My Fashionable Journey

A Memoir of Determination and Perserverance

Non-Fiction - Memoir
90 Pages
Reviewed on 05/02/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

My Fashionable Journey: A Memoir of Determination and Perseverance by Cheryl C.C. McKenzie chronicles the path taken by the author in the pursuit of a career in the fashion industry. McKenzie begins in the latter half of the 20th century with her having been stranded at JFK when her flight from her home in Jamaica lands with nobody to pick her up, and with no contact information to find her friends. She is taken in by a kind stranger McKenzie refers to as her guardian angel and is eventually connected with her friends. She finds work and an apartment, leaving behind the friends who had done the same to her. From here her prospects of employment begin to rise and the catalyst for formal education and a series of work in the field sets in motion her greatest desire: her own fashion studio designing couture one-of-a-kind garments.

Choosing to read a memoir written by an individual we do not know and have not heard of, even if they are respected and known in their professional industry, is uncommon. I am not familiar with the intricacies of the fashion world except as a consumer, but something about Cheryl C.C. McKenzie and the promise of inspiration in My Fashionable Journey struck a chord. I read it, and am so glad that I did. First, the throwback to New York in the late '70s and '80s is an absolute delight, particularly with McKenzie's inclusion of photographs of her designs and the people wearing them. And second, a single woman who steps off a plane from Jamaica and within a handful of years has earned her BA and made a roaring success of her life completely and entirely on her own is spectacular. And finally, pulling all of this together and putting it into the perspective of these accomplishments being achieved by a strong woman of color—well, as a parent to a young woman in a similar situation, this might just be the best memoir I could pass on to my daughter. The writing is simple, straightforward, and engaging throughout. McKenzie has a firm, clear voice that transcends the page. The photography is crisp and the overall story is inspirational, and I am so grateful to have read it.

Philip Van Heusen

Cheryl C.C. McKenzie personifies perseverance and hard work. In My Fashionable Journey: A Memoir of Determination and Perseverance, Cheryl tells her story of growing up in Jamaica, moving to New York, and her success in becoming a fashion designer. God showed Cheryl His faithfulness many times during her life. In particular, when she first arrived in America, her friends who were supposed to pick her up at the airport did not show up. Not knowing anyone else in New York, Cheryl providentially met a lovely lady - referred to as her angel - who offered to put Cheryl up for the night. It ended up being several nights. Finally, Cheryl hooked up with her friends and continued her adventures. Job hunting, working, schooling, taking a chance on setting up her own business, plus other adventures awaited Cheryl. She stuck it out and became successful. Read this intriguing story if you want to be inspired.

One must wonder why someone who grew up in idyllic Jamaica would want to move to the concrete jungle of New York. While Cheryl C.C. McKenzie could design and make dresses in her native country, New York was the place where she desired to build her fashion career. She was fascinated by tales from co-workers who were from New York. They told her about snow which did not exist in her always summer home in Kingston. Snow was not the only new thing to challenge Cheryl on her journey to a successful career. In My Fashionable Journey, we learn about her struggles and long working hours. She marries, but that does not turn out well. She becomes a single mom but continues to work from home. If Cheryl can make it through all her difficulties with the help of God, so can you. This book will inspire you, but it will also motivate you to do your best.

Joe Wisinski

My Fashionable Journey: A Memoir of Determination and Perseverance, by Cheryl C.C. McKenzie, tells the story of the author’s life. She decides to move from her native Jamaica to the United States. Once she came to New York City, she immediately ran into a problem - some friends left her stranded at the airport. Fortunately, she got help from a stranger but continued to face setbacks, both in her career and in her personal life. However, she didn’t allow anything to stop her from achieving her dream to start a fashion design company. The book includes many illustrations of some of the fashions that McKenzie has designed. Although the author says she wrote the book for young adults, she mentions that it’s suitable for anyone who’s starting a new endeavor.

I wish every young person could read this book. It’s an inspiring story of big dreams, courage, wisdom, persistence, and making mistakes and overcoming them. Cheryl C.C. McKenzie knows what she’s writing about because she’s experienced it all. I recommend My Fashionable Journey to all readers, especially young people and those who are planning a new undertaking. It would be particularly valuable for those who have doubts about their ability to succeed. The lesson that all should take away from the book is “Ms. McKenzie did it. So can I.” Furthermore, for those interested in the fashion industry, the illustrations show her talent and ability to design for any situation, whether formal or casual.