FEATURE: Sara Rogers

If you know Minnesota fashion, you know Sara Rogers. If you don’t know her by name, chances are you’ve seen her face years ago in Ribnick commercials, in a Dayton’s ad, or more recently on local television discussing the latest trends as the Mall of America’s Trend Specialist. I know Sara a bit more intimately as she is my mother-in-law.  Soon after I met her, she was going to a Vikings football game wearing an all cream outfit. She was stunning and I wanted what she was wearing!  Not long after, Sara bought me the same outfit: every piece right down to the socks.  I have never forgotten her advice to me about the importance of how clothes fit my body, from where the jacket or shirt meets my wrist to where the pant legs hit my ankle.

Recently I sat down with Sara for The Volk interview. Although I have known her for 30 years, I found some new and interesting things about her and her life. In particular I noticed a theme to her life: some may call it fate, others grace. People show up in Sara’s life at the right time. They see her for who she is and for what she has to offer, and from there opportunities abound.

Sara’s history in the fashion industry…..

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It all began in Sara’s high school yearbook where it stated her desire to be a model.  Sara admitted she didn’t know how to do it, and this is where fate and Sara’s perseverance and persistence stepped in. Her hair-stylist at the time told her about a photographer, Don Getsug, who she pursued for months to have him photograph her. That photo shoot finally happened and, according to Sara, this is where her career really started. Photographer Robert “Bobby” Whitman saw the photos taken by Don and asked who she was and was determined to use her.

Sara appeared in a 1970’s fall fashion spread in the Star Tribune wearing a beautiful paisley dress and a blue suede beret tilted to one side, with her piercing, yet innocent eyes, and puckered, deep red lips. The Eleanor Moore Agency, now known as Moore Creative, saw this image and got hold of Sara. “Eleanor believed in me and started getting me bookings,” said Sara, “and that really started my modeling career.”

However, Sara didn’t stop at modeling (which included runway, mannequin, and print modeling). She began mentoring and teaching models personal development, etiquette, and modeling skills like runway and moving in front of the camera. As a mentor she said, “If I identified a weakness, I would definitely pull out strength as well.” She also began choreographing and commentating for fashion shows, along with facilitating wardrobe and trend seminars. These opportunities all originated from Dayton’s.  Sara stated, “Dayton’s put me on the map. They saw something in me I never saw in myself.”

 At this point I was curious.  Were all of these opportunities already happening at Dayton’s or were they created just for Sara? “All my positions have been created,” said Sara. This also rang true for her current position as the Trend Specialist for the Mall of America. While serving as a commentator at Dayton’s fashion show, Sara was spotted by Maureen Cahill from Mall of America’s public relations department.  She was asked to do a segment for the Mall of America on Kare 11. From that segment came two opportunities: more work with the Mall of America and being a host on the shopping network (at the time, Value Vision).

 During this time, Sara lost her sister Karon. She realized that life is short and wanted to do more of what she loved. Sara stayed with the Mall of America while expanding her wardrobe business. 

 Sara’s wardrobe business began while helping a few runway models with their style.  They then referred family and friends to her. She realized that through all of the avenues the fashion world had taken her, along with being in the right place at the right time, she had become a sponge.  Sara had not only learned about the industry, but also how to dress individual body-types, which is a true passion for her. She said that she sees herself as a student and wants to empower others with the knowledge she has gained in the “art and science of dressing well.”

 Sara calls the opportunities in her career blessings from God because she didn’t see them coming or know where her next steps would lead. This brings me to what I see as Sara’s grace and rock star work ethic. Sara said, “I’m about working.” Even as a model while raising sons on her own, she sold insurance, real estate, or anything that offered some flexibility so she could continue her passion.  Sara’s grace has been a like a magnet that attracts a lot of good people into her life: people who have shared their knowledge and support to help lift her up.

 

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On her favorite topics: fashion & wardrobe….

 Of course Sara follows the trends, but more importantly her mottos are, “the fit makes the fashion” and “it’s not just about what you’re wearing, but how you’re wearing it.”  As a style expert and Wardrobe Consultant, she advises her clients to look for items that celebrate themselves. For instance, she tells the on-the-go mom, “Find colors that naturally illuminate your complexion. That way you don’t have to take too much time on make-up.” She also recommends shopping our own closets. Sara loves to play in her closet switching up how she wears outfits and taking inventory to, for instance, make sure “that shoe is earning its keep.” By shopping our own closets, we can do the same. And make sure, Sara recommends, to have a few go-to outfits, especially for those times when you are in a hurry and don’t know what to wear. Another tip for the quandary of what to wear is to take a photo of the clothes you style so you don’t forget.

 On current trends, Sara loves animal prints and the flared-leg, high-waisted pant. Her personal style is “classic with a twist” because she says that 70-80% of our wardrobe should consist of the classics. Also, fashion should be fun, so why not add a twist with the latest trends? Her style icon is Coco Chanel. She loves menswear for women and Chanel does it best. And, on local stores and brands, because as we know how much The Volk loves to celebrate and support them, Sara likes Mona Williams (located in the Mall of America). Mona Willliams sells vintage and new, and the owner, Patric Richardson, is a wealth of fashion wisdom.

 

On aging, self-care & mental health….

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 Much like Sara’s practical fashion tips, she is also practical about self-care. Recognizing that beauty also comes from the inside out, she tries to eat healthy, preferring food that comes from the ground and is not processed. On mental health, Sara believes in talking to someone when stressed or going through something traumatic, and not to be ashamed of it.  When her sister died, Sara worked with a therapist to process her grief, which helped her cope with such an unexpected loss. On the subject of aging, Sara is feeling good about her age because she feels good due to her self -care routines of eating well and exercising. But let’s be real here: Sara’s beauty and style are ageless.

 

On family & what might surprise people…..

 If you follow Sara on social media you’ll see her living it up at parties and fashion shows, but truly Sara is a homebody. She cooks dinner five nights a week and loves being at home with family. Sara is a wife, a mother to three sons, and a grandmother to five girls.

 

Finally, what Sara knows for sure & her next steps…..

 Sara said, “I always tell aspiring models: be nice.” She knows people in the industry have been shunned, but this was not her experience. She has always felt there is enough room for everybody.   She said, “You’re going to get what you’re supposed to get.” Further, she said, “I see the beauty in everyone.” These philosophies, in an industry that is often competitive and full of rejection, are truly Sara’s grace. This grace has helped to create a long-lasting and expansive career. Even more important is the beauty of her kindness and generosity.

 Her next steps include more teaching and sharing her journey and lessons.  She might even, for fun, learn how to sew. For Sara, being able to do her own alterations would be fantastic, and it would prove the sewing teacher in middle school who told her she would never be good at sewing wrong!

 Sara, we see and celebrate your beauty, both inside and out.

** To reach out to Sara or hire her to shop your closet go to: sararogers.com **


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Nikki DiVirgilio is a recent graduate from graduate school majoring in Social Work.  She writes about self-care and personal discovery on her blog:  https://thesoulreporter.wordpress.com. She can be contacted through her blog at: https://thesoulreporter.wordpress.com/contact/