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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In this edition of “Women To Watch, Trend Tracker® Tara Gilani tracked down Charlene Parsons, one of the top fashion educators in the country.
Charlene Parsons started her career—back in the day–in the Burdines fashion office. Parson’s was also a successful model. For the last 40 years, she’s been a lead educator at the International Fine Arts College, now known as Miami International University of Art & Design. Mrs. Parsons, as she’s affectionately known, is Fashion Director at Ai Miami, overseeing all fashion merchandising and fashion design programs. Many of her students have gone on to top jobs and acclaim, including Rene Ruiz, Julian Chang, Victoria Lopez Castro and Danny Santiago.
“Forty plus years here at this school plus my entrance, so to speak, in the good old days, so I’ve been probably almost 50 years in fashion,” Parsons said.
Parson’s mentoring spans two generations.
“Knowing their mothers, knowing their fathers, knowing little things that have happened to them, it’s extremely important.”
It’s not a job, Parson’s said it is her life’s blood.
“When the students are active, as they are from our school, they go to all of the major events here in Miami to work, they’re working for graduates so that’s the rewarding part,” Parsons said.
As a native Miamian, Parsons has seen it all—especially Miami’s rise to the fashion top.
“Just look around where we are today, we’re surrounded by some of the top malls in the world, not just the country.”
Fashion growth makes Parsons happy as it means good things for her students and Miami.
“Down the street, another brand new high-end luxury mall will be opening soon, the Design District, just a couple blocks away from us, Mercedes Benz Swim Week that’s moved here, I mean, this is incredible.”
Parsons lends her expertise to many boards, including Fashion Group International. Gilani is also on the board.
“Fashion Group is extremely important, worldwide. Here in South Florida because of the people in fashion group and on the board, we’re able to bring incredible speakers and open up new areas.”
Mrs. Parsons is adored by her students. And clearly, she loves them right back.
“Getting that phone call or an email saying: ‘Mrs. Parsons, I got the job.’” That’s it to me. That gives me life all over again.”
No one knows fashion better, or loves it more.
“I just love fashion. To me it’s so exciting. I still love to shop. I still love to walk through that store and to me it’s so exciting to see the brand new clothing. I must tell you: I go to New York often. I get off of that airplane and I am straight to Bergdorf Goodman with my luggage because I Iove them.”
But not as much as her most favorite thing in the world which Parsons said is, “To be with my three grandchildren.”
Parsons, from the heart, answered the Trend Tracker®’s round of questions: I am, “happy because I’m doing what I love,” I want, “to stay healthy,” I will, “make it over the next hurdle,” I won’t, “take ‘no you can’t do something’ still. I’m still as determined as I ever was,” I wish, “I had more time every day and every week,” I promise, “to look back at the happy years that I’ve had in the fashion business.”