‘Clothes’ to God, success
By Frenche Brewer, email@example.com, 803-777-3691
Paul Williams has two callings in life. His first calling came in the form of a religious experience to preach the gospel. And the second calling was for Williams to design and produce a line of clothing to market to believers.
The former was not a path Williams actively sought out, but it is one that now the Air Force veteran says he realizes is his life’s purpose.
“The reason I’m here at USC is to open a believer’s exchange store called a three-in-one store--- selling clothing, music and books, separately, but all in one location,” Williams says.
Williams says he saw a need for the business after visiting other stores with limited selections, which he felt needed to be offered in a business for God’s followers.
He prayed for inspiration, and the store concept is what led him to the university’s Hospitality, Retail and Tourism Management program.
In April, Williams, a junior, found out what it means to be obedient to his faith when he was named the winner of the Student 2013 Designer Showcase during Fashion Week sponsored by the Fashion Board at USC.
Inspired by the looks between the 18th and 19th centuries, Williams says that men of that period dressed more fashionably than the women did. His winning redesigns of ascots, ties and vests “seamed” to be the “it” factor the judges were looking for in this year’s contest -- a contest Williams only entered at the urging of retail instructors, Karen Edwards and Sallie Boggs.
“It was no surprise to me that Paul won the recent design competition, as his talent is obvious and his work ethic is outstanding. He knows how to multi-task – designing and showing his own line, working with a local retailer, volunteering on campus and in the community and maintaining a full course load – all while raising his lovely young family,” Edwards says. “Simply put, Paul is a joy to know and makes all of us in the Department of Retailing and the College of HRSM, very proud.”
Williams credits his fashion sense to being raised with three sisters, and the oldest sister who made sure he never left home without being properly outfitted, even in a home without much money to spend on clothes. He says he knew that he had a talent for design while stationed in Korea and started getting requests from fellow airmen for his designs.
“When you put on my clothes, you should feel a certain way,” he says. “When a man puts on a suit, he shouldn’t feel the way he does in jeans. He dresses himself a certain way, he walks a certain way, and so even with the vests — the way you walk says something about you.”
At 29, Williams is not the typical college student. Married, and the father of a young son, Williams says it’s very important to him to be a role model to his son.
He says USC is figuring prominently in the plan he has for achieving his dream.
“USC has definitely opened my eyes to the world of fashion and how necessary it is to give life to your imaginations and dreams,” he says. “I know who I am and what I'm called to do, and because I know my purpose, I must fulfill it. Being a student at USC is significant and essential towards the fulfillment of my destiny.”