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by • February 1, 2014 • Fashion, LifestyleComments (0)1673

Making It: Part 1 – New York City

I moved to New York City in June of 2009, before that time I had no intentions of ever moving to “The Big Apple.” A friend offered me a couch to sleep on and when the opportunity presented its self, for once, it seemed like my only option. For years I fought the notion that the only way to have a successful career in fashion was to be in the “Fashion Capital”.

I lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for 7 years prior to my big move. It was a great time in my personal life but career wise I had hit a plateau. I had made so many amazing friends in that time. People I would spend every day of my life with, people I couldn’t imagine living without. But,as great as things seemed, I knew something had to change.  It was a very easy life but there was no growth and no real market for my talents. My side jobs started falling through left and right, sales were down and things started looking hopeless. So… I moved. Remember, this was the aftermath of  the “2008 economic horror”. With $35 in my pocket and two cats on my back, I put 2 bags of clothing, some jewelry supplies and my sewing machine into a friend’s car and off we went.

During the first few years of my fabulous new life in New York City I was homeless 3 times. Ironically, each time was on and around my birthday in September. It could have been worse, I could have been born in January.  Lets just say that my mother’s children were all born under a curse. I lived on the streets for a brief period of time and I squatted in an abandoned apartment building in the heart of lovely Crown Heights (Brooklyn) for two weeks. (Don’t tell my mom. She worries enough as it is…) The hardest part about being homeless for me was having to find someone to watch my (babies) cats for me while I figured things out.

Luckily I found some really great Amazing people that selflessly helped me survive along the way. The friends who took me in, the friend who told me to visit him at work so he could feed me when I was starving and the friends who treated me like family in a city where people sell their own soul to finance their dreams. I was given a couch, a bed, a floor, a roof, a meal and more. I definitely had some divine spirits or “Angels” on my side.

he had planned on and later decided against killing me and stashing my limp body in his basement

I reached out on Craig’s List a few times for help and what I found was pretty interesting. I expected crazy, I expected sexually charged and I expected mean, but the majority were genuine people reaching out to me who said that they could tell that I too was genuine. I met with a few people who responded to my post and they offered me some very critical financial and metaphysical advice. One person in particular, who owns a small hotel chain,(who gave me the impression that he had planned on and later decided against killing me and stashing my limp body in his basement) listened to my story as we talked in his multi-million dollar pent house with the most amazing view of lower Manhattan I have ever seen, by way of window.  He just sat there the entire time evaluating my situation and weighing it against my self-worth. After about 2 hours, he stood up, handed me $40 and told me to go get something to eat. I refused the money that I so desperately needed and he insisted. So, I lived and ate that day. Bottom line, I have seen and been through it all. Way more than I can get into in this blog post without turning this into a full autobiographical novel.

Fast forward to present day, I am and have been pretty stable for some time now. I stuck my claws in and have hung on for almost 5 years now and have managed great hair the entire time. (I feel pretty good about that.) Now that I’m no longer stuck in survival mode and have room to breath, some new issues have come back into the spotlight of my mind. I recently went back to Pittsburgh for a few days to visit my friends. It was very cathartic for the most part. I felt welcomed and I was amazed by the amount of people who had been on the sidelines the entire time, following my progress and silently cheering me on. It was very humbling.

Most of these people were what I would refer to as “acquaintances”. They are genuinely interested and supportive people from my (Pittsburgh) life. They are people that I had not gotten to truly spend enough time with on a one-on-one basis, but were now somehow the ones that really shined through on this crash-course of a whirlwind style reunion. Meanwhile, some of the friendships that had once seemed integral to my future, were now nowhere to be found. Only present were their ghosts and lingering commentary regurgitated from the the mouths of others. Without dwelling on this point and going into further finger-pointing, certain conversations were brought to my attention. Comments like, “he’ll never make it,” or “he’ll never last”,  have left me to ponder a very perplexing question:

WHAT EXACTLY DOES MAKING IT CONSTITUTE!?

The way I look at it: I live in Manhattan in a nice apartment. I have my two cats and people who genuinely care about me. I have my own clothing company. I work at my own pace and at my own leisure. I order takeout. I can travel when I feel so inclined. I still have time for candy crush and PlayStation!  And oh yeah, I still have my soul.  So does it matter that I’m not living up to the societal standards of the 1%?

In my opinion, if you are enjoying the ride, enjoying the journey, you have made it. If you are doing what you love and you are happy with your life, no one can tell you that you haven’t made it. Maybe you don’t own a yacht (or a rocket) and you aren’t able to sail around the world at your own leisure with fistfuls of cash… but you are still a success because you are living life. When other people say things like, you’ll never make it” its merely them projecting their own insecurity and self doubt on to you. It’s their issue and it has absolutely nothing to do with you and your goals. It’s good to have drive and it’s great to strive for higher achievements, but don’t let them define your happiness.

All I have is the truth, my story, and what it has taught me, so that is what I am giving to you.

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