As I have moved through my life, my dream for myself has changed and evolved. I don’t think that this is unusual, but I wanted to share my story.
As a very young child, I wanted to be a Mouseketeer. You heard me, a genuine (pronounced gen-u-wine) Mouseketeer. I was a huge fan of the Mickey Mouse Club and, in my six year old mind, I could see that I would be a perfect fit for Disney. I was lucky enough to get to go to Walt Disney World most summers with my family in my early years. The day that we would go to the park (there was only The Magic Kingdom back then), I would get up early and put my very cutest outfit on. I would fix my hair as perfectly as I could and would accessorize like a boss. I just knew that I was destined to be discovered just walking around the park. Strangely that strategy didn’t work.
Once I matured to a ripe age of 9, I wanted to be a ballerina. I loved to dance and I danced everywhere. I began taking dance lessons and I was pretty good. My OCD personality (there, I said it) was a perfect fit for choreographers because I would do exactly what the teacher said, every count, without fail. My teacher LOVED me.
I continued to dance for several years and enjoyed it, but as I got deeper into the art, I realized that I did not have the body or flexibility to go very far. Those feelings came to a head just in time for me to try out for cheerleading at the end of 7th grade. My dance days were over (in truth only suspended until I took it back up in college to combat the dreaded Freshman 15).
As I neared the end of junior high school, it started to become clear to me that I had the entrepreneurial spirit. Without really knowing it, I had begun a business decorating sneakers. I would sell them to my friends and to entire cheer squads at rival schools. I had a real interest in fashion and taught myself to sew and designed my own clothes. My grandmother taught me to knit, so I was able to make my own sweaters as well. (I also made my dad loads of sweaters. This was back in Cosby Show days where wild men’s sweaters were really popular. God bless my dad. He was such a good sport. He wore every sweater I ever made him. My #1 fan. Poor thing.)
In High School, I was offered the opportunity to go to a special seminar about being an entrepreneur. I couldn’t WAIT to go. The day was spent learning about the pros and cons of owning your own business. I was sold. None of it scared me. I still remember that day as one of the highlights of my high school experience. I even had my first clothing store idea. I would open a clothing store called Hues (my maiden name is Hughes – get it?) where all of the clothing would be displayed by color.
My plan was set. I signed up to take a fashion class my last year of High School to start preparing myself for my future as a clothing boutique owner.
This class was so exciting to me. I began to change my focus. Design. That’s what I wanted to do. Ever since I received the board game, The Wedding Game, when I was 8 years old, I was obsessed with weddings and getting married (goes hand in hand with my love for beautiful things, ‘cause weddings are loaded with pretty things!). So naturally, I was going to design wedding dresses.
My best friend and I worked at a newsstand and we would spend our downtime browsing through wedding mags and verbally redesigning every dress. Again, my plan was set. I was going to be a wedding dress designer. I graduated with honors from high school and went on to college to pursue a degree in Business. It was the responsible choice to get a business degree if I wanted to own my own business after school. I hated it. It was soooooo boring and I longed for creative opportunities.
End of my first semester of my sophomore year I changed majors to a primary focus in Clothing and Textiles. I was doing it! I was going to make my dream of being a wedding dress designer come true.
I really did love my major. I did quite well in all of my classes and graduated at the top of my field of study. I did everything that I knew to do to improve my working knowledge of fashion design. I was quite limited in job opportunities in the small college town that I lived in, but I got a job at a local fabric store to help subsidize my small sewing business and help me to get a discount on fabrics that I would purchase to make my own formal dresses for the various parties on campus. I also began working for a locally owned, high end children’s boutique, to get a feel for what it was like to run a store day after day, with duties that included dressing the store windows that were right on the main street in town. I was working it.
As graduation approached, reality began to set in. I was not going to hit the ground running as a wedding dress designer. I would need an apartment and money to pay for utilities and food. IE, I needed a job. But I was unwilling to let the dream go.
Through the help of my college professor and advisor, I reached out to a former graduate of my program, who we knew was working in “the industry”, to see if she had any contacts that I could hit up for a job interview. That led me to my first real job in my field. I ended up temporarily replacing my contact in the design and development department for a high-end running and cross training apparel company. I was to back-fill her spot while she went out on maternity leave. And so my career in apparel manufacturing was launched.
I worked in the industry for 8 years, ending up in procurement of raw materials and running production lines throughout the Caribbean Basin and The Far East. I was no closer to my dream job than I was when I started school. And real life had a chokehold on me. I had climbed as high as I could in my company and could barely afford to pay my rent and car payment.
Worst of all, I knew I could continue to seek out my dream if I relocated to New York, but I knew that lifestyle was not for me. The pace of life in NYC is too fast for my liking on a daily basis. (But gosh I love to visit. <3) As it was, I was barely able to make ends meet in the DC suburb that I lived in, how could I ever make a move to New York? I walked away from my dream forever.
Up until that point, I had prided myself on taking work that would help me get closer to my dream. For the first time, I was going to take a job for the money. Although these jobs made me more comfortable, they most certainly did not make me happy.
Years of this type of work continued until right before I had our first baby. Because our son was born with unusual health issues, I was now going to be a stay-at-home mom. Before I knew it, I had delivered our third child and had been home raising babies for 4 years.
Other than the obvious mommy duties, my purpose in life was, at best, unclear. I was able to slightly satisfy my creative side by planning the kids’ school parties and birthday parties, and decorating our home. It helped, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to make something…of myself.
One day on my way to drop my kids at preschool, I passed this tiny dilapidated barn, if you will. It was in really bad shape, but had the most beautiful stone arch just to the side and it was on the market! I fell in love. I reached back to my earlier dream of having a shop, but this time it would showcase other artists’ works. In addition, I would host art space up in the loft, so that fellow crafters and makers could have good workshop space. I could picture it. It would be lovely and filled with beauty and creativity. Unfortunately, it just didn’t make sense with our young family’s lifestyle.
But here it is, a gazillion years later, and I am finally going for my dream. ..again. It’s a hybrid of earlier dreams, but a dream that excites me. Although I cannot host my artist workshop and dreamy store in that cool barn down the street, I can host it here.
I am so happy to get the opportunity to work with local artists, crafters and makers and help promote their beautiful wares right here. As exciting products come available, I will share them here and give you the info on how to get the goods for yourself!
So stay with me folks. This dream is happening!