The Heart behind Hart: Profile

It was a scene straight out of The Devil Wears Prada: I was running down the streets of Mill Avenue in my non-designer wedges, talking on the phone while dodging traffic, and grasping my life in my hands. Well, not actually my life, but my reporter’s notebook. And to a journalist, that is about as sacred as life itself. I was heading to Starbucks to interview a young journalist, who also runs her own business, models in Phoenix Fashion Week, and volunteers to save dogs; all while studying for her master’s degree at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism — I was intimidated, to say the least.

I slipped into Starbucks and stole a table with a clear site to the door. I anxiously watched with disappointment each time an average person walked in. I was expecting a walking Marc Jacobs advertisement with an entourage of beauties that stood feet above my modest frame.

Photo Courtesy of Tajji Sharp

Hi I’m Lexi.

Instead, I was met with a simple: “Hi, I’m Lexi. Nice to meet you.” (So, this is the girl I was worried about?) She sat down, an enthusiastic woman with a warm smile and an undeniable air of confidence, and began her story.

Lexi isn’t afraid to tell the truth. She expresses vulnerability — which takes courage in today’s society — but she hopes that quality can have a positive impact. She begins by telling the turning points in her life that drove her to pursue fashion and journalism. “Sorry if I get emotional,” she began, “I visited the World Trade Center when I was a senior in high school and I met two people there that were so incredible to me.” The stories of forgiveness and understanding from a man and woman affected by the terrible events of 9/11, stuck with Lexi, creating a connection driving her into her career path as she listened. September 11, 2001, was a crisis for our country. There was chaos and confusion as we kept living our lives with fear. “There was so much uncertainty after that in the world…I wanted to be that voice of reason; that voice of truth, but on the other realm too, I wanted to be able to connect to people like that every single day of my life, and I have.”

“I wanted to be that voice of reason; that voice of truth”

Aside from her passion for change and natural talent for writing, fashion was always a part of Lexi’s life. “I wasn’t always, honestly, a creative person,” she said. “I knew that I loved fashion in the simplest form of the word, and I knew that I loved beautiful clothing and showy style.” But it wasn’t until 19 years old that she began seeing fashion, art and culture in everyday life. “Fashion has so many different influences and that began to influence my own life.” She began her boutique clothing line, Gypsy Love Couture, out of her bedroom as a side job and a way of giving back. The clothing line is “bathing suit aesthetic”. The style is provocative with revealing designs that cause furrowed brows in suburban mothers, but she continues to churn out new styles regardless of society’s perspective on that type of dress. “I’m still going to create and put content out there.” While her clothing line has grabbed attention, so has her modeling.

After two tried attempts as a model in Phoenix Fashion Week, Lexi walked in the show beginning her freshman year of college at Arizona State University.

The last few months of high school, her self-confidence took a hit. “I was fat shamed an incredible amount. Every part of my body got picked apart head to toe on social media where everyone could see. And that just really haunted and plagued me for a while.” But instead of letting that experience get the best of her, she rose to the top — like the Phoenix bird rising from the ashes — as a model in Phoenix Fashion Week. Freshman year of college, after two attempts to earn a spot on the catwalk, she was accepted into the emerging model program, an incubator to develop local talent. And from that grew so many positive experiences, such as becoming a role model for young girls in the valley and seeing her face on freeway billboards.

Lexi has had mothers of little girls reach out, telling her how inspirational it was seeing a model on the runway who is more than just skin and bones. “I get moms commenting ‘I’ve shown your pictures to my daughter and it makes them feel beautiful about their bodies because they realize they can be normal.’ If that’s all I get out of this — showing little girls they’re perfect the way they are, I’ll do this for one thousand years.” Little did she know, she was on the brink of what has been a shift in runway fashion: models that show athleticism and strength, instead of promoting eating disorders with stick thin women. The influence that Lexi made in her circle of life, has created a change in the bigger world of fashion, and that is something that not many 21-year-olds can say.

Spending time with dogs is one of Lexi’s favorite pastimes, and if she had a whole week to herself it would be “a week full of animals”.

Lexi has, without a doubt, impacted people emotionally and inspired many, but now she wanted to make a literal, immediate impact she could see develop in front of her own eyes, outside of fashion and people. To go above and beyond in typical Lexi fashion, she volunteers at Maricopa County Care and Control. She uses her journalism skills to feature dogs that are up for adoption. She loves dogs and that is apparent in her every day life with her volunteering and vegan lifestyle. She is committed to helping our furry friends, as well as being committed to all other aspects of her life and exceeding in all of it. Her love for others is inspiring and she goes beyond to help anyone or anything in need.

Leaving the interview I felt so inspired to do what I love every single day and not worry about the criticism or adversity, unavoidable from the “haters” . No longer will I fear my non- designer shoes aren’t good enough or that I can’t make a difference because I don’t have the resources. I do have the resources and I do slay. My outfit may not be Valentino approved, but it’s me approved — unique and confident, which are characteristics even the most famous designer can’t create. My makeup might not look like Kylie Jenner; my body not like Gigi. But thats okay. I don’t attend the London College of Fashion or have an “in” with the hot designers, but I do attend a school that will help me pursue my dream of writing and impacting others through fashion and media. I can do anything that I want to. As Lexi says, “You can do anything you want to do, if you want to.”

article for hymnmag.com

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