Junior Carly Holtzinger has used her designs and affinity for fashion to help the homeless in Seattle and Yakima, Washington. View the photos full screen or see the Flickr set to get a closer look at Carly Holtzinger. Photos by Nick Onken
Fashion for a Difference

I first struggled with the idea of majoring in apparel design, thinking the fashion industry was a shallow and unfulfilling focus of time. But with a persistent passion for design, I’ve found that a new perspective has emerged.


As a senior in high school, I chose to direct my energy toward a self-coordinated project called “Beautify.” Its aim was to bring light and beauty to the homeless, through the redecoration of Yakima Valley’s Union Gospel Mission. In order to fund my design plans, I coordinated a fashion show titled “Runway of Light.” God revealed his powerful presence that evening through his provision, timing, and grace. The show attracted more than 250 people and raised more than $6,000! This sparked the interest that I’ve continued to pursue at Seattle Pacific University.


During my sophomore year at Seattle Pacific, I launched another project in my hometown of Yakima, Washington, called “Shine.”


This was a spa/makeover day for four residents of the YWCA’s women’s shelter. “Shine” gave these women a day of pampering and encouragement that included a facial, massage, and haircut/color from an elite group of personal-care professionals. The women were given new outfits and a gourmet candlelit dinner, complete with a trail of rose petals and live piano music. At the day’s conclusion, many tears were shed through new feelings of value and self-respect. One woman commented that she could now look at herself in the mirror — an act she had avoided since a brutal beating left her nose severely scarred. Another woman found that she now had the confidence to apply for a job and find her own housing. I felt honored to be a part of such a transformation!


Last summer, I was moved once again to hold a fashion show fundraiser. This event combined the goals of bringing a community together while raising money for the homeless youth of both Seattle and Yakima. “Season to Change” raised more than $6,500 for New Horizons Ministries of Seattle and For a Better Tomorrow of Yakima and attracted more than 200 people to the streets of downtown Yakima.


As I continue to grow as a person and fashion designer, through struggles and through victories, I am amazed at God’s unveiling plans for my life.


Though fashion design may seem like a secular activity — a realm in which shallow ideals are created — I have found that God is present in fashion, and I have seen the brilliant impact it can have in this world. With this in mind, I encourage myself and others to be our own people in Christ, so that we find the freedom to boldly bring forth our passion to excite and inspire!

By Allie Fraley ’08, Photos By Nick Onken
To read more Big Ideas, check our archives for more about academics.