By Bianca Silva
If you ask New Jersey native and fashionista Tarah-Lynn Saint Elien her secret to success, the answer is quite simple. She credits everything to her faith in God and intends on taking that faith to empower others on taking charge of their lives with style.
In 2017, Saint-Elien landed a sweet gig as a fashion writer for Teen Vogue as she was working on masters degree from Syracuse University in journalism while managing her brand Adorned in Armor and competed in this year’s Miss Black NJ pageant where she won.
What got you into fashion and eventually covering it for high-profile publications such as Teen Vogue?
I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was a child. Like any young devotee, I would watch America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway. My parents are also very stylish so they dressed my siblings and I to the nines from out the womb! They weren’t fans of my designer dreams but they never chastised me to be a doctor or lawyer!
My fashion designer fascination died once I realized writing was my first love. The fact that I never sewn or designed anything played a factor too! It wasn’t until I got to college that it dawned on me that I could report in the realms of fashion. At first, I struggled because I knew that I wanted to be in the entertainment field, but I wondered what fulfilling work could come out of it. One semester as I studied in Washington D.C, I had a seminar at the Wall Street Journal and they quoted E! News as a platform that “always gets it right.” I landed an internship with elle.com soon after. I was like wow, if a “serious” platform like the Wall Street Journal can consider E! News as a credible source, then I could totally show people the substance in the entertainment industry, as well.
I currently do this by sharing the stories of young, powerful women who are utilizing fashion to make a difference on Teen Vogue. I want to one day do Hollywood red carpet events. I know that my mission is to use my faith and my fashion sense in order to show women what God can do in their lives.
Your brand, “Adorned in Armor,” is all about embracing faith and captivating life through style. What inspired you to come up with this?
I’m an unashamed believer in Jesus Christ and so, I’m always seeking ways to forward the Kingdom of God through my work. He inspired me one day as I listened to a sermon about putting on the armor of God to withstand the devil’s schemes. Though the sermon was talking about the spiritual sense, I also took it quite literally, too. Because of my faith in God and the way my love for fashion stems from that relationship, I am able to equip young women with the armor and the weapons to fight the battlefield of life victoriously. Through Adorned in Armor, I show them how to adorn themselves through fashion and faith.
I’ve worked with top fashion brands, done digital commercials, travelled the world and landed hosting gigs without even pitching myself — which is unheard of! It was all God. My brand has stemmed into my new venture, Dressed for Battle Podcast (available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play and more), which features the struggle stories of inspirational warrior women so we could win together.
Congratulations on winning Miss Black New Jersey! What was it like to compete in the pageant?
Thank you! I first competed in my college pageant and once I won that, I had the pageant bug. When pursuing this one, I thought, “why not?” Pageants are quite expensive and so I sought out ways to support my journey such as GoFundMe. I even thought of writing a quick ebook but I realized I had way too much to say for something I wanted to sell right away!
You mentioned in your previous response that you want to continue to shine a brighter light on Haiti. Can you elaborate on that?
I grew up not understanding why the media and even my peers in school constantly depicted Haiti as undesirable and lesser than. I believed the stories my parents told me about our beautiful island but experiencing it for myself in January gave me a newfound love for home. I was crowned around the time Trump made those degrading comments, categorizing Haiti as a “s***-hole country” and it further pushed me to showcase our rich culture and beautiful country — from my YouTube content to my writing to just being myself!
What advice do you have for those, more specifically, people of color and Haitian Americans who want to pursue a career in the media/fashion industry?
Experiment. You want to work in media or fashion? Intern. Can’t find a job? Still, intern. It’s never too early and it’s never too late to go after what you want. Be persistent in what you love to do even when you don’t see the benefits right away. And my most important advice is: you are worth so much more than you could imagine. God perfectly crafted you — from how you look to where you would come from. And when you are fully aware of why He has placed you on this earth, you will be able to easily filter out the unnecessary and pursue purpose.