Destin resident Chassity Jackson went from the U.S. Air Force to being homeless. Instead of going down a dark path, she channeled her positivity into Battle Beauties Fashion, a brand for curvy military women.
DESTIN — Homeless veterans are Chassity Jackson’s focus because she once was one.
In November 2010, after serving in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years, the single mother didn’t have a permanent place to live with her two sons.
“As military veterans, we think, ‘We’re gonna hit the ground running as soon as we get out,’” Jackson said. “That’s not always the case.”
Jackson could have gone down a dark path, but she chose positivity, she said. The Destin resident pursued a career in fashion, launching Battle Beauties Fashion, a clothing brand for curvy military women; Wingmen Official, a menswear brand; and, recently, Emerald Coast Fashion, an organization dedicated to helping homeless veterans through fashion initiatives and volunteer work.
Battle Beauties Fashion will host Emerald Coast Fashion Fridays, fashion branding workshops for fashion enthusiasts such as photographers, models, stylists and retailers, the first Friday of every month in various locations throughout the area.
The next event is 7 p.m. Friday at Beachworx in Destin. Registration is $40, and proceeds will benefit Shelter House. Jackson will also collect new and gently used denim pants sizes 12 and larger to donate to Shelter House.
Jackson believes authentic fashion can change lives because it changed hers. In between staying with family or in hotels while living in Tampa and St. Louis, she developed an interest in styling apparel.
“I began to experiment with color in my work attire," she said. "I noticed men and women alike would notice it, like, ‘Hey, would you help me put this look together for my next meeting?’ Or they would put me in positions where I was leading meetings and I would always get compliments on my attire.”
In 2016, she transitioned from going to school for information technology to studying fashion merchandising and management online from Berkeley College. She will graduate in 2020.
Jackson launched Battle Beauties Fashion, a couture style of fashion house for curvy military women, in 2015. She wants the brand to unify and celebrate women.
“The fashion industry is not as inclusive as it should be in respect to different body types,” Jackson said. “It's almost like there are restrictions on how we’re supposed to look in uniform, and the weight standards are a bit unfair. Not everybody has the same body type. We advocate that curvy comes in all shapes and sizes. All women have curves, and we wanted to celebrate that.”
She launched Wingmen Official in September 2018 at New York Fashion Week.
“It’s more street-style attire meets luxury fashion,” Jackson said. “It’s also gender fluid, so there are women modeling the designs as well.”
The brands have an international presence and market to people outside of the military, too, Jackson said.
Jackson established Emerald Coast Fashion Fridays this year to aid homeless veterans and “get in the trenches with them,” she said. She hopes to tackle veteran homelessness locally first and then nationally.
“Emerald Coast Fashion is my baby because that’s where I get to do my volunteer work,” Jackson said. “The macro vision is to end veteran homelessness. A lot of people tell me, ‘That’s pretty noble, but it’s huge.’ I’m like, ‘Absolutely, because it is a huge problem.’”