This interview is a part of our Live Your Dreams Stars series where we feature awesome young women who are changing the world one amazing dream at a time.
From making her first dress at 9 years old to getting kicked out of a strict Amish community and paving her way in the fashion industry, 'Breaking Amish' and 'Return to Amish' reality star Kate Stoltz has proven that she has a strong will to succeed. Without having ever seen a magazine growing up, Kate has landed herself on the glossy pages of many magazines across national newsstands. But, it wasn't easy for her.
Raised in a religious sect in Pennsylvania that shuns the modern world, Kate grew up on a small farm that didn't have televisions, microwaves or computers. With no access or information of outside cultures, she left everything she knew to follow her dreams and break free from her traditional lifestyle. Starring in a hit TLC reality show about escaping her past life and starting fresh in New York City has opened up a whole new world for Kate that she could have never imagined.
Now a full-time college student, model and emerging fashion designer, Kate has a lot on her plate. Not to mention all the philanthropic work she does for Developing Faces, a charity focused on providing surgical care for children with facial abnormalities in developing countries. It's fair to say that this humble Amish girl turned reality TV star has an amazing story to tell.
In this interview, Kate shares the details of what it took for her to leave her family, her traditions and everything that she knew in order to pursue her dream of becoming both a model and a role model. She shares the struggles of her busy life and what it's like to constantly be in the limelight as well as AWESOME advice for girls who are in college and trying to juggle the challenges of being a student, having a career and maintaining a social life. Kate's story will inspire you to dream big and never give up despite your social or economical upbringing.
What was the most difficult thing about your transition out of the Amish community?
The cultural differences that I've experienced along the way. There are so many little things that I'm not used to. Whether it's the way people communicate, the way that relationships work, or the expectations people have about each other. They are so different in so many ways. I've experienced so many cultural differences, especially in the relationships that I've made. Everything that I was used to is considered not that normal.
What is the most important lesson or skill that you learned from growing up in an Amish community?
One important thing is to work hard and to take responsibility for yourself. My parents were always good at budgeting so it helps me now as I have to pay for my rent and college tuition. From them, I've learned to work hard and continue to do what I'm planning to do.
What is the hardest thing about being in front of cameras all the time for 'Return to Amish'?
One of the hardest things about being in front of the cameras is that I never know how things are going to be edited. It definitely keeps me on my toes. I never know if my joke will be cut off in the middle of a sentence. Every single word that I say is recorded and on film and it can always be used out of context.
What has moving to New York taught you about making your own future?
Moving to New York City has taught me that everyone is in charge of their own destiny. There is a diverse culture of people from all over the world who are all working towards their dreams. It's not about where they started but where they are now. It makes me believe that everyone can get to where they want to go and it's really inspiring.
Was it always your dream to be a fashion designer?
I always knew that I wanted to be a model but I never knew how excited and interested I was in design until I moved to NYC. Getting the opportunity to work with reputable designers in Manhattan and working with all the amazing prints and fabrics is so inspiring. The designers have opened me up to a whole new world and everything they do is honestly a piece of art. It's working with such great people that has made me decide to design for the rest of my career.
How do you keep yourself motivated towards chasing your dreams?
I keep myself motivated by making commitments that force me to keep going towards my goal. I like to plan a year in advance, take classes I'm excited about and make promises to people that I don't want to let down. I make commitments like this to keep me on track and then I find the time and figure out how I'm going to do it. I talk to my friends a lot and they always have my best interest in mind. They help keep me on track by being excited for the things I'm involved in. That helps a lot.
As a model, do you have any tips or tricks to make you feel more confident before your shoots?
Singing helps relax the nerves even if you're not a good singer. Singing a song that makes you feel happy clears your head and helps put me in a good mood to go into the shoot.
What advice do you have for girls wanting to pursue their dreams?
Give it everything you have. If you give it everything you have then you're less likely to give up when you're halfway there. The bigger the goal, the more effort you'll have to put into it but the bigger the benefits are. Put all your time and effort into it and don't be afraid to invest in your future.
And don't sell out. Whether it's your friends, your time, your body, your money or your family. Those are all very valuable things that are yours and aren't worth giving up for anything. If you can protect those valuable assets and go after your dreams, then get started! I'm a college student and I know how hard it is to keep your commitments and do the right thing but it will be worth it in the end.
As a college student and celebrity, how did you build such a strong support system?
You can't build a support system in a very short period of time. It takes a long time to build a community of friends and people that you trust. Those relationships are built over years. I'm still building my support system and trying to build a community of people. I've learned to not take everything at face value and be a little guarded around people but still expect the best from them.
If you're going to college, you have an opportunity that not everyone has. I'm going back to college after my parents took me out of school when I was 15. I just got admitted into college this past year. It's such a big opportunity and people don't realize how important this it can be. You're already making steps towards your goal.
What is the most challenging part about being a full-time student, model and emerging designer?
The most challenging part is trying to juggle my schedule and making time for the people that I care about. Sometimes it's difficult to make time for any social life whatsoever. I am always preparing, running to a shoot or working.
As a spokesperson for Developing Faces, a mission focused on providing high quality surgical care to babies and children with facial abnormalities in developing countries around the world, my duties are to manage, organize events and do all of the small details for the charity.
So if I'm not doing something for school, I'm doing something for the charity. It's a never-ending cycle.
Kate Stoltz was interviewed by Jordan Strohl, Managing Editor of the 1,000 Dreams Fund.
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