Rosemary Card never attended fashion design school, but during a two-year stint as a New York model, Card worked with well-known designers, including Jill Stuart, as they tailored their apparel. She watched and listened and noticed what made clothing fit. She also walked catwalks throughout the world, modeling the latest in high fashion. But Card is now devoting her time to a different kind of fashion: a line of LDS temple dresses.
There may be those who consider Card unprepared or unqualified for such an endeavor, but Card, a 26-year-old living in Salt Lake City, confidently responds to that concern just as she responds to every other question.
“I’m probably not 100 percent qualified, but in this life, if we wait to be 100 percent qualified for anything, we’re never going to do it,” Card said. “I’ve tried really hard to raise my hand for opportunities. Am I qualified? No, but I know how to ask questions, and I know how to find mentors, and I know how to figure it out along the way.”
The fourth of five daughters born to Mike and Liesa Card, Rosemary Card grew up in Utah. When she was 8 years old, her family moved to New York City, where her mom pursued a degree in interior design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. While the adjustment from a home in Sandy to a crowded apartment shared with her aunt’s family was difficult, Card said she and her sisters became independent as a result.
Card’s mother graduated with an associate degree, and Card’s family returned to Utah after living in New York for four years. Card became an extra in Disney’s “High School Musical,” and while she participated in filming at East High School in Salt Lake City, someone approached her and encouraged that she pursue modeling. Card explored the option. Local agencies told her she didn’t have “the right look” for Utah but could be successful in New York.
Card said modeling was “literally the last thing on the planet” her parents wanted her to do, but Card’s mother took her on a business trip to New York over Thanksgiving. While her mom was in meetings, Card attended open calls at modeling agencies. Card’s mother was hoping to show Card that modeling wasn’t a viable option, but Card walked away with a three-year modeling contract from Elite Model Management. Less than two months later, the 16-year-old moved to New York by herself.
Card’s parents initially had concerns about sending their daughter to New York to work in the fashion industry, but they began to feel it was an experience Card was meant to have.
“They prayed about it and fasted about it, and they really felt like it was part of God’s plan for me,” Card said. “So even though it wasn’t part of their plan, they didn’t feel like they could say to Heavenly Father, ‘Oh, it’s not in our plan. We’re not going to do it.’ But they felt like I was supposed to do it, and I think that gave them a lot of peace.”
Just before she left for New York, Card had a visitor. Leanne Freedman, wife of DownEast Outfitters co-founder Jonathan Freedman, who had been a model herself, gave Card an important piece of advice.
“She talked to me about ‘one picture,’” Card remembers. “You just take one inappropriate picture, and you will never get it back. … I knew that I didn’t want to one day be in a Young Women presidency and have a Beehive stumble across an inappropriate picture of me on the Internet. And I knew that I could go to a lot of parties and be totally fine, but I also knew that I could go to one party and wind up in a really dangerous situation, and the cost-gain just didn’t weigh out in my mind. It seemed too risky for me.”
Although the modeling agency respected her values, Card, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, found herself in a world where models had opportunities to party with celebrities and unlimited access to alcohol and drugs. She watched as the other girls her age struggled to make adult decisions at such a young age, but she stuck to her standards.
She negotiated with her agency to ensure she had Sundays off to attend church, and she studied her scriptures daily.
Card attributes this strength of character to her mom, who gave her a new set of scriptures before she moved to New York.
After two years of modeling and just after turning 18, Card traveled to Japan. While there, she realized her standards had not been communicated properly, and she decided she was done modeling. Although she was able to stick to her standards on the trip, it served as a reminder that she had reached an age at which agencies would expect her to do things that did not align with her personal standards of modesty.
“When people say, ‘Why did you stop modeling?’ I always say, “Long story short is I feel like I’m able to offer more to this world,” Card said.
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