Daykeyla McGee remembers how it felt to be a teenager who didn’t have the right clothes and who didn’t fit in. “I always felt like I wasn’t good enough,” she said.
So, when Ethnically Diverse Group of Employees, an employee resource group at National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation, organized a companywide dress collection and giveaway event for students who couldn’t afford a prom dress otherwise, McGee—a member of EDGE and a fashion designer—offered to design and donate a dress for one lucky girl.
As a consumer business specialist at National Fuel, McGee spends her days helping customers feel heard and solving their issues. Outside National Fuel, she’s a designer whose work has graced runways in London and New York and the pages of fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire.
“It’s something I’d been wanting to do for years,” said McGee, who graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design. She has been designing since she was 11 years old. “I wanted to give back and gift a young lady with a beautiful dress that maybe she can’t afford, or maybe she struggles with confidence and selfesteem like I did when I was younger.”
EDGE invited junior and senior students at Buffalo, New York, public and charter schools to submit a 100-word essay on why they were deserving of a custom gown.
The winning student, Ticara, from Hutchinson Central Technical High School, worked with McGee to select the general design and look of the gown, which featured beading, flowers, silks, toile, boning and more. National Fuel also arranged for local businesses to provide hair, makeup, jewelry and professional photography.
In early June, as Ticara stepped into her prom, tears flooding her eyes, it was a Cinderella moment. McGee—who was filming Ticara’s entrance—can be overheard in the video saying, “Don’t cry—oh, I’m going to cry with you, girl.”
“I [was] part of the fairy godmother team,” McGee said during an interview on Buffalo’s WGRZ.
She added, “When I see women especially suffering with their own self confidence or body images, I want to take my sewing machine and a piece of fabric like a paintbrush and a canvas and be like, ‘Come here, let me show you how beautiful you really are.’ I’m trying to teach myself that, too, with the trauma I’ve experienced in my life, that it doesn’t matter if my body is fat or skinny, it’s my body and I’ve got to learn to appreciate it and love it and adorn it.”