Coffee CONVERSATIONS with Clarissa Monique Gastelum: CEO of New Palm and Foster Care Social Worker
Interview conducted by Iliana Felix
Photography courtesy of Clarissa Monique Gastelum
While attending Cal Poly Pomona, Clarissa worked for a foster agency and observed the hardships and rejection foster kids endured. Through the foster agency, she then learned about foster twin brothers who wanted to join the military but did not have the finances to do so. In response, Clarissa decided to create handmade blue ribbons for the twins and sold them on campus, at her mom’s work and to whoever else wanted to purchase the ribbon for a dollar. Little did she know this simple action would result in something greater and alter her life for a better purpose – but, obviously, God knew.
IF: How did you become interested in fashion, and what is it about fashion that continues to intrigue you?
CMG: For me, fashion was not an interest. It is and has always been a passion. As a child, clothes fascinated me. I was always in my mom’s closet playing dress up. To this day, I am in love with fashion, style, design, textures and colors.
IF: Did you ever consider attending an arts institute to focus on a career in fashion?
CMG: I did consider attending a fashion school after high school, but fear held me back from doing so.
IF: What made you take the risk to pursue your passion for fashion? When did you have that aha! moment that made you think, “you know what, I can do this!”?
CMG: A few years ago, I was at the lowest point of my life. I lost a part of me that I truly cared about and was scared of losing. When you lose the thing that you fear the most of losing, then the risk of losing something else isn't that terrifying...Risks no longer become a barrier. That made me realize, I can either feel sorry for myself or get up and do something.