One day late in the term of 19F, Ronnie Ahlborn, ‘22, made a phone call that would end up changing the way that she thought not only about the world, but also her own identity. Ronnie was speaking to one of the co-founders of Bobblehaus, a gender fluid, sustainable clothing brand that is run by two young Asian-American women. As a Chinese-American, Ronnie was unsure about her own place in Asian-American culture, and with a desire to learn more about Chinese culture, she decided to spend her freshman summer in Beijing as a foreigner amongst locals.
One term later, an opportunity at a brand geared toward bridging East and West cultures presented itself to Ronnie. But the thing was, Ronnie wasn’t into fashion. She says that before the past few years she wouldn’t have called herself someone who “loved fashion.” She enjoyed finding cool things at thrift stores and wearing stuff she liked, but she was never on top of the latest trends or designers. Nevertheless, she eagerly accepted the internship at Bobblehaus thinking that she would be writing blog posts for their site. In reality, she got the crash course of a lifetime on not only the sustainable fashion industry, but what it meant to shape the future of Asian representation in fashion.
Ronnie notes that before Bobblehaus she had many reservations about the fashion industry. The fashion industry is often criticized for racist, sexist, and unsustainable practices, creating an unappealing environment for some to work in. However, seeing two 25-year-old women completely disrupt everything the industry stood for and the passion they brought to their brand changed Ronnie’s entire outlook. Suddenly, she was attending photoshoots and fashion events. She spent hours researching relevant brands and the forerunners to companies like Bobblehaus. Along the way she got to witness people who looked like her and thought like her driving innovation and change in the industry and succeeding. Ronnie truly got to see “how the real world operates while staying true to your values,” something that, to her, seemed a rare occurrence.
This winter was truly a time of growth for Ronnie not only in her identity as a Chinese-American but also as someone who loves to express herself through the clothes she wears. So what’s next for Ronnie? She isn’t entirely sure yet. After changing her major from Chinese to Studio Art this winter, she wants to explore going into a creative field, working with companies that have the values that align with her own. After her transformative experiences in the fashion industry, she’s even more motivated now than ever before to continue learning about fashion and sustainability, and to become a positive changemaker in the fashion industry.