By Frances Johnston
Catwalk Cartel, formerly known as Lady Blossoms, is the official modeling organization here on
KU’s campus. Originally created in 2011, it was remotely known. In spring 2016, with the influence of new and improved management and fresh recruits, they were able to revamp the old and tired structure and transform it into an organization dedicated to elevating self-confidence, encouraging acceptance and celebrating diversity.
As a former member of the renowned modeling team, Role Models, current President Laquay Hague initially joined the group in 2016 as a simple hobby, but due to her prior history in modeling and performing, she was given the title as the official model coordinator.
However, Hagues’ devotion to the group and her influence didn’t go unnoticed. After former President Sharday Pather graduated in 2017, Hague was instantly appointed as the organization’s new president.
Under her influence, not only was Hague able to create a name for Catwalk Cartel beyond the borders of KU’s campus, but she also made it a safe place for people to express themselves creatively and showcase their beauty.
“One of the goals behind our organization is to create an environment that we thought everyone would be comfortable in. Catwalk Cartel is like a family. We recruit and accept anybody without judgment. We are all included in everything so our members see Catwalk Cartel as a safe space. We work and improve together as a whole at our practices and with our academics,” said model and Vice President Thalita Soto.
“The mission of our group is to educate individuals on how to gain self-confidence and give themselves self-love, to give people a safe place where they feel included,” Soto stated.
They’ve also applied this way of thinking towards academics. Students aren’t denied acceptance into the organization by GPA. Everyone is welcome.
To further expand their hand in diversity, Catwalk Cartel has also teamed up with multiple cultural-based KU organizations, such as FMLA, ACE, BSU, the NAACP and SALSA.
In preparation for their eighth annual fashion show in April, Catwalk Cartel hosts weekly practices every Tuesday and Thursday in Old Main 25 at 7 p.m. as well as Sunday practices at 3 p.m. in the north studio of the Rec Center. They also have a mandatory month-long “model boot camp.”
“I want people to look at us and think of real models,” says Hague. “We don’t work hard, practice or kill our feet in those six-inch heels for nothing. We mean business and that’s what we want people to see.”
To promote their organization, Catwalk Cartel has hosted a substantial number of on- and off-campus events. They were responsible for hosting the 2017 Fright Night Homecoming, Halloween trap and paint, spa night, pajama party, annual cookout and more. They’ve also performed snippets of their show during the 2017 Maroon Madness basketball game and the local talent show.
Catwalk Cartel is a non-profit organization, so in order to receive funding for their shows, designers and performers, they rely on profits made from bake sales and local fundraising, as well as funding through a sponsorship with ACE.
Catwalk Cartel has had a number of fashion designers and performers at their event, including Sharday Pather’s Black Excellence clothing line, Philadelphia’s Own, Milano, Baltiere and many other well-known and respected local designers. They have also had featured performances by Role Models, Instagram sensation and poet Maui, as well as many other local and school recognized performers.
They’re actively looking for new models, designers and performers so if you’re interested in showcasing your inner model, talent and creativity, or if you would like to learn more information on Catwalk Cartel, contact President Laquay Hague (firstname.lastname@example.org), vice president Thalita Soto ( email@example.com) or Zardinae Vincent (firstname.lastname@example.org ).