Best of the Bronx: Milnalis Diese
A budding designer from the Bronx is pushing to pursue her passion despite battling a rare disease.
At 22, Milnalis Diese is seeing as clear as ever when it comes to her future in designing.
“I decided not to live on the what if and just do it, pursue it,” says Diese.
At 16, she found out she has Keratoconis, a rare disease that causes blurred vision and vision loss.
“I ended up going to college despite what the doctors told me, and it was tough. I sat in the front, I couldn't see the board,” says Diese.
She ended up graduating first in her class at Herkimer College upstate, and she was the first in her family to go to college.
She then continued to get her bachelor’s degree at LIM for fashion merchandising.
Despite her academic success, doctors told her surgery for keratoconis was necessary to stop the progression.
“They told me in August if I didn't get it I’d be blind by 26,” says Diese.
Being a designer, she says that just wasn't an option. Diese opened up about the condition and the surgery on social media, starting a GoFundMe. She ended up raising about $5,000 mostly from strangers.
“Just getting that sense of community out of something so negative was so rewarding,” says Diese. “I never wanted to share that story.”
Since the surgery her career has taken off. She's designed MaxMara stores across the country, worked with Nike and ran social media for a custom fabric flower company whose work has ended up on Beyoncé, Rihanna and fashion designer runways.
She recently started her own networking company to bring together creatives and professionals from all industries to connect and help each other.