“So, I took a big step and cut my hair really short and eventually shaved it,” Boccella says. “It was the most liberating feeling ever.”

That act was another step on a difficult journey of love and self-acceptance, Boccella says.

Now a mother of a school-age daughter, Boccella says she was concerned about her daughter, who is biracial, hearing that mommy didn’t like herself growing up. But the 7-year-old accepted her mother’s story and that was it, Boccella says.

“We’re trying to raise her to appreciate who she is as both black and white,” Boccella says, adding that she and her husband, who is white, search for diverse schools and teachers for their child.

And Boccella says she tries to remember that she’s emerged as a role model for the young men and women making their way in the fashion world.

“I have young people looking at me, inspired by the work I’m doing,” Boccella says. “I hope to inspire the younger generation.”

In the photo shoot by Richard Kelly, makeup is by Roxanne Fedrow and Photo Assistant is Catherine DelBarba