My interest in fashion started as a fashion model in Cleveland Ohio where the local department stores hired me to model for their advertisements. Then, in 1979 my husband and I moved to Chicago where we would eventually go into business together as fashion photographers. To look the role of a fashion photographer, I decided I needed a “fashion coat” to wear on interviews with potential new clients. I searched the stores for one but could not find anything that had a “wow” factor so I decided to design and make one myself. What happened next surprised me. Every time I wore my new coat, complete strangers would walk up to me to ask what store I had purchased my coat from. It wasn’t long before I realized that I had a talent for designing and I decided to take it further.
I redesigned that coat into three different versions and took them to the Chicago Apparel Center to see if I could get them into a showroom. I found a showroom interested in selling my coats and they asked me if I would like to put them in the fashion show during market week. At the show, buyers could see many of the new fashions the showrooms were selling. I was so excited to have the chance to see my coats go down a fashion runway and quickly said YES! I invited my mother and sister to attend the show with me. Fifteen minutes into the show my coats came down the runway and the audience started to applaud. They had not done that before and I wondered why they were clapping. Confused, I looked at my sister and asked why they were clapping and she said with excitement, “It’s your coats. They’re clapping for your coats!”
After that show, I showed my coats to some interested stores but it wasn’t long before I realized that I was in over my head. I had a 2-year-old at home and I knew in my heart that I had neither the time nor money to devote to this new endeavor. It was then that I heard from the Holy Spirit. He said, “I showed you that I can open the doors for you to be a fashion designer when the time is right, but the time is not right. Wait for me to tell you when the time is right.”
Twenty-six years later I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit again. He said, “I want you to start that fashion line again. The time is right.” Why was the time right? I had just been divorced and I needed to replace all the loss I had just experienced. Overnight I had an empty house as my children were grown and on their own. This left me with an abundant amount of time on my hands. What I didn’t have was money. But that didn’t seem to matter to God. He still wanted me to start where I was and to trust Him to provide as I went forward.
Just when the Lord had asked me to restart my fashion line, Haiti had experienced their most destructive earthquake. I remember wanting to give to those hurting people but didn’t really have much money to give due to my divorce. While in prayer, the Lord gave me a vision (divinely inspired imagination). I was in heaven when a woman from Haiti who had gone through that earthquake approached me. She said to me, “Why didn’t you care enough about me to help me?” When she asked me that question, I immediately thought to myself, “Doesn’t she know that I was just divorced and was having financial difficulties myself?” But before I could say anything another thought came to my mind. “You live in America where you have the possibility of creating a business that could be very prosperous if you would just go for it.” Alongside of that thought came my emotional response. I had just turned 55 years old and did not know if I had enough desire in me to complicate my life with difficulties just to start a new business. I looked at the woman in shame and knew in my heart that I had to go forward no matter how hard the work would prove to be.
I was given a scripture by the Holy Spirit to prepare me for the difficult beginning years. “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” I knew from this communication that it was going to be a slow go. NO fast, overnight success stories for me.
So how did I start? I purchased some oversized men’s T-shirts and refashioned them into really cute women’s T-shirts and sold them on Etsy. Within a few years, I was spending thousands of dollars to produce a women’s line of clothes, selling them, and giving 10% of the profits to charity each year.
As I remember those beginning years, I mostly remember how much risk-taking it took to start my fashion line. I clung to the Lord trusting Him to make a way when there didn’t seem to be a way. I turned to prayer each day to get the mind of Christ because I knew I couldn’t do this without His help. And so, it continues today with more risk-taking and more prayer. I know in my heart it will never change, so no matter what the Lord asks me to do next, I know it will require courage and faith to go forward as He leads me. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t have it any other way because I love to watch God do what only He can do. What was impossible for me to do became possible through Him. How exciting is that?