Eastern Michigan University alumna and stylist Desyrée Nicole visited campus for a series of events as part of National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
Nicole attended EMU as a guard for the women's basketball team and majored in pre-med. During her time at Eastern, she later changed her major to fine arts with a focus on graphic design due to the difficulty of doing her pre-med lab work while on the road for the NCAA tournament.
After graduation, in 2016 she founded a luxury menswear brand named after her little brother, Todd Patrick. So far the brand has had collaborations with the Detroit Pistons, been worn by multiple celebrities like Big Sean and Kevin Hart, and Nicole has even been featured in Netflix's "Next in Fashion." Despite the success, Nicole did not originally see herself in the world of fashion.
"So I didn't know I wanted to be in fashion. I think I was curious, and when a situation presented itself where it didn't work out, I was like okay, let me build off that curiosity. Like what's the worse that can happen, I move back to Michigan?" Nicole said. "But it wasn't something that I thought was if it didn't work out, it's over."
According to the website, the brand's focus is on how the past molds the future. Nicole credits her time at EMU for helping mold her career.
"I think Eastern Michigan was such a pivotal time in my life of learning how to overcome adversity. As well as just finding out who I am as a person. So when you talk about the past molding the future and the elements in the brand, I think I take so much of what I learned and continue to develop it, not be afraid to fail. I think that's why it has mold the brand and I think me as a person," Nicole said.
Her recent spring and summer 2023 collection was dedicated to small-town kids with big dreams. She credits the inspiration from her hometown of Waterford, Mich., calling back to memories of the Rolladium, Summit Place Mall, and playing basketball with her friends.
"Don't get me wrong we wore our Pradas, our Ye's, our GIRBAUD jeans, and oversize white tees. There was definitely an identity there. But as far as someone creating it, I don't think we seen that from Michigan. Maybe that's why I feel so confident moving through the space, is because I came from where I came from. Like you all [other designers] lived in New York your whole life and we are at the same spot. Imagine if I grew up in New York and I was exposed to so much more, who knows where I would be," Nicole said.
Nicole also acknowledged that being born and raised in Michigan has helped her stay connected and focused on her goals.
"But I think being where I'm from, it kept me grounded. It kept me and my purpose. And I think I've instilled that throughout the collections and trying to just bring out those vibes, like the old school cars," Nicole said. "I think the small town big dreams is just who I really am as a person. Yeah, I might come from there, but that ain't exactly who I am or will be. I've never let my situation or where I can come from really define me. I think it just fueled the fire a little bit."
Now based in New York with her partner Gabriella Paulino, Nicole is grateful that her alma mater reached out to her to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
"It feels nostalgic, it feels weird, but it feels dope. That they [EMU] recognized, and I would say, gave me the opportunity to come back and speak because it doesn't happen often and it doesn't happen all the time. Where I would say the ideal person they want to bring in is also the person that went here and experience everything that they want these kids to know. So I'm very thankful for everybody that reached out and brought me here because I think it's dope. I wish people came back and spoke to me. I don't know if I would have showed up, but I wish that was there for options," Nicole said.
Nicole hopes that success keeps coming and that in 2024 more celebrities will take notice of Todd Patrick. On her bucket list of celebrities she hopes to wear Todd Patrick this year are Tyler the Creator, Jay-Z, Bad Bunny, and Queen Latifah.
During her visit on Wednesday she participated in a Q&A session hosted by EMU students, an alumni athlete panel, a student alumni mixer, and a Halftime Show Style Walk during the women's basketball team game against Akron. Before starting her Q&A session she encouraged EMU students to chase their dreams.
"Bet on yourself every time. You might not have people advocating for you. But if you advocate for yourself, I think people will feed off that confidence," Nicole said.