Words: Lybn Slater, Interview: Kristom Parson.
Dedicating a lifetime to academia, with two Master’s degrees and a Ph.D., Lyn Slater has always found enjoyment in expressing herself through personal style as a creative outlet. While she was taking continuing education courses in fashion, those around her took note of her modern, original style. Upon the encouragement of fellow classmates, she took a leap into blogging, launching Accidental Icon, and never looked back.
We discovered Lyn through the digital sphere, where subcultures flourish and friendships are forged through discourse surrounding art, words, or other forms of expression. Her unmistakably authentic style offers such captivating appeal through an otherwise endless scroll of seasonal trends because it is an extension of her inner self, someone that is continually evolving. Or, as she describes in her Accidental Icon bio, “She is the woman who… Walks the fine line between rebellion and convention because she has to.” We also found ourselves drawn to reading the captions she so generously crafts, often going steps beyond to ensure her audience attaches deeper meaning to the designers’ creations she wears and supports.
Having a permanent mindset of a student certainly has its benefits and requires a healthy dose of self-confidence and determination to turn curiosities into realities. If one industry tends to perpetuate a harmfully ageist message, it is, objectively, fashion. But because of pioneers like Lyn, who boldly entered a space she, like many others, had not seen a representation of herself in before, the narrative thankfully shifted in recent years. Monumental change like this is only made possible when the utterly fearless arrive, stick around, and continue to show up – most importantly, for themselves.
What we have learned from Lyn is the potential of what comes of allowing yourself the freedom to wander off course and remain open to more challenging – and hopefully – fulfilling turns ahead. She exemplifies what it is to be mindful that what lies ahead on our path forward should eternally appear more vivid than what we leave behind.
DC: What consistently shines through your visual content and voice is an authentic, deep sincerity for what you are passionate about and true contentment with yourself. It is both inspiring and comforting; we admire you so much. Would you share the arc of your journey from early beginnings and creative interests to where you have arrived now?
LS: I have always been interested in learning new things and have always had creative pursuits alongside professional and academic ones. I have two Master’s degrees and a Ph.D. and have taken countless continuing education courses. So, the last time I was feeling I needed to learn something new I took some classes in a fashion school. While there, everyone kept telling me I had amazing style and I should start a blog. So I did and used it as a way to learn more about fashion and the fashion system. Because I was learning and having fun, I think people responded to that.
DC: Who or what in your life has impacted you most cognitively? Creatively?
LS: My grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side were both creative. She was a musician, and he was an architect. My grandmother loved fashion and was an avid reader, and instilled both in me. My mother was also very creative when it came to everyday living in ways people usually don’t notice helped me be resilient and optimistic despite adversity or struggle. My father was kind, and I try to be also.
DC: Can you think of a particular experience that significantly shaped your character?
LS: Being the oldest of 6 children and Catholic education.
DC: As a social welfare professor dealing with inclusion, diversity, human rights, social justice, fair wages, and sustainability, you entered the space of influencing with a purpose to create, as well as a means to amplify the initiatives you care about. What was the catalyst for diving into fashion from academia?
LS: I felt that fashion was a more engaging way to get people interested in the issues I cared about. Social media allows knowledge and ideas to be generated at a far greater speed and to a much larger audience than academic journals. So I found an intersection between a topic people were interested in and concerns I had been addressing for many years in different forums.
DC: What has been one of your most memorable/poignant moments in which you may have effected change through Accidental Icon since launching five years ago?
LS: I think, probably, when I hear from young people that I have made them not be afraid to get old and that I have shown a different version of what one might do in their older lives, a narrative that has badly needed to change. And also older women feeling seen because of my visibility.
DC: When you stepped into the fashion industry, did you ever feel the need to decide between placing boundaries between your personal beliefs and values and your public persona?
LS: I think I am pretty much the same person in regard to what I value and think is important in my personal and public life. I have said no to a lot of opportunities in my public life because they do not align, but it has been challenging when you need to make an income yet retain your personal values and ethics. I am lucky because the agents who represent me respect and know who I am and support all the decisions I want to make about these things.
In your free time you:
Read and daydream.
Where you find inspiration:
Everywhere but especially in ordinary everyday things.
Where you find peace:
In my home with family.