Introducing: She Got Game with Megan Wilson.
I’m not sure if I believe in fate or destiny because I’m not the kind of individual who likes to leave my life up to chance. However, I’m beginning to see the old cliche that everything happens for a reason come into play in my daily life. As I introduced myself before this year’s All-Star game and started covering shoes for CounterKicks, sports and fashion is my niche. When I was let go from my job in sports broadcasting this February, it seemed like perfect timing as it coincided with the 2011 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles. When I came back from covering the event, I realized that Canada might not be for me. For almost eight years, I’ve lived in Toronto which is Canada’s largest city and media market. It’s a wonderful city and I often think of Toronto as my first love – it’s been fun, painful, but I’ve outgrown it. There are so many more opportunities in American cities that have strong basketball, sports and design markets. To me, New York was and will always be mecca – and it’s not because of Madison Square Garden. I’ve wanted to move to New York City since I was child, but after the trip to Los Angeles, it became my mission to make my American dream come true.
I’ve always wanted to study design but never really thought I could make it work as a career. I contemplated doing my Master’s in Fashion Design overseas after getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Radio and Television from Ryerson Univeristy. But a Master’s would cost me almost $30,000 and take me away from the sports and fashion contacts I was building. It also was less hands-on and more theoretical, not what I wanted or needed in an education.
Then I found the PENSOLE Athletic Footwear Design program at Parsons The New School for Design. Last year, they had the course at Oregon University, a two-week footwear design bootcamp. At Parsons, the PENSOLE program is a four-week intensive program dedicated to every aspect of footwear design, from conceptualizing to marketing and materials. The program was founded by D’Wayne Edwards, previously the Design Director for Jordan Brand (my dream client), and stacked with guest teachers, speakers, and professionals in the footwear industry. Parsons has always been a dream school for me too, so it was the perfect opportunity. Why not just talk about shoes, when you can create them?
To get admittance to the PENSOLE program at Parsons, you have to submit a portfolio of complete sneaker illustrations in color or black and white – no computer renders. I’ve never actually sat down to design a shoe before from beginning to end. I’ve tweaked previous models in sketches and spent more time on NIKEiD than should be humanly allowed but footwear design is much more than picking and choosing materials or even shaping an inner bootie or insole. I’m not an industrial designer or drafter or even have CAD skills. I’m more tactile when it comes to my design process as I prefer to make something rather than just draw it. My mother has always joked that I should marry a cobbler so I could make my shoe dreams come true or always hoped that I would follow my love for design to a real, dream job. Learning to render and to draw a sneaker using multiple views is a whole new challenge for me. After I got over the anxiety and fear of getting rejected from the perfect program for my career aspirations, I put together about twelve drawings and eventually whittled it down to five to submit. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for my acceptance as they were letting international students know first. I was elated. I made it in. I was ready to leave.
Then came the paperwork after all those portfolio pages. As a Canadian, you don’t need a Visa to study in America, but you do need to register with US Homeland Security and go through a similar status check. It was a hectic two months – from finding the program, applying, being accepted, renting my apartment, setting up a life in New York, funding my trip and moving into my sublet. I can stay for as long as I’m studying, plus two months if I’m not working. I can qualify to work in a job or internship related to my program if Homeland Security gives me the okay. So during the program, I’ll be job hunting and dealing with, yes, more paperwork. My American friends: you have no idea how lucky you have it, enjoy and take advantage of your opportunities.
I arrived in New York City this past Wednesday and it’s been a whirlwind. As soon as I touched down, I went straight to the Empire Hotel on the Upper West Side to cover the Reebok Fall 2011 product preview. After I left, I went to find a Starbucks to post up in a corner and blog my heart out. Instead, my beloved MacBook Pro decided it just wanted to flash a white screen and not power up. Oh, goody. So in the pouring rain I ran around by myself, but not alone thanks to friends to Twitter and via text guiding me to the 24-hour Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. It’s truly heaven when you’re as reliant on technology as I am. By the grace of Steve Jobs and my Mac Genius named Patrick, he was able to determine that my hard drive was not fried (thank heavens) but it was only a cable that needed to be replaced. Instead of taking the usual five to seven days, my computer was fixed overnight – perhaps my tears helped! I finally settled into my sublet on Thursday afternoon and have been setting up my new life here in New York since.
As I sit at a bar in my new neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, typing this up and watching Inside the NBA on TNT, I feel a bit anxious about starting school again at 25-years-old. Mostly though, I feel thankful, happy and exhausted. I am so blessed to have a support system of family, friends, professional contacts, Twitter followers, and strangers who have helped me along the way. My whole life seems to have prepared me for this point, from the Starter Jackets I wore, the clothes and jewelry I made, the sports fashion blogging, the sneaker collecting, the long night and early mornings from being up all night writing. It may sound trite, but this New York experience is truly the biggest moment in my life to date. I hope you’ll enjoy sharing my journey. I’ll be doing a daily blog here on CounterKicks of my experiences in the Parsons PENSOLE program. I’ll also be sneaker creeping all over the five boroughs, sharing my purchases, outfits and my journey to becoming the best sports and style writer, blogger, and designer possible. Be sure to follow along on my Twitter feed as well: @shegotgame. Thank God I’m in the city that never sleeps because I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.