Sometimes things are just meant to be, the planets align and you don’t have to force it, it just … is. When Arts District Merchants Association (ADMA) member, Sandra Fowler, owner of Super Citizen, approached Goodwill Industries of Hawaii (GIH) in May to be the beneficiary of their Downtown Fashion Wine Walk on Aug. 19, the connection was clear.
GIH’s mission is helping people with employment barriers become self-sufficient. ADMA’s members are dedicated to the responsible development and improvement of The Arts District in downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown for the benefit of its members and the community. Both organizations empower people to live their dreams and reach their full potential.
But something was still missing — someone to represent the heart of Chinatown, someone who pushes past barriers and lives his art.
His name is Andy South.
Despite Andy’s grueling schedule he graciously accepted the role of Special Guest at the Downtown Fashion Wine Walk. He inspired so many as a Project Runway Season 8 favorite and finalist. This Waianae High School and Honolulu Community College graduate lived the dream of every up-and-coming fashion designer, showing his collection at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.
He launches his Andy South collection at Neiman Marcus this September. Did you know that he’s isn’t even 25 years old? He’s certainly at the start of an exciting career and he’s already giving back. As an HCC graduate, he’s come full-circle and taught a Fashion Production class there this past year, what an amazing opportunity for those students.
I met Andy before Project Runway Season 8 aired and one thing stood out to me back then, he really cares about people. Despite all of the fame and attention, Andy is still Andy. Actually, he’s seems more centered and even more grateful than ever. Here’s our recent interview:
The Goodwill Hunter (TGH):
Aloha Andy. Goodwill has programs in Hawaii that support a wide variety of people with employment barriers . Did the extent of these programs come as a surprise to you?
I did know about half of the programs. I didn’t know they assisted youth at risk. SUPER cool!
Of those programs, which do you, or could you, feel a connection to?
I connect most with the immigrants. (Editor’s note: Although he was born in Hawaii, his Laotian parents fled persecution.)
And strangely, people coming out of prison. I think it is possible for ANYONE to turn around and make a better life for themselves and society.
What advice do you have for the youth who want to pursue their passion in the fashion industry who come from a disadvantaged background?
NEVER let where you come from dictate where you will go, but let it strengthen you.
You are a very humble talented person. How do you remain centered?
Faith. My walk with God; I speak with Him every morning and night. Sometimes all day when it’s tough. I find that my relationship with Him helps me through tough times and keeps me grounded when I am floating on clouds that are too high to see my own feet. :)
TGH: Thank you Andy!
The Downtown Fashion Wine Walk is part of the Pauahi Street Festival (near Merchant Street). The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19. Although the event is free and open to the public, in order to partake of the wine-tasting, beauty treatments, prize drawings and much more, you’ll need to purchase a ticket for $25. A portion of the proceeds benefits Goodwill Industries of Hawaii. To learn more about Goodwill in Hawaii and to purchase your tickets visit www.higoodwill.org.
Goodwill Industries of Hawaii’s programs like Imi Loa, a job training program for recent immigrants, help people with employment barriers to reach their full potential and become self-sufficient. Read about a recent example in this month’s Honolulu magazine: http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/August-2011/Micronesian-in-Hawaii/.