It's not just those in the worlds of comedy, tv and movies that have found an inspiration in Academy Award-winning actress/comedian Monique. She has also encouraged an up-and-coming designer in Jackson, MS.
Wife, mother, grandmother, visual artist are just a few of the other hats that fashion designer Gail Rayford-Ambeau wears. In spite of the day to day challenges everyone faces, she has shown no signs of backing down or giving up. Instead she has joined aothers who are taking the bull by its horns and moving forward to their destiny. Just like one of her biggest sources of inspiration: Monique.
"When I look at what Monique has gone through and what she has achieved in spite of challenges," says Gail, "I can't help but think that if she could do it, then so can I."
Gail has been involved in art and fashion ever since she was five- years- old. As an eight-year-old student at Hawkins Elementary School in Toledo, Ohio a young Gail Rayford made her first complete outfit for her class show and tell. Dressed in a pair of purple pants made of that 1970’s 100 percent polyester, a matching denim vest and a hat that mixed both of the fabrics, Gail excitingly awaited her turn to show what she had crafted.
Almost 40 years later, that excitement contins. Today Gail is a fashion designer, stylist, radio show host, seamstress, visual artist and founder of Ambeau’s Art and Fashion. When many are saying that "Thin is in", like Monique, Gail is hoping to show that true beauty begins on the inside and can be visible in what one does---instead of what you look like on the outside.
In 2008 she hosted a fashion show in Jackson, MS with national recording artist and author Jacki-O as the special guest. In 2009 one of her garments was the key piece for national Gospel recording artist and Gospel Music Channel’s 2008 Gospel Dreams winner Melinda Watts debut video--- So Good. She also participated in the Florida Designers’ Expo which lead to styling model Tiffany Richardson from America’s Next Top Model (cycle 4) for a photo shoot with celebrity photographer Derek Blanks.
Her newest endeavors include motivational speaking and co-executive producer and host of Fashion Forward with Gail Ambeau on Conversations LIVE! Radio. She discusses fashion tips, trends to look out for and interviews celebrity guests. So far she has talked with actor and recording artist Tray Chaney (HBO's The Wire), singing sensations Willie Taylor (Day 26), Bertell and Abraham McDonald along with fashion designers Rami Kashou, Chris March and Laura Bennett from Project Runway fame.
At 45 years young, Gail may be a latecomer to the fashion industry, but she definitely believes that all things happen in God’s timing. “I can honestly say that it has not been easy but I have no regrets about the decisions that have been made thus far”. Her advice to those who aspire to follow their dream is to “first obey the voice of God, be willing to stick with it through the hard times to make it to the other side and be willing to give up some things.”
When she talks about who she would like in one of her designs, Monique's name always comes up. "I would love to show my appreciation for what she stands for to me," says Gail. "Monique represents for the everyday woman, especially the big girls like myself." For now she will continue to take each day as it comes, confident that dreams come true for those who believe.
Cyrus Webb is the Editor-In-Chief of Conversations Magazine and freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.cyruswebb.com. Additional information about Gail can be found at www.gailrayfordambeau.com or at email@example.com.