Senior Spotlight: Jasmine Harris, Northern High

June 5, 2024 - Jasmine Harris calls her car Goldie.

It’s a 2003 gold Honda Accord, and she drives it everywhere. To and from Northern High. To and from Weaver Academy. To and from JOANN Fabric and Crafts on West Market. And to and from almost every Goodwill store in Greensboro.

Glimpse inside Goldie, and it’s a glimpse into Jasmine’s creative life. There’s a tape measure, a seam ripper, a crochet hook, receipts from JOANN, and her Brother SE600 tucked in the back seat.

That’s her sewing machine.

Jasmine designs clothes and calls her business Uneek Designs. She creates everything from bucket hats to denim suits, flannel shirts and female tops, all from the fabric she finds at JOANN and at Goodwill.

A few weeks ago, she unveiled her talent during her first fashion show at Weaver Academy, where she takes an apparel designing course. After the show, Jasmine felt something familiar, that euphoric rush of meeting a challenge. She calls it “super cool.”

Jasmine will graduate Sunday with honors from Northern Guilford High and plans to major in psychology and minor in business administration this fall at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Her design life is far from over. She’ll continue with Uneek Designs as a side business in college. But that’s only one side of her creative life. Jasmine can write. And yes, she can play.

 

Jasmine, the Hoops Star

Jasmine began playing basketball when she was 4. But she joined her first AAU travel team, the Greensboro Lady Gaters, in second grade. And she was serious.

She’d get up a few hours before daybreak and hit the Spears YMCA or Gold’s Gym by 5 a.m. She’d go there with her dad, and he’d help her work on her conditioning, strength, shooting, and agility.

But those weren’t the only places where she pushed herself before sunrise. She turned her driveway or basketball courts at a school nearby into her own personal workout room during the pandemic.

Just like she did for her workouts at the Spears Y and Gold’s Gym, she’d get up early. Her dad would turn on the car’s headlights, and Jasmine would practice free throws, 3s and mid-range jumpers and dribble between chairs, cones, just anything to improve her ball-handling skills.

During the early-morning workouts with her dad, she tapped into her creativity by perfecting different moves on offense and using the ball as an extension of herself.

Jasmine played for two traveling teams, Carolina Flames and the Greensboro Lady Gaters, and she excelled at Northern Guilford as a 5-foot-8 point guard and shooting guard.

Her talent on the court helped her gain a starting spot all four years at Northern. This year, she averaged nearly 16 points a game. She also broke Northern’s record for steals – 334 – and was named the Metro 4A Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

She earned All-State honors this season. Jasmine is Second Team All-State. She was the only female basketball player for any area high school selected to play in the Carolinas Classic All-Star Game in Wilmington, and in July, she is expected to play in the East-West All-Star Classic at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Jasmine also ran track at Northern her sophomore year and relied on the same discipline she used for basketball. She ran the 100-yard dash and the relays, 4x100 and 4x200, and she also participated in the long jump.

For years, basketball was the only way Jasmine felt she could express herself. All through elementary school, she tried to draw. Yet, she couldn’t draw the way she wanted to, and by the time she reached fifth grade, she ended up telling herself, “I’m not creative.”

As she got older, though, she realized her fifth-grade self was way wrong. She discovered ways to be creative far beyond a basketball court.

She first began with words. A needle and thread weren’t far behind.

 

Jasmine, the Poet

Around the time she began playing competitive basketball, Jasmine discovered her love for poetry. In Brooks Global Studies Elementary, she liked writing five lines full of words that rhyme. It was just fun.

By the time she got to Northern Middle, Jasmine began reading poets like Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou and started experimenting with writing poems that were more like word pictures that expressed how she felt and what she believed.

By high school, she began shaping poems by the way she arranged the words on the page, and like with basketball, she’d write and discover what she first found as a point guard with a ball in her hands. She’d be in the zone, that flow state, and the words would come.

Her English teacher at Northern, Alicia Mooney-Flynt, noticed Jasmine’s talent, and told her about a countywide poetry contest that would select poet laureates from each school. She encouraged Jasmine to apply.

Jasmine sent in three of her poems, and from her selections, she was named Poet Laureate of Northern High for 2022-2023.

