Many people can only dream of doing what they love for a living. For TFS alumna Cara Cheung, however, that dream is an everyday reality, and a very exciting reality at that, as she is one of Canada's rising young fashion designers.
"I always knew I loved fashion, but being a designer seemed more like an unrealistic dream job than a real plan," Cara explains. She knew virtually nothing about the industry itself. Cara's creative side was irrepressible, however, and she found her IB Art Show experience especially satisfying. "I think that's what really affirmed my love for fashion, because it gave me the opportunity to explore something I had always been interested in, through a structured environment, and with an end goal in mind that allowed others to connect with my work."
When the time came to choose a university, Cara applied mainly to business schools. She knew, though, that Ryerson had an excellent fashion program. "Why not just apply and see what happens?" she asked herself. That willingness to keep an open mind says a lot about Cara's creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Once accepted, she faced a "now or never" moment; she decided to take the risk, and that leap of faith in herself and her abilities, changed the course of her life.
Cara went on to earn a Bachelor of Design at Ryerson University and then interned with the prestigious Maison Chanel, before establishing her eponymous clothing line. By March 2012, she had made her World MasterCard Fashion Week debut. Cara has since dressed numerous television hosts and celebrities, and has been featured on Breakfast Television and ET Canada. Partnering with her brother Daryl, another TFS graduate, Cara sought to expand her business. In the summer of 2014, Cara and Daryl launched their first pop-up shop in Yorkville.
Cara credits her TFS education for her focus and drive. "The habits you develop early on have a huge impact on your successes, and TFS was such a rigourous and disciplined school. I feel that work ethic put us ahead. TFS truly gave us the tools to get to where we want to be in life, whether we were aware of that at the time or not." She is immensely proud of her Young Alumni Award. "To be honoured for working hard at something I love means so much to me, especially coming from such a respected establishment as TFS."
What's next for the dynamic designer? Cara is gearing up for the fall launch of her label's online store. And for TFS students and new grads, Cara offers some astute advice: "Learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, and do as much research as you can on potential jobs in your field of interest before choosing your program," she says, adding, "the sooner you can identify your long-term goals, the more applicable your learning experiences will be. Most of all, don't be afraid to question the norm and take risks."
Cara's success story perfectly illustrates the wisdom of her advice, and happy indeed is the person who is able to fashion his or her own unique career path.