me as an extra, underscoring the timeless nature of personal flair.
This anecdote emphasizes that style knows no bounds in terms of age or time period. It is an expression of individuality that can journey with us throughout our lives. I assert confidently that my distinctive style from my 30s still resides within me, destined to endure indefinitely.
Moreover, I extend a warm invitation to all those who seek to embrace this same sense of style. This invitation implies that style isn’t the exclusive domain of one person; rather, it’s an open invitation for anyone desiring to explore and celebrate their unique fashion choices and expressions.
In summary, this passage highlights the timeless essence of personal style, its ability to create lasting impressions even in unexpected scenarios like being chosen as an extra in a scene, and extends a heartfelt invitation for others to join in the journey of embracing their distinctive style alongside me.
Sacrament City College
Associate Arts Degree; Theatre Arts
Manikin Manor, The Fashion Institute
Certification in Personal Image Consulting
BrandImage International Institute (BII)
Personal Styling and Image Consulting
The Style School, Anna Akbari, Ph.D