If you have read the “About Me” section, you have already had a brief glimpse into the last few years of my life, and incase that left you wanting to know more, I thought I’d write a little about how I got to this point.
Way back in the past (2006 to be exact) I graduated from University in the UK with a degree in Bio-archaeology. What the heck is that, I hear you all cry? Well, it’s a very interesting part of archaeology that deals with bones, plants and other lab based excitement. I enjoyed my degree but by the time I had finished it, we were already seriously considering a move to the States, where there was very little of this kind of work available so I kind of knew it wasn’t going to be something I would carry on with, at least for a while.
We finally moved to Texas in the December of 2006 and boy, what a change it was. Having my husband’s parents already living here was a great help, and we lived with them for over 2 years while Hal studied for his Masters. Life in Texas is worthy of a whole post all of its own, stay tuned!
What did I do in this time? Well, my Visa excluded me from pretty much doing anything at all, so I spent my time teaching myself to sew again, something I had always enjoyed before the move. I liked to make purses and other cute things and sold one or two to friends and family. I decided to try and improve my skills as much as I could, by reading and learning as much as I could from the web etc. My Gran had taught me to sew while I was growing up, and sadly, just as I got back into sewing, My Gran died. For those reading this who knows me, you know what a profound effect my Gran’s death had on me, we were very close, and it was rather unexpected. Living in a different country with this going on was difficult but I got through it, although I still don’t think I’m “over it”, or ever will be.
After this, I made more of an effort than ever to try and make something of myself and eventually managed to change my Visa to allow me to study. I chose to study Fashion Design at the local college, even though I had no idea if I was any good at it. I had run out of things to learn on my own, and really needed some proper instruction if I was to improve my skills. Mostly, I was so bored at home all the time that I really needed to get out and meet people, something that isn’t easy to do when you don’t drive etc.
I started school and it was a bit of a revelation to me. I was pretty good at learning and my sewing skills were not bad. I made friends, both students and teachers and really felt like I was doing what I should be doing. It was exciting, and a bit terrifying in equal measure. Learning to sketch with our amazing yet scary sketching teacher was mostly responsible for the fear part. Never again will I attempt to draw hands for fear of hearing the words “These hands, they give me nightmares” said in a thick Bond-like Russian accent. I made it through (mostly) unscathed and my skills in all areas improved dramatically. I went from being someone who could sew bits and pieces, and follow patterns to someone who could sketch and drape my own ideas and construct full garments. It still seems like magic to me, even now, how a piece of fabric can be turned into a garment on a dress-form with a few pins, darts and tucks.
In my first semester at school (yes, I call it school, I always have) I was “encouraged (read: bullied) by one of my teachers into entering a Little Black Dress contest. I had been at the school for 6 weeks and had no intention of putting myself “out there “ like that but as the deadline grew nearer, something in my brain would not stop telling me to try and make something. Finally, 2 days before the deadline I decided to have a go, assuming I wouldn’t have time to finish it, that I would fail etc, but that I had at least tried. A sleepless weekend later, filled with tears, tantrums, blood and sweat, I had a finished LBD to enter.
I told myself that the very fact I had entered something was good enough for me; I had proven myself etc. Of course, this was all rubbish I told myself to hide the fact I didn’t think I could win. Well, a few weeks later and the top 10 designs were announced, and I was one of them. Shocked does not even begin to cover it. I was stunned, but also really happy. I felt it proved I was in the right place, doing the right thing. I told myself that being in the top 10 was enough, and that I was happy with that. When I got a phone call a few weeks later telling me I had won 3rd place, I was beyond thrilled. I don’t think I came down for a week! I was so happy. The prize money was also kind of nice!
This was really the start of me believing that a career in fashion might be for me. Winning one contest does not make you a success or a “Fashion Designer” but it seemed to be enough to prove to myself that I had the potential to do this and that other people believed I had the talent to be there.
Being involved in the LBD contest gave me a taste of what a life in fashion could be; the backstage mayhem, seeing your clothes on a runway, winning awards and going to posh parties. Realistically, life in fashion really isn’t like that, they don’t tell you the bad bits but I think I have my head on straight enough to know that what I have chosen for myself isn’t really all parties and cocktails, but hard work, disappointment and endless self promotion.
Is it worth it? That’s the real question. I guess for a lot of people, it isn’t. For me, I think it is. I have nothing to lose really. I am restricted in what I can do over here in the States, and so I intend to make this work, as I have everything to gain. Did I mention I’m also stubborn!
Anyway, this post is beyond epic, so I will leave it there for now. Tune in soon for more talking about myself, more LBD’s, and Hats, Hats, Hats!