This is the story about how I found out that there is life without a husband and how I turned adversity into a thriving business.
Let me tell you how it all began. My Dad was a military man; thus, I was an army brat. Every year I was in a different school, different state, and sometimes, even a different country. I learned at a very young age that to be accepted (and noticed) you had to be wearing the latest fashion. Showing up my first day of a new school in the latest threads gave me the confidence and courage to jump right in. It was hard when you longed for Bergdorf’s and your mom wanted you to shop at Sears, or worse yet – the PX! But somehow I created a style all my own, taking the latest trends and turning them into my own fashion statement.
I subscribed to Women’s Wear Daily at 12 and the fashion world’s bible became mine. When I would spot a trend, I had to be first to have it among my peers. Starting with white pull-on go-go boots, mini skirts, pounds of black eye make up and great big Jackie O sunglasses, I was on the cutting edge and LOVED it! Nothing was more important to me than my fashion image. Somehow my closet and self esteem got intertwined. After college, I embarked on a career in fashion and landed a dream job with Calvin Klein.
Naturally, my real human love, a MAN, came in the form of a “garmento” (translation: a man whose life and business was fashion). Gap became Gucci, leather replaced vinyl, cashmere replaced wool and the word faux never crossed my lips again. At the wedding, I wore a custom, shirred, draped Norma Kamali gown. He was in black label Armani and we exchanged vows with Tiffany’s bands of love. The honeymoon was, you guessed it, a shopping trip to Milan.
As things happen, my Armani man found a more fashionable model. I cried in complete disbelief. How does a woman like myself, having been totally dependent on a man, make a living? With three small children and a once wealthy ex-husband on the verge of bankruptcy, how was I going to take care of us all? I had not worked in many years and the best I could find was a resale shop close by that successfully sold all my clothes on consignment, I thought, “Great, I can pay the rent, electricity and insurance for another month.” They hired me on and paid me $7.00 an hour, but I knew I had stumbled upon something much bigger: My ultimate career.