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7/7/17

Shami with Superintendent Matt WayneHAYWARD — From the time that she learned how to sew a stitch at 8 years old and made her first handbag, Shami Oshun has had a knack and vision for turning rolls of fabric into wearable and functional creations.

 

“When my mom put me in a sewing class, I just thought, ‘What am I going to do in there,’ and I was kind of confused, but as soon as I got to the fabric store, which is where the classes were, I was just kind of in awe of all the fabric and different things that you can make,” Oshun, a Hayward High School graduate, said in an interview Monday at the Hayward Unified School District office.

“I think I fell off because I’m a very active person and I’ve stuck with sports for most of my life, but I love clothes and I think I’ve secretly known that for a long time,” she said.

 

Though it has been more than two years since Oshun, now 17, stopped playing volleyball and soccer competitively to launch her eponymous clothing line, her big break came in May. She documented her hours-long effort to sew a floor-length dress the day of prom in photos and short social media posts on Twitter.

What followed was an interview the next day from BuzzFeed, an online media company, that spread across social media and thrust Oshun — and her strapless, sheer, lavender tulle dress with purple fabric roses on the bottom — into the limelight. The May 1 article that followed received over 2 million hits, and the additional traffic to Oshun’s website crashed after it received over 50,000 views.

On Instagram, the photo sharing smartphone application where she markets her self-made fashion line, Oshun now has 17,300 followers. The Twitter page, where her story began, now has 2,665 followers.

 

Oshun’s journey to viral social media popularity began the night before her April 30 senior prom at San Francisco’s City View at Metreon, when she found herself in a tight predicament: She did not have a dress to wear for the formal event.

 

“I just didn’t want to wear a normal dress,” Oshun recalled.

“I could have just probably made one of the dresses in my closet work or something, but I just really didn’t want to do that,” she said.

 

Oshun engrossed herself in creative thought, a tried-and-true process tested over her two years as a designer, before placing an old dress on her dress form and making some initial pinning changes. It was ambitious endeavor, since she had only tried to make dresses a few other times before then, Oshun said.

 

It was also a task that came with its fair share of challenges and tested her abilities as a fashion designer.

 

Work that evening came to a grinding halt after just two hours when she stepped on a large sewing needle, Oshun recalled.

“My dad had to pull it out of my foot, so after that, I just said, ‘I’m going to sleep and I’ll try again in the morning,’ ” she said.

Just hours before her prom began, Oshun ran into another snafu when her sewing machine broke.

 

“My mom ran to get it fixed, but in that time, I started hand-sewing, and that’s how I finished the dress,” Oshun said.

“But my mom was quick on her feet and ready to think of a new idea. Once it was done, I was just relieved and super happy because I had just been putting all of that time into it,” she said.

At prom, Oshun found herself dealing with an unexpected wardrobe malfunction that had a serendipitous silver lining.

“Since the flowers were so heavy, it started to weigh down the tulle, so the dress started getting longer and longer,” Oshun said.

“It wasn’t until I was stepping all over it that I realized that, so I just asked the security guard for some scissors, and my friend and I just cut the dress. It was kind of sad, but it was fun; it was like a mini outfit change,” she said.

 

After her prom night was over, BuzzFeed contacted her, leading to calls from the Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, Essence and Cosmopolitan, just to name a few.

 

“I feel like once you turn off your phone, it’s not there anymore,” Oshun said.

 

“When I looked at my phone, it was very overwhelming because I was just getting a lot of notifications on social media, so I eventually turned it off. I was excited about it, but it just didn’t feel like it was something physical that was happening in front of my face,” she said.

 

Oshun is taking a year off from school to compete in a nationwide student entrepreneurship competition in New York City, where she will present her business plan for her fashion brand. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is organizing the October competition, with a $10,000 grand prize. It offers an entrepreneurship course at Hayward High School through a partnership with Eden Area Regional Occupational Program

“I’ve really just been in the experimental phase of kind of seeing what people like and what my aesthetic is as a brand, but I want to focus on my brand for the next year and see what I can do with it,” Oshun said.

 

For now, Oshun sells her bright, hand-sewn fashion collections through Instagram, ranging in price from $30 to $250. She credits her start in fashion design to a fabric that her father brought back from a 2015 trip to Uganda.

 

“I think Shami has always been ahead of the bar, so this is nothing new,” Oshun’s father, Don Carroll, said.

 

“Even when she was little, she would always get into something and really look at it from different angles,” he said.

 

Contact Darin Moriki at 510-293-2480 or follow him at Twitter.com/darinmoriki.

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6/29/17

Shami wins NFTE Regional

An up-and-coming designer and entrepreneur is receiving national praise for her unique designs. At the age of 17, this Hayward High School graduate has just won a regional entrepreneurship challenge and is on her way to a national competition in October. What started with a love for fashion has led to the launch of her own clothing line and a possible trip to the White House.

 

Shami Oshun Carroll began sewing when she was just eight years old. Last fall, she documented the process of creating her own prom dress on social media. Her design went viral and lead to a Buzzfeed article that has received over two million hits. The extra attention subsequently crashed Carroll's website after it received over 50,000 views. Instagram recently profiled Shami in a story that received over 650,000 "likes" in less than 24 hours. 

 

At Hayward High, Carroll enrolled in a course that teaches entrepreneurship and career-ready skills. This program is available to high school students throughout the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) thanks to a partnership with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and Eden Area Regional Occupational Program (ROP). NFTE is a national organization with a strong Bay Area presence that works in low-income communities to teach students skills and behaviors needed for academic and professional success. Eden Area ROP collaborates with NFTE to offer courses in areas such as business and technology—often providing college credits for those courses. 

 

"Shami is the real deal," said Alfredo Mathew, Director of the Bay Area Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. "She's a wonderful young woman who truly represents the entrepreneur mindset and is going to be incredibly successful as she builds her business." If Carroll is successful at the next stage of the competition, she will receive $10,000 and an invitation to the White House. 

 

Two years ago, Carroll's father returned from a trip to Uganda with a stunning fabric that ignited her passion for dress design. "I can't do anything other than art," says the young dress dressmaker. "I love designing, and as long as I'm surrounded by art, I'll be happy." She is looking for a manufacturer to help her keep up with the demand for her unique creations. Carroll hopes to give back to her community by auctioning off a custom design and donating the proceeds to a local charity. 

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Dionicia Ramos Ledesma

Director of Public Information and Governmental Relations

Hayward Unified School District

24411 Amador Street, Hayward, CA

Ph: 510-784-2600   Ext.72617

dramos@husd.us

 

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