I had just moved to California from Connecticut and found a job at a high-end Malibu home decor store. It was 1994, and although the Northridge earthquake struck the first night I spent in Los Angeles, I was finally beginning to feel settled. I made my apartment “homey” with some slipcovered furniture and decorative pillows I had sewn together. Then I received a call from work. There was no more work. The store had locked its doors forever and my paycheck wasn’t happening.
After a bit of panic I focused on fixing my situation. That’s when my boyfriend at the time (and now husband) Joe had an idea… “Why don’t you make some more of those pillows and sell them to stores? People pay a lot of money for that stuff.” The week before, my former boss had asked me to throw away some fabric swatch samples, but I thought they were beautiful, and threw them into the trunk of my car. Within hours I had emptied my trunk — and with the help of additional fabrics I bought with my last dollars — I created 30 pillows. Cut to: me and Joe walking up Santa Monica’s trendy Montana Avenue with Hefty bags full of pillows. The first store we walked into bought 29 of them!
Fast-forward 16 years later. We had four beautiful daughters and my home decor business had grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise. I published a book; had been in magazines and on the cover of magazines. I went on dozens of TV shows and even got to go on Oprah! My business had sold product in the hundreds of millions of dollars at retail. It was all pretty unreal.
Then something really unreal happened. My daughter Cecilia, 8-years-old at the time, was diagnosed with a very serious and rare form of cancer. After forty-six weeks of triple chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation to the head, she was unrecognizable. Our business instantly fell into the “huh- what’s that?” category. It didn’t matter. And if it did, there was no way I could focus on it and neither could Joe. I couldn’t even bring myself to get in the shower for days. But we got through it, and today Cecilia is a year past her treatments and a healthy, happy, beautiful 10-year-old.
Now, I’m finally back to designing, and am excited about this kids’ shoe sale on Gilt. It’s part of my professional re-emergence from the rubble of a devastating twist that life had in store for my family. And I am so excited and honored to be able to share this story and my designs with all of you. In the months to come, I will have products debuting across lots of exciting categories, including apparel, nursery decor, and diaper bags (or as I like to call them ‘mamma bags’). Most importantly, I can still work from home and be here for my family. As for the future, I have very high hopes. But I have learned to hold my breath for nothing and no matter how dark or amazing life may be at any moment, I will always remember to take it one day at a time.