Sharp, fashionable and grounded describes 22 year old Cassandra Laper, a former University of Tampa student who is finding her groove in the advertising industry while harmoniously earning a degree from the preeminent Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City.
Born and raised on Long Island by her mother, Laper carries her Long Island roots with a subtle accent that “only gets horrible if I am arguing” she says, and a confident manner that suits her well. After high school Laper moved to Florida to attend UT.
Her passion is writing which seems driven by a consistent impulse to share her experiences and thoughts. A degree in English or journalism would have been a natural fit. Laper instead choose prudently to study advertising and public relations which seemed to offer more career opportunities. After two years she transferred to New York and FIT as fashion and niche opportunities beckoned. Laper is nimble in self development, focused on her future while highly adaptable. Life in, “The City” is a segment of a journey not yet mapped out.
Laper embraces her love of fashion in New York and enjoys the freedom to “be more eccentric without getting the weird looks” she would other places. Long brown hair frames her photogenic natural beauty while a nose piercing and a new shade of periwinkle blue lipstick by KA’OIR tell more about her personality. Laper prefers a “weird mix of edgy and bohemian attire” wearing tribal print pants with heeled Timberland boots and a black tee with a leather jacket.
Taking a full course load at a renowned fashion school is challenging but having access to fashion industry insiders is a powerful edge in a competitive field. With alumni like brand founder Calvin Klein; Nina García, editor-at-large for Marie Claire magazine; and Joy Herfel, president of Polo Ralph Lauren plenty of inspiring careers began there. Networking opportunities with professionals like Liz Hunter, once responsible for public relations activities supporting ABSOLUT Vodka, have provided a great starting point for a unique career.
Laper used the FIT job board to seek out employment and observes that “finding a job is just like dating” as both company and candidate make calculated moves.
An agency as unique as Laper named Our Man in Havana, after the mid century novel, called her. Self described as a “boutique shop not a department store, a bistro not a chain restaurant, an out-of-the-way cocktail bar not a trendy nightclub” they stand out, like Laper, from the typical New York stereotype. During the interview Laper kept talking and talking to keep the conversation going about her love of copywriting. They loved her and hired her. But true to her analogy she said “they waited two days before calling” with an offer.
As part of a six person team Laper is an integral player responsible for social media strategy, copywriting, and administrative duties for the full-service creative agency. Additionally Laper is gaining experience in new business development by wooing local Long Island craft beer brewer, Long Ireland. She finds the brand attractive because their high quality beers are GMO free, “as close to the ground as you can get” and believes that the two Irish founders have “a great small business with an attitude of doing good things.” Laper was introduced to the beer by her mother whose recommendations Laper often takes “as gospel” because of her pickiness. Laper’s coworkers often enjoy beer on Friday’s at the office and after joking one afternoon that they “would work for beer” if given the chance they decided Long Ireland would be a great brand to pursue as a client.
Her passion for writing and “mild obsession” with Elite Daily have created another outlet, one that could be the launch of a more independent career. The lifestyle site is pitched as the “fastest growing community of millennial voices on the web” and Laper decided she would write for them. After some digging she discovered a topic that was lacking on the site. What it was like to be raised by a young mom. Laper says “there should be more credit given to great young moms” and that “shows like ‘Teen Mom’ have given young moms a bad rap.” Her first article “Unconditional Love: 9 Things I Learned From Having A Young Mom” was published in March and received over 18 thousand shares. Laper was excited by the reception and received numerous responses to thank her for the contribution. One new young mom wrote Laper to thank her for giving her confidence that she would be able to be a great mom. Laper reflects, “you never know what your own life experience can do to help someone else.”
Between writing, work and studies Laper still finds time to enjoy the fact she is living in New York City. She lives in a small apartment in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn where she’s learned to appreciate a full size mattress. Half jokingly, she claims, “You don’t know struggle until you’ve slept on a twin size air mattress for six months.”
Her neighborhood, located near Bedford Stuyvesant where the Notorious BIG grew up, is very diverse with a large Caribbean population and influence, specifically Trinidad. Two very southern restaurants call the area home as well. One of which, named for the owner and chef Samantha, “has the best BBQ wings ever” says Laper.
Laper is enjoying the experience for what it is and excited for the opportunities she has by being there. She longs for the warmth and sun of Florida though and looks forward to graduating. She plans to relocate to Tampa or Miami depending on where opportunity leads her.