I was born on the tail end of the boomer generation. I lived in a historic farmhouse, built at the turn of the 20th century, on the skirts of a small town with 8 sisters and brothers. We shared one bathroom and most of us slept on the second floor in two bedrooms. The only heat was two small registers cut into the floor that allowed warmth from the living room below to seep upwards. Then, Wisconsin still had snowy, subzero temperature winters. It was cold and we were poor. We made do with preserved vegetables grown in our garden, meat from my grandmother’s farm, fresh milk from a neighbor, and survivor benefits from the government. Hand-me-downs and clothes made by my mother were all I knew until I turned 15, got my first job, and had money to buy clothing at a store.
There were few places to buy clothes, styles were ghoulish from a teenagers perspective and I battled with my mother over the few things I did buy. I clearly remember her saying, “you’re not leaving the house with that on,” or “you look like a tramp” because I wanted to wear frayed bell bottom pants that dragged on the ground. My experience during my young adult years set up the stage for a lifelong struggle with my wardrobe. I rarely felt comfortable in the clothing I purchased and even more seldom felt that my clothing reflected my personal style.
While cleaning out files a few days ago I ran across a college research paper, titled “Colour My World,” that I wrote in 1997 on teen fashion magazines for which I won a prestigious award.The long and short of it is that editors and advertisers spew out massive amounts of material aimed at convincing teenagers that the only way to fit in, find the right guy or to be beautiful is to buy products and services that ultimately change teen girls relationships in a mostly negative way with themselves and their bodies. And buy they do. Girls spend billions of dollars each year on everything from clothes to tech in order to fit unrealistic images and lifestyles touted in the articles.
When I began designing and creating jewelry and scarves I finally began to realize how amazing it was to wear something that felt good on my body and that reflected who I am. I even am visualizing a time in the future in which I design and make my clothes and that feels good on so many levels. It has helped negate decades old programming about fashion and beauty and I feel more comfortable being in my body wearing things that are “me.”
I had never written a mission statement for my business but I now know that it has everything to do with helping girls and women find the confidence to discover their style and the freedom to express it.