COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus ranks third in the nation behind New York and L.A. for the number of resident designers it has.

  • A CCAD student landed a spot on the runway during Fashion Week Columbus
  • She is the first student designer to have a collection hit the runway
  • Fashion Week Columbus is October 13-19

And now, one more will make their debut during Fashion Week Columbus as the first student designer to have a collection hit the runway. 

As Tracy Powell presses out the wrinkles in her free-flowing black dress, she counts down the days until Fashion Week Columbus.

Showing her collection during the finale show isn't something she thought would have happened so soon. After all she's a student at the Columbus College of Art and Design, and typically students aren't selected to show their work at such an event — but she's the first.

"I was elated,” said Powell.

It was her senior project displayed in the CCAD Fashion Show back in May, that wowed a lot of people.

After she submitted her work to get into Fashion Week Columbus, it wasn't long before she was notified that she landed a spot in the runway show.

"My whole approach to my collection was this is like an audition, so I have to make the best of this audition. What's going to make me memorable? What's going to make me stand out?" said Powell.

While one might think Powell's been doing this for a long time, she hasn't.

The 48-year-old mother and grandmother used to be a real estate agent, but found that it just wasn't fun anymore.

“God was calling me in another direction, which wasn't real estate at the time," said Powell.

So, in 2015, she went back to school and turned to fashion.

"It just got to the point where I felt like I need to be doing what I'm passionate about," Powell said.

As a kid, she would take clothes apart, tear them up, and put them back together again.

She says part of her inspiration to design came from watching tall family members struggle to find clothes that fit right. The other part came from reading comic books, observing the culture and stories she'd make up as a child while living in Turkey. Her father was in the Air Force.

She says her entertainment became her world around her, which explains her current chic circus theme. But she says when she designs, she generally likes “to come from a place inside, either from literature, you know, poetry, or nature."

Although she's been steadily working day and night on her pieces, her story caught the attention of Thomas McClure, founder and executive director of Fashion Week Columbus.

"We think about wow, this person has the passion and the drive," said McClure.

McClure hopes her story and the collection peaks the interest of others too.

"It motivates us. It inspires us. And I hope it inspires others when they see her collection on the runway," said McClure.

As, Powell puts on the finishing touches for some of her pieces, she says she hopes to end up in Hollywood one day designing costumes for movies.

Until then, she eagerly awaits the upcoming finale show for fashion week, where at least one thousand people will see her work and maybe be reminded that dreams do come true even when you start a second career.

While the Fashion Council is investing in Powell by having her collection on the runway, they also invest in other students by giving scholarships. They've given $25,000 in scholarships since 2010 and hope to do more.

Fashion Week Columbus is October 13-19.