“It helps me make sense of things,” Jasmine says of poetry. “It’s like a puzzle. By the time you put in the last piece, you see it and realize it reflects exactly how you’re feeling.”

But it wasn’t just writing that jazzed her. It was also clothes.

At Northern, Jasmine found herself being more observant about what her friends wore. When she became more aware, she’d see flaws in their clothes and point out something nearly invisible to them, like the two crooked stitches on a shoulder seam.

“Only you could see that, Jasmine,” her friend would say.

“Yeah,” Jasmine would respond. “But they could fix that.”

Jasmine had always wanted to. She had been interested in learning how to sew ever since elementary school, and she always enjoyed putting outfits together.

But now she had an idea of how to put that joy into action. Buy a sewing machine and see what she could do.

 

Jasmine, the Entrepreneur, the Fashion Designer

First, to find a sewing machine.

For two weeks straight last March, Jasmine began reading blogposts about sewing machines and watching sewing machine reviews on YouTube. She’d write out a list of pros and cons for each model she reviewed, and she found she got so immersed in her research that she’d look up hours later and see it was past midnight.

After two weeks of research, she chose the Brother SE600, a sewing and embroidery machine. The Brother SE600 had touch screen display, 80 built-in designs, 103 built-in sewing stitches and six embroidery fonts. Jasmine found one for $400.

Jasmine had $200 from her savings. But she needed some financial help. So, she approached her longtime basketball trainer, the attorney, and the owner of a photography business.

Her dad, Jarvis.

Jasmine showed her dad her research, and like any attorney, he asked questions. Jasmine gave answers. Her dad found that his youngest daughter was far from impulsive.

“I don’t want this solely on you,” he told her. “I’ll chip in for sure. I trust you. I’m here to support you.”

Jasmine started with bucket hats. She sold 17 last summer. She then started branching out and making sweatshirts, pants, vests, and shorts. Along the way, she learned the nuances of running a business.

Ask Jasmine about those lessons and she can rattle off a long list: how to talk to customers, how to edit videos and build a website, how often to post, and how important it is to follow through and market what you make.

“My friend says, ‘it’s like flying a plane,” Jasmine says of creating a business. “It’s a lot to get it off the ground, but once it’s in the air, it’s fairly smooth from there. That just made a lot of sense.”

 

‘I’m More Than Just An Athlete’

On the last Monday in April, Jasmine was nervous backstage at Weaver’s Theater.

With the assistance of her teacher, Rosalyn Womack, a local fashion designer, Jasmine had worked for weeks on her outfits for Weaver’s fashion show, “Dancing Through The Decades.”

Jasmine was assigned the ‘70s decade, and she transformed a huge piece of blue denim she found at Goodwill into bell bottoms and sewed a red tie-up top for her female model. For her male model, she created a denim suit and found a white shirt and made a wide 1970s collar and sewed it onto the shirt.

Like what she discovered playing basketball and writing poetry, Jasmine could feel that flow state, that zone, when she designed what she first saw in her mind. Time just flew by as she hovered over her Brother SE600.

The fashion show started, and Jasmine’s nerves vanished. She remained backstage with her models, making sure everything was just so. And once again, Jasmine felt the whoosh of time, and she got lost in the moment. Then, the fashion show ended.

Jasmine walked down the runway with her models beside her, and she saw her parents in the back of the theater. Her dad was taking pictures, and her mom, Stephanie, the principal at General Greene Elementary, was videoing the whole thing.

Jasmine voice catches when she talks about that moment today.

“It’s just that they have supported me so much through basketball and seeing them excited about my work and seeing the pride on their faces in a different area and having everything come together at the end,” she says, “it was a surreal moment really.”

The star basketball player. The award-winning poet. The entrepreneurial fashion designer.

Jasmine has learned much.

“This all has revealed different aspects of who I am,” she says. “I might have known this and not paid attention to it when I was younger, but I’ve met amazing people –– friends, teachers, and mentors –– who have allowed me to see myself through a different lens.

“And what I’ve discovered is that I’m more than just an athlete and more than just a student, a 17-year-old floating through the world. I have talents and creative ability that can take me to a lot of places.”