In July of 2010, I met Benicia High senior Ashley Houston, aspiring fashion merchandising student who had been excepted into San Francisco’s FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, She is scheduled to start this summer.

I got to know this remarkable young woman as we scouted photo shoot locations together; Ashley was our cover model for the September 2010 fashion issue. While it’s true that Ashley is personable, lovely and exudes confidence, she has something else going for her: an encompassing passion for all things fashion.

Ashley got her feet wet interning for Christina S Fashion Destination,, in her senior year at BHS. This is a remarkable young woman who says she “came out of the womb this way,” is now living in Manhattan and working as an intern for style maven Betsey Johnson. Betsey Johnson,, is a New York fashion designer with over 40 years in the business. She’s known for perfect fit, bright and colorful stores and her fun loving, over-the-top designs. She has almost 100 stores in the US and several other countries.

Even with this level of success, Johnson is hands-on, and has mentored Ashley during her internship at the flagship store in New York. Ashley reports long days and hard work (she “just works and sleeps”), but has learned a lot. One wonders if Ashley is facing similar challenges as those portrayed in the movie The Devil Wears Prada.

In what had to be a proud moment, Ashley was given the opportunity to help merchandise several Bay Area Betsey Johnson stores—including the one in Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek—this winter. That’s a pretty tall task for someone her age, but Ashley’s talent and enthusiasm make up for what she lacks in age and experience.

One can easily imagine that if Ashley can conquer New York and internationally famous fashion designers, I’m pretty sure she can conquer anything. Imagine – 18 years old and living your dream!