Caroline Ruder found herself strolling the ever so busy Fall 2014 Bryant conference career fair. Like many of her peers, she went with the intention to network with some of the industry’s elite companies. It was there Ruder realized, she could not envision herself in the field of Marketing or any field to be exact.

“I felt ungrateful. There were so many jobs there, so many opportunities, but I just couldn’t see myself truly happy at any of them.” Ruder said.

After the sudden realization that marketing was something she could not see herself pursuing post-graduation, Ruder called her mom and asked for advice.

“If you could be doing one thing in the world, what would it be?” Her mother asked.

It took less than a second for Ruder to answer. “Fashion,” was all she said. Thus, beginning one of the longest, hardest, yet most rewarding journey of her life.

With one year to go before graduating with a Bachelor Degree in Marketing from The University of Alabama, Ruder found herself at a crossroad. Would she stick to what she had spent the last three years of her life preparing for or follow her heart and pursue a career in fashion design?

“In the back of my head, I’ve always known that I wanted to be a fashion designer.” Ruder recalled. “I used to make dresses out of Kleenexes for my barbie dolls when I was little.”

It took some time for Ruder to realize and admit to herself that fashion design was her passion in life. As someone who describes herself as a realist, it was more about giving herself permission to follow an artistic route rather than stick to the business future she had planned.

“The transition was hard, I stayed up late hours into the night almost every day teaching myself everything I know today,” she said. “I only began teaching myself how to sew about a year and half ago so I think about all the things I would be able to do if I had just started earlier.”

If given the opportunity to go back in time, Ruder states she would double major in Fashion Design and Marketing. Though, she believes everything happens for a reason, and she is extremely grateful for where her life is at this point in time.

“I’ve worked really hard for all the opportunities I’ve ever had so I feel like it’s obvious this isn’t a joke to me, that it’s something I want to do for the rest of my life, even if it is a journey I recently just begun.”

Fast forward to today, Ruder, a senior with just a short month left here at the Capstone, she looks back at all the obstacles she had to overcome to get to where she is today.

“It’s insane to think about the fact that my biggest validation thus far has been getting accepted into [Savannah College of Art and Design] and knowing that everything I did and everything I submitted, I not only learned from scratch but I was the one who taught myself how to do it all.”

Now, as she looks ahead as to what the future might hold for her, Ruder is certain of one thing — she wants her brand to mean more than just clothes.

“Clothes are so much more than putting fabric on your body. It’s about showcasing who you are, your hopes and dreams,” she said. “I really want to design with a sense or a mantra that everyone has purpose. I think clothes are definitely a way to show a person’s purpose and beauty.”


About The Author

Alejandra is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish and Creative Writing at The University of Alabama. When she is not busy writing or in class, she can be found all around Tuscaloosa, exploring with her tiny blue nose pitbull named Cooper.

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