After strutting down an aisle and pleading with a room of 200 or so to “please sit down”, former “Queer Eye For the Straight Guy” host Carson Kressley sat down in a Hollywood-style chair with four fashionably dressed women.
“Alright, it’s ‘The View,'” he said, causing the audience to burst out in laughter. “OK, who’s going to be Barbara? Just as long as nobody’s Elisabeth Hasslebeck. I hate her.”
Last week, the reality star—who was also on “Dancing With the Stars”—visited Philadelphia University to tour the campus, talk with press and, most importantly, sit down and talk to students and prospective students.
“I love working with young people because when I was figuring out what I wanted to do, there wasn’t enough people saying ‘this is what I’ve done with my life, and this is what you can learn from it,'” he said. “Wherever I go, I try to volunteer that information and maybe help steer people into a career pathway that they’re going to love.”
Unlike his audience at Phila U., Kressley didn’t major in fashion. He got a double major in business and fine art from Gettysburg College. But he did have a thing or two to teach students about opportunity.
Kressley stumbled into fashion while at the gym—he was wearing a Ralph Lauren sweater, holding a bear with a matching sweater and carrying a plaid basketball.
“This woman saw me there and said ‘who are you?'” Kressley recalled. “She said ‘you need to work for Ralph Lauren.’ And I said ‘yeah, actually, I do.'”
And just like that, Kressley started working for Ralph Lauren. But it wasn’t until a few years later when he tried out for “Queer Eye,” after being told he should by a friend.
Kressley told the students he got the opportunities purely out of openness, mixed with a dash of charisma, and he advised students to do so in the future as well.
“I’ve always loved clothes. I have so many interests though, I wanted to be an architect, I wanted to be an interior designer,” he said. “Fashion just happened to be the one that found me.”
He added: “You might meet amazing people, work for an amazing company and you’re going to take a very different path.”
Fashion student Casey Lampe, who was also one of four students that made up the question panel, said she was inspired by Kressley’s story.
“As someone who feels that opportunities are around every corner, it was extremely encouraging hearing those words from him,” she said “[What I got out of it was] just to be true to yourself and never be afraid to go after what you want to do. As a senior graduating in May, that’s something that I’ll be keeping in mind.”
Another student on the panel, Christine Michalek, also said she learned from the experience.
“I really liked that Carson was such an inspiration to never limit yourself and to try a little bit of everything, without being afraid of failure,” she said. “The experience was such an honor and it is inspiring to see someone’s hard work and persistence pay off.”
Kressley said after touring Philadelphia University’s campus, he was impressed with how many facets of fashion the students learn—public relations, marketing, sourcing, design. But he was glad he had something else to offer them.
“Especially, in my field, things don’t last forever. Sometimes you might be obsolete,” he said.
But in true Kressley fashion, he added: “That leads to this great thing called reinvention.”