The NYC fashion industry is a fast paced, flashy, and anxiety ridden place for a girl in her 20’s. In your 30’s it is an uphill ladder that seems endless as a new mom, a mid level manager and career minded woman. By the time I made it to my late 30’s I was traveling around the world for 3 wks at a time and working 12 hrs with after work drinks to decompress on the daily. Between juggling the job and as a mom of 2 little babies I was cooked!
It’s been a while, almost 7 years to be exact, so I feel like I’ve had time to recover from my PTSD. I must admit tho, I took me years to fully heal.
Picture it, August 1999, fresh off of my college graduation, my parents dropped me off at my very first apartment w/ a mattress and my grandmother’s old couch. I had 136.00 in my checking account, a signed lease and 0 clue about life. I remember being on the streets of NYC with my large black portfolio in hand just walking up and down 7th avenue hoping for a break. After about 3 weeks of interviewing to find a job and surviving on 1.00 slices of pizza for sustinence, I was hired at J. Crew as a fashion intern. I was shitting my pants with excitement. I wanted to work there so badly I could taste it and here was the start to my journey in the NYC fashion industry.
I had a whole path ahead of me which was so bright and hopeful…I would work my ass off, weekends and evenings alike. I would get promotions and buy all of the designer shoes and bags my little heart desired. I would eat out at the fanciest restaurants and meet boys and smoke cigarettes and drink cosmos like the girls on Sex in the City. I was able to make mostly all of those things happen in my 15 years of ‘career building’. I made a lot of friends, built an amazing wardrobe, had a ton of laughs and made a huge amount of mistakes.
The path wasn’t alway so clear for me. Growing up w/ an inflated amount of insecurity about my intelligence, my asian’ness and doubting my overall worthy’ness, I was a petite little insecure mess. I always had a sharp sense of humor, both snarky and sarcastic and I wore my ‘fashion armor’ loud and proud. BTW, my ‘fashion armor’ would include anything I would buy to make myself feel special or better or pretty. It was usually a designer bag as this was my over indulgence of choice….still is TBH. This is how I operated for a better part of the first decade of my career. Looking at each job as an opportunity to grow and learn and develop, I always had my eyes on my material prize…looking head-to- toe fabulous. As time wore on and I got older, more tired and yet, more hungry for more material things…I became meaner and more impatient. I was a fashion monster, a bitch that never had enough…enough time, enough ideas, enough new outfits, enough everything. By this time I had a team of young girls working for me and I was working at a company that was a little ‘bat shit cray’ as I like to remember it. There were a lot of deconstructive criticisms given ‘why would you design this…this is so fugly’, many crying sessions, a ton of jealousy and shit talking, copious amounts of sparking rose (I think we ordered 10 bottles in one evening between 6 girls) and the list of insanity goes on. The picture I’m trying to paint is one of flash & fashion, everything extra including peoples over inflated personalities (mine included) verbal and emotional abuse and massive over indulgence on many levels. We were like a funded sorority with our dinners out to the best restaurants in Manhattan. Whatever we wanted x’s 10. That’s the way it went on…for years…