If you were going to compare one of the designers participating in the CCAD Fashion Show to the “feel good movie of the year,” it would undoubtedly be Julie Ward. And as much as Ward’s story will warm your heart, it’s the ardor with which she tells it that really hits hardest.
Before enrolling at CCAD, Ward had a knack for all trades. She was a ballroom dance instructor, a Crew cheerleader, worked various serving jobs and was a model (for Highball Halloween). There was nothing she couldn’t do; she just hadn’t found what she really wanted to do.
A drawing class pushed Ward’s creative side to the forefront, and CCAD became the clear path. Then during a moment of trepidation, life decided to throw Ward a curveball. (A curveball she knocked out of the park.)
“I’d been struggling with finding my identity as a designer over the past couple years, which I feel is pretty common. In the process of that I found out I was pregnant. I was really nervous I wouldn’t be able to finish school … but I really wanted to [for my daughter]. I wanted to be able to tell her [that] when life gets hard she can push through anything,” Ward said as tears formed in the corners of her eyes.
With a fresh focus — and mountains more responsibility — Ward found inspiration in the little girl who would transform her life.
“A big motivation for me was to just focus on her for my collection,” Ward said of her three-piece children’s collection, named Flora after her daughter, which she will continue to expand with hopes to open an online or brick-and-mortar store.
The collection was created with purely Flora in mind. It’s personified by floral designs and prints, and designed to have a mix-and-match factor where any piece can be arranged with any other — think playing dress-up with your everyday clothes.
Ward selected precise flowers, digitally manipulated them into ornate, playful arrangements and finalized everything with other prints that paired well (to accomplish the mix-and-match).
“I just wanted florals in my collection because it’s happy, beautiful and cheery, and I knew I wouldn’t get sick of something that’s happy,” Ward said.
While there are a million stories about a child changing someone’s life, Ward’s feel genuinely warm — she teared up again during our short interview when mentioning her partner Curtis Cole, and all he’s done for her and their daughter. But Ward only sheds tears of joy, and even has a sense of humor about motherhood.
“Honestly my sleep schedule hasn’t changed much because CCAD is so grueling. It kind of prepared me for motherhood,” Ward said.