It is not always easy to leave a well-established career to follow a passion, but one KPU student did just that.
Rita Nwokolo, a student with KPU’s Wilson School of Design, left her career as a lawyer to follow her interest in fashion and technical apparel design.
Nwokolo’s interest in design started as a child where she would sketch and design her own pieces.
However, in Nigeria – her home country – a degree in fashion was not an option, which resulted in following her parents’ footsteps in the field of law with her passion in fashion designing hiding in the shadows.
It wasn’t until after her master’s degree in the U.K. that she decided to take a short fashion course.
“While I was doing (the fashion course), I saw a unique opportunity to design,” said Nwokolo, who sees fashion as a form of functionality and a means to accommodate people’s needs to “survive in the elements of life.”
“I liked the fact that you can design for solution (and) design for actual problems.”
Technical apparel design allowed her to create clothes beyond aesthetics.
Her final project design focused on the problem that women with large breasts encounter, mostly in regards to running.
Often women shy away from running because of the physical and psychological impact “breast bounce” causes.
“Most complaints are about breast bounce and that leads to breast pain or mastalgia,” explained Nwokolo, adding that her bra design helps decrease breast bounce resulting in less pain.
Although she is following her passion in design, Nwokolo struggled with challenges in her career change.
“I think the difficult part was trying to change my (…) thought process to align with the field I was going into,” said Nwokolo.
She added that it is easier for someone starting fresh in their career as opposed to switching from an established career.
There are times when it still feels “unreal” that she left a thriving career in the field of law.
“I had a good job. But the truth is, when you think about the future and how you feel if you didn’t do what you always wanted to do, I think that strengthens your resolve.
“If you are passionate about something, you will definitely find a way.”
Gaining work experience in the industry is her priority with an end goal of starting her own brand.