Robin Harris, a North Lawndale native and former fashion model, stands stately and statuesque at 6’1″ tall. Her good looks and long, lithe frame landed her a contract with Ford Models, the internationally known modeling agency. Her height, however, also presented some challenges.
“Back then, when I was a model, the clothes were great,” she told a Fox 32 news anchor last year. “But as soon as I stepped off the runway, I couldn’t find that same style or fit for me.”
Harris, who has an MBA in international business, took matters into her own hands and created Model Atelier — a “luxury womenswear brand that designs exclusively for tall, strong, and confident women,” according to the company’s website.
The Proviso East graduate’s company is now the “premier fashion partner” with the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, which means that Harris dresses WNBA players for a variety of red carpet appearances — from the ESPY Awards to the NBA Awards.
On March 16, Confidence Apparel — Model Atelier’s apparel brand — teamed up with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and Arbonne, the beauty products company, to host a Teen Confidence Chat in Chicago for roughly four dozen young women from Chicago’s suburb.
The girls got makeup tutorials and a master class in self-confidence during the two-hour session — thanks, in part, to Rajeska Jackson, a Confidence brand ambassador.
“I’ve been knowing Robin since she was in grade school,” Jackson said, adding that Harris was influential in helping Jackson’s daughters launch their modelling careers.
Elicia Moseby, who lives in suburban Maywood, said that the session “was very inspiring and will help a lot of people with their inner beauty.”
Cheyenne Parker, a Chicago Sky power forward, explained for the girls through video feed the importance of inner and outer beauty.
“Inner beauty is expressing the importance of how we treat others and the decisions we decide to make,” Parker said. “We exercise inner beauty by our actions. Inner beauty helps our outer beauty come forth.”
During an interview on March 16, Harris said that the Saturday session was about “empowering girls and talking about real life issues” like self-esteem and wellness — issues she’s confront during her path from childhood to womanhood.
The youngest of six children, Harris grew up in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. Harris said that she’s the first entrepreneur in her family, so she understands what it feels like to aspire to be something that you can’t see.
“I got a lot of inspiration from TV,” she said. “I saw really beautiful women doing amazing things and one day I was like, I want to be that. I also read a lot about the things I had a passion for.”
Her advice to the young women who looked to her on Saturday for inspiration?
“Know that everything you’re going through is propelling and preparing you to become the real you — a girl who is beautiful on the inside and out, who is accepted in her community and who is smart,” she said. “Don’t let the negativity around you impact who you’ll become.”