“Fear is a construct, and to be fearless is to pursue your life vulnerably.”
Iman Floyd-Carroll, Editor-In-Chief of Stanford’s fashion and culture publication, MINT Magazine, is a “wave creator,” a pioneer. She strives for a campus culture that is, in her words: “an inclusive space to highlight the spaces in between the perforations.” Photographer, public speaker, and chief administrator for publication affairs, Iman has the heart of a businesswoman coupled with the vision of a painter.
Iman is the epitome of a woman who wants to take on the world and make it her own in the process. Iman’s reputation precedes her. My first impressions of her were impressive and addictive. I was struck by her prominent presence and confident stature during the first MINT team meeting. In that moment, Iman presented to me, her peers, and all of the others who were watching as a young, creative, black woman with a sturdy grip on her identity, and with an even sturdier grip on her future. She is a woman of the destination, hell-bent on it and she will take no prisoners. Entering our one-on-one interview, I expected a similar ambiance, however, when we spoke, Iman revealed an intimacy and an inexhaustible commitment to her journey.
“I got into Stanford off Instagram.”
When asked about her view on “Greatness,” Iman responded with an anecdote about her path to success.
“I think we traditionally define ‘Greatness’ as being about something bigger and better, but I also think it’s also about being genuine and steadfast; it’s about sharing your vision unapologetically, authentically, raw.”
An adopted girl from the California Bay Area who moved across the country to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Iman draws on her “bi-coastal” childhood to fortify her principles. She was resourceful and saw her environment as an opportunity to grow.
This became an important aspect of her character as she began to explore her interests in college. With a mother who is an accomplished gynecologist and a grandfather who is a hobbyist photographer, medicine and art pulled Iman close and she took to them both with a passion and even added her own special twist.
“I was initially pursuing a neuroscience degree; the brain has always been, and still is, a fascination of mine. We all have this common human experience at the root, but the wisdom manifested and the ways we express it can be so radically different, much like art.”
After being waitlisted by Stanford and committing to Columbia University in New York, Iman still felt that she needed to be in California. Only six days after deciding on Columbia, Stanford called asking her for an art portfolio. “I tell the short version of the story, I got into Stanford off Instagram.” She directed Admissions to her Instagram. Her bio linked to a portfolio which held all of her work including, collections of photoshoots with friends and photo stories of her digital adolescence. This was the image narrative that got her a spot at one of the most renowned universities on the planet. “It was a super transcendent moment that it was totally by chance. Had I not had that link there, I might be in New York, MINT Magazine may have never been real to me, and we might not be talking right now.”
Speaking on MINT, Iman shared her experience coming in as a photographer after deciding pre-med wasn’t for her. Surrounded by Olympic athletes, computer wizards, and other kids who were completely amazing, Iman felt the weight of “imposter syndrome”, infamous on Stanford’s campus, the feeling that a student doesn’t belong there, that admissions made a mistake. “When in doubt, do what you love, right?”
Indeed, she was doubtful, but she pursued a position as a photographer. Iman’s friend and editor-and-chief at the time believed in her vision. With a plan for a publication upgrade, she earned the opportunity to shoot the cover of the next issue.
A stark difference from MINT’s past covers, Iman proposed an “evolution of identity that happens when the lines are drawn in the sand, changing the focus to transform [MINT] into an identity publication” using fashion and culture as a lightning rod.
“Let’s be honest, we are not in the most fashion enthusiastic environment in Palo Alto. But we have 30,000 readers because people want Stanford student’s perspective on the world on our culture and how we wear it.”
“I like to grow very much and keep my work intimate because it invites for collaboration.” Iman spoke on how proud she was to have the MINT administration be comprised with a majority of people of color (women of color to be specific). There is a comfortability along with an authentic interest when you know you are represented by the minds behind a project.
Looking forward Iman has plans to grow the magazine into an institution on campus that offers mentorship for students who are looking to embark on the creative field, or as she puts it, “a space where students can create an identity in their industry with the help of professionals and mentors.”
Iman said the scariest thing she has ever done was reinvent herself. “I’m at my early quarter-life crisis,” she says jokingly, but with all seriousness behind it. She is asking the hard questions about what her future holds and grappling with whether or not vulnerability is the way to go moving forward; if her resourceful nature is going to uphold her next ventures as it has for her previous successes.
We wrapped the interview on a high note with Iman leading us through meditation.
“A phrase that is super important to me is the Serenity Prayer, that goes, ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Never change, Iman, your future is bright.
Be sure to follow Iman Floyd-Carroll on Instagram and support MINT Magazine.
📸 Photos by Ryan Wimsatt.