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Friday, April 23, 2021

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Kelly Snodgrass (right) at Fashion Week San Diego 2020 (Courtesy: 656 Photography) Kelly Snodgrass (right) at Fashion Week San Diego 2020 (Courtesy: 656 Photography)
 


A Passion for Fashion

An SDSU alumna and staff member took a chance on herself and was selected to participate in Fashion Week San Diego 2020.
By Michelle Barón
 

“I have felt constantly supported at SDSU. I was able to achieve my education goals, and now I am realizing my personal goals while still getting to work as an employee.”

While juggling the rigors of earning two degrees and working full-time for San Diego State University, Kelly Snodgrass decided it was time to invest in herself and follow her passion of launching her clothing design company, Kelly Leanne Apparel Designs.

“I knew I wanted to run my own business and have been a one-woman show since launching my brand in 2017,” said Snodgrass, who earned a fashion design degree from San Diego Mesa College and a bachelor’s degree from SDSU. “I had some great teachers at Fowler College of Business who met with me after hours, gave me good advice, and who have continued supporting me even after graduating.”

As a university staff member, Snodgrass took advantage of the  benefits available to her under the California State University Employee Fee Waiver and Reduction  Program. “I don’t know if I would have been able to get my bachelor’s degree if I didn’t work for the university,” said Snodgrass, who has worked at SDSU for just over six years now. She started her career with Student Affairs and Campus Diversity and is currently executive assistant to three associate vice presidents within Business and Financial Affairs. 

Snodgrass completed her studies and graduated from SDSU in 2019. With two degrees to her name and two years after starting her fashion brand, she decided it was time to stop questioning her talent and her business and participate as a designer in Fashion Week San Diego 2020. 

“I had wanted to be a part of Fashion Week San Diego ever since I found out about it, but every year that went by, I questioned whether or not I was a big enough designer yet,” said Snodgrass. “Finally, I decided I was going to apply, and the next thing I knew, I was being interviewed, and then I was being asked to be one of their designers.”

Typically, a large group of emerging designers from around the world and San Diego are accepted to participate, but only nine designers were asked to be part of Fashion Week San Diego 2020. “It was a pretty big deal that they selected me to be one of the nine out of all the applications they received,” said Snodgrass.

Given her fondness for incorporating sustainability into designs, she created a runway collection that included garments made from a parachute, as well as recycled and donated materials. “I really like the idea of taking something that used to be something else or was going to be thrown away and giving it new life,” said Snodgrass. 

In October 2020, she watched as the looks she created walked down the runway at Fashion Week San Diego. Given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the show was broadcasted virtually for guests to enjoy. 

Snodgrass was recognized as a top designer, and proudly placed third. “The thousands of people who attended virtually were the ones that picked the top designers, which means people outside of my family and friends admired my work,” she said. 

Placing in Fashion Week San Diego validated the path Snodgrass chose for herself. While balancing getting her degrees, launching Kelly Leanne Apparel Designs, and working full-time has not always been easy, she insists she has always felt encouraged by her peers, instructors, and colleagues.  

“I have felt constantly supported at SDSU. I was able to achieve my education goals, and now I am realizing my personal goals while still getting to work as an employee.”