In the past few years, fashion bloggers have garnered a reputation for sitting front row at NYFW events and taking epic photos for social media. Along with lovable Instagram flicks and a wardrobe that seems intangible, bloggers seemingly live a fast pace glamorous lifestyle and creative Courtney Quinn, or Color Me Courtney, is leading the pack.

Known for her bouncy blonde curls and vibrant wardrobe, the self-proclaimed “color queen” is now sharing her fashion influence through a mentorship program. Launched in 2018, Color Me Mentorship was built to empower young women of color. The program exposes women to the ins and outs of fashion week.

“I was not so into fashion week for a while and was like, ‘How can I make this about more than me?'” Quinn tells ESSENCE. “Because I have this job where I talk to thousands of women online every day, but then I’m the only one who gets to experience these things.”

NYFW is responsible for launching the careers of several journalists, models and fashion designers, however, the invite-only extravaganza has a steep barrier to entry, especially for women of color.

ESSENCE chatted with Quinn about how her mentorship program is changing the face of fashion and how she plans to help the next generation of fashion influencers.

(Courtesy of Color Me Courtney)

ESSENCE: What made you want to start the Color Me Mentorship program?

Courtney Quinn: I came out here to New York City with an MBA and was hoping to work in the fashion industry. I couldn’t really get hired and eventually started my blog, took my MBA off my resume and then landed what, at the time, was my dream job making handbags at Coach. It got to a point where that no longer was my dream job and now working on my blog and inspiring [others] became my new dream. It got to the point where I was happy in what I was doing with my blog, but wanted to find a way to inspire the next generation and help them get into the industry maybe a little bit easier than I did.

Since its initial launch in 2018 how have you seen your blog grow?

When I first started in 2018, it was difficult to get brands on board. It can be sometimes difficult to secure just one invite for a fashion show, but now I was asking for me and someone without a social presence to come, and then also a videographer to document it. I faced a lot more rejections, but now because people have seen it and see the value that it brings, brands have been more willing to kind of come on board and open the doors to some of these girls.

(Courtesy of Color Me Courtney)

What fashion shows have you been able to open the doors for other women of color?

It’s different every single time. Last fashion week, we did the Christopher John Rogers show, which I think was the favorite, and probably one of the top tier designers who actually provided us access. We’ve done Alice and Olivia every year now. It just kind of depends on the girl’s style. I try to tailor it to what they like and what they’re doing.

Why is representation at NYFW so important to you?

Representation everywhere is so important because we all know that seeing ourselves in these roles provides an opportunity and insight that we never would’ve had. At NYFW, when I first came to it, I was so excited to get here and then I looked around and was like, ‘Whoa, there’s no one here that looks like me.’ I think that’s changing, but the more we can provide access to these girls, especially from a Black creative point of view, it makes everything a little bit better.

(Courtesy of Color Me Courtney)

What are the takeaways you are hoping for these bloggers to walk away with after shadowing you for the day?

I always am trying to take my influence and my community offline. And the cool thing about this is I get to actually physically do it. So in the end, the girls can be paired up with potential employers. They take away tangible connections and networking that can be applied to get them real jobs, which is really cool. A lot of them asked questions that they felt like they could never ask before. And I hope that they feel a little bit more open, excited, and inspired to take on what other challenges they have in their life or in their future careers.

Applications to the Color Me Mentorship open up this summer leading up to Fall Fashion Week. More information about the program visit Courtney’s website or social channels.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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