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Bearcat Creatives: Designer Veronica McNally pursues fashion entrepreneurship in between classes 

Bearcat Creatives McNally | Veronica McNally

On her 75-minute-long commute to Baruch College, biology major Veronica McNally kills time by hand-sewing a skirt for her brand When the Xu Fits. “Xu” is a pun on her middle name, Xu Mai. The 20-year-old fashion entrepreneur is determined to turn her creative visions into a reality.

The brand’s motto is “I am You, You are Me” This saying brings a sense of comfort to McNally, who believes everyone can find similarities with a stranger. To her, fashion is a form of communication that allows people to be vulnerable with themselves and others.

Inspired by the works of Vivienne Westwood, Christian Dior and Franco Moschino, McNally defines her personal style as sophisticated and timeless. She often experiments with plaid, pearl and lace materials, but also switches it up with gothic and streetwear styles. No matter the aesthetic, McNally always embellishes herself with rings, necklaces and hair clips.

“Fashion is not always a conscious choice,” McNally said. “Fashion is how you show up and how others perceive you, although that is not the main motivation behind fashion. It has also become a coping mechanism for myself.”

As a child, McNally struggled to fit in as a Chinese girl in Marine Park, Brooklyn and felt ashamed in her Catholic high school’s conformist environment. She found an escape in her creativity, which later became an entrepreneurship opportunity.

McNally started her entrepreneurship by selling slime and stickers at school and later graduated to selling clothes on the resale app Depop. She accumulated over 500 orders by the time Depop suspended her account over a transaction issue. Nonetheless, she continued selling clothing and accessories at pop-ups and thrift stores.

When McNally first started her brand, she lacked space in her cluttered bedroom, and the cost of new fabric was expensive. In addition, she was working two unfulfilling jobs while enrolled as a full-time student at Baruch.

To adapt, she took her sewing machine to school and worked in club rooms between classes. McNally found cheaper materials at Goodwill, Salvation Army and Beacon’s Closet as well as through Brooklyn-based fabric recycling nonprofit FABSCRAP.

After quitting her previous jobs, McNally began working at Pineapple New York, a vintage thrift store near campus, and is now a creative intern at The New Museum.

McNally hopes to promote sustainable practices in the fashion industry. In the fast fashion world, consumers tend to buy trendy mass-produced clothing for cheap, only to discard it when they move onto the next fad.

McNally upcycles scraps and old clothing, making use of what’s already present to transform it into a new piece. One dress she sewed was made with donated silk ties. She has also made masks, skirts and corsets with leftover materials like mesh, zippers and tablecloth.

Outside of studying biology at Baruch, McNally is contributing to the fashion scene on campus. She is the head stylist for photoshoots conducted by student-run Instagram account @CUNYOutfits and collaborated with the Women in Business club in its annual charity fashion show, Style Your Success.

McNally feels a sense of gratification with developing self-confidence and setting trends in her circle.

She recalled a time when she wore fluffy, eye-catching earmuffs, and her friends started wearing a similar style. Another time, a fashion show model felt insecure about wearing a skirt on the runway, but after encouragement from McNally, the model felt confident and more comfortable in their femininity.

Initially, McNally did not receive much support. Her parents wanted her to stick to a career in healthcare and during photoshoots, bystanders would stare and judge.

“I do not take offense,” McNally said. “I would rather be weird than boring. No one was with Van Gogh until he died.”

McNally’s friends are her biggest supporters, as they know her challenges and talent. For her, the feeling of accomplishment and self-satisfaction is the best reward of all.

McNally is currently taking a semester off to prepare When the Xu Fits for New York Fashion Week. In the future, she hopes to have her own clothing line and teach and work alongside other designers.

“You need to know why you’re creative, why you’re doing what you’re doing,” she advised.“Be confident in your own ability and be a leader for yourself before anyone else.”

McNally’s work is posted on her website and Instagram accounts @veronicaxmcnally and @whenthexufits.

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  • V

    Veronica McNallySep 11, 2023 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you❤️