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A Designer's Dream

    I had a dream... OK, I won't go there!  But, the truth is that I did, in fact, have a dream to be a designer and to put on a show (well, many shows) during New York Fashion Week.  So, a young girl from Amish Country, PA came to the big city with stars in her eyes and passion in her heart.  Sadie (my dress form that I bought for $15 in 1985 and wheeled out of a store in the mall that was going out of business) and I, settled in NYC after finishing design school.
    The "Anna" dress -- sponsor JEC

    The "Emilia" dress -- sponsor JEC

    Immediately, I got into a pattern (or a rut as it proved).  Upon graduating from F.I.T., I needed to land a job within two weeks so that I could pay rent on the apartment that I managed to get... otherwise, I'd be kicked to the curb.  So, I took what I could get in the world of fashion and started as an assistant in an outerwear company and barely scraped by.  I continued down this path for many many years, leaving companies for better opportunities and bigger paychecks, but I never had the time or the means to actually venture out on my own.  As I say in the video (below) while backstage at my first show, "It's more than a 24/7 undertaking." 

    Since, I found myself with ample time recently (as the job market has all but disappeared), I decided it was the perfect moment to launch my line.  Crazy?  Maybe.  But, it worked!  The problem had always been financing -- how do I pay NYC rent and other expenses at the same time that I'm trying to put a collection together (which requires a lot of capital)?  I needed a miracle.  An angel.  Well, I found several angels.  Sixty-five to be exact.

    The gorgeous "Gwendolyn P" dress -- sponsored by Taffetadarlings reader and major supporter, Christine (note the Wendy Brandes "Cleopatra" earrings)

    The hot "Elizabeth" dress -- sponsored by fellow blogger and huge supporter, Elizabeth

    One day, I decided to raise money through sponsors to start my label.  Knowing that my concept for the collection was metal (titled "Precious Metal") I boldly approached Goldschläger Liqueur.  Liquor companies love getting involved with these kind of things, I thought.  They crave having their name/logo plastered all over the place and being that Goldschläger has flakes of 24 karat gold floating around, I didn't see how they could resist being part of my "Precious Metal" collection.  Well, they resisted.  They never responded to me.  OK, I won't hold it against them... they obviously don't know a good thing when it drops in their lap.  No offense taken!  So, what were my options?  Fabric companies?  They weren't giving me a dime.  What to do, what to do.  Enter social media expert, jewelry designer and blogger extraordinaire, Wendy Brandes.

    The sexy "WendyB" dress -- sponsored by the sexy WendyB!

    Most of you who read my blog are familiar with WendyB, her jewelry and her blog.  In fact, most of you who read my blog found me through WendyB!!  After my failed attempts to get sponsorship through companies, Wendy mentioned a website she had heard about called "Kickstarter," which provides a platform for all kinds of artists to generate funding for their projects.  I filled out all of the pertinent information, stated my case and submitted the forms to Kickstarter.  After four days, I received a notice that I had been approved and that I could launch my project.  Not sure of how this site would work for me or how many (or few) people it would actually reach, I set my goal number fairy low.  The catch is, if you don't reach the goal, you don't get the cash.  Even if you're $5 short.

    The "Jocelyn" dress -- sponsor, Jocelyn Jeffries-Bruno

    The "Melissa O" dress -- sponsor, Melissa Offenhartz

    To my surprise, my project took off at a blazing speed.  I received emails from people I'd never met wishing me well and rooting for me.  Many of those people became my sponsors and generously opened their wallets in the worst economy ever (well, close) to cheer me on and offer their help and support.  I admit, there were a few times I became completely overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude.  The outpouring of positive energy propelled me forward and helped me to put together my first collection under my own name! 

    The "Melissa DC" dress -- sponsored by fellow blogger, Melissa Doan-Cenker

    Everyone who stood behind me is an angel!  And not just my sponsors... my friends at Bernhard Link and Bricco Restaurant couldn't have been more helpful.  Randy, Steve, Christy, Sylvia, Ernest and David were troopers.  And of course, the brilliant, WendyB, mom & dad and my cool as hell sister, Kim!

    The "Suzette" dress -- sponsored by my mommy!

    The "Kimberly" dress -- sponsored by my sis

    Hope you enjoy all the photos and the backstage footage.  I'll post the show tomorrow!