Life & Style

Model profile: From campus to the catwalk

Wisconsin native turned modeling success Jaylin Carlson never expected the career she found. “It was like I was living for myself for the first time, and I quickly learned how to fly,” she says as she reflects on her journey to New York City. From the UW-Madison classroom to New York Fashion Week at the age of 20, Carlson’s life has changed forever. Now shooting for names like Nike, Pop Sugar and Seventeen Magazine, the high fashion industry has been graced with a fresh face. It wasn’t easy for Carlson to leave everything behind, but once she did, she knew there was no she could look back.

Carlson’s first magazine cover was with UW-Madison’s MODA magazine. She continued to do shoots with MODA throughout her time on campus, but never thought she would pursue modeling as a career. “I’m from Eau Claire — I lived simply. I had been told I could model throughout my life, but I never thought anything of it,” says Carlson. Everyone around her, however, knew she could make it in the big apple. Once she finally realized this once in a lifetime opportunity, her life began to change drastically — and it changed fast.

Carlson originally signed with Ignite, a modeling agency based out of Minnesota. Ignite connected Carlson with her current agency, MUSE. Making the move from the Midwest to the East Coast proved to have its challenges for Carlson. Having never been to an audition or casting, being asked to navigate the most densely populated city in the US was difficult. “I had no idea what I was doing,” she states. However, that quickly changed. When asked what her most groundbreaking experience has been thus far, Carlson’s face lit up. “New York Fashion Week,” she gushes.

Walking for designers like Cinq a Sept and Rosie Assoulin, Carlson explains the experience with one word: surreal. “You’re surrounded by hundreds of stylists, designers, even supermodels that flood the city. You’re at castings with people you only see in magazines. It was the first time I took a step back and looked how far I’d come. The city takes on an energy, you can’t explain it, you can only feel it.”

From shuffling to class on the UW campus to being flown across the country for a single day's work, it was almost impossible to keep up. “Breakfast at 5:30, gym by 6, shower and go-sees all day unless I have a shoot, then I get my schedule at 6 pm for the next day and do it all over again,” she laughs as she describes other aspects of the industry. Carlson never thought she would get this far so fast, and recognizes that it did not come easy. She left everything behind — school, family, friends — all to pursue her dream that she once thought of as out of reach.

As we begin to wrap up our conversation and Jaylin prepares for her daily journey into the streets of New York City, she leaves words of advice for everyone dreaming. “ALWAYS follow your dreams, welcome the unknown, and trust the process. You never know how much your actions are inspiring others.”

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