In the heart of Ephrata, PA, where time seemed to move a bit slower, I began my journey. Ephrata, a quaint town just beyond the borders of Lancaster, the renowned Amish capital of the world. But my story takes a turn when, at the tender age of seven, my father faced job loss, thrusting us into a whirlwind of change. Determined and hardworking, my father secured a new job that beckoned us to a town named Eureka, Missouri.
Nestled in the shadow of fame for its floods, tornados, and football prowess (shout out to Maurice Alexander, a classmate who made it to the NFL!), Eureka became our new home. Although I technically lived in in Wildwood, MO, yet my days were spent navigating the hallways of Eureka's schools.
Eureka schools were more diverse than others in the area, and boasted one of the nation's finest school districts. The people were warm and kind for the most part, and I made friends easily once I adjusted to the cultural differences (there were more than you might think!)
Our move to Missouri elevated us from lower-middle-class struggles to a more stable middle-class lifestyle. However, my mother, the indomitable Pam, never cared for the mall, and we shopped at the Gap outlet and Goodwill. Yes, long before Goodwill became a trendy haunt, my sisters and I were already familiar faces there.
High school marked the onset of my fervent affair with fashion. Vogue subscriptions graced my mailbox alongside Motor Trend because, as they say, I had the "need for speed." However, Eureka, MO, wasn't exactly a fashion mecca. I stood out among my peers, donning three belts, long skirts, dresses, and the occasional (albeit itchy) vintage wool sweater from my mom's closet. At the age of 13, I snagged the coveted "Best Dressed" title in middle school, a distinction that ignited a passion for fashion that still burns brightly today.
Despite the shift to a more creative career being unconventional, my family supported my artistic inclinations. From the age of 15, I immersed myself in art classes, fashion experimentation, and even took up sewing to create my own garments. Standing tall at 5'11" in a small town presented challenges, but I turned them into opportunities, crafting my homecoming and prom dresses and repurposing pillowcases into tank tops and got creative with my sister clothes (sorry Chels and Shannon :D).
Pillowcase turned tank top 2007
Handmake Homecoming dress with my date Austin
Handmade prom dress with my best friends Christina Pucci and Jenna Berkely. For context, Jenna is 6'2 (the tallest girl in our class)
Fast forward to senior year, (see photo above), and I was sewing my way through life, soaking in every fashion show, magazine, or book I could lay my hands on. I fell deeply in love with Alexander Mcqueen from the desktop dial-up computer in our game room.
I ended up at FIT, and was lucky enough to spend my first year there in Florence, Italy. I lived right next door to Clochard, a beautiful vintage shop in the center of Florence. I split my free time between trips, museums and vintage and consignment shops. And let me tell you, that was an education. After working at Greene Street Consignment during my college breaks, I thought I knew designer fashion. Boy, was I wrong. There was so much to look at, so much to discover, and my young brain soaked it all in.
After a year in Florence, I returned to NYC to finish my degree. And NYC and I did not get along. I felt overwhelmed and underwhelmed all at once, and I knew I needed to find another place to call home after college. I headed back to my home state of PA after graduation and began working at a vintage shop right after graduation. This little shop in West Chester called Malena's taught me so much about dating clothing, high-end construction, quality materials and more.
From this rich tapestry of experiences, Tesoro was born, consuming the next seven years of my life. Despite the hardships, the business instilled in me a sense of purpose, a community of talented entrepreneurs, and a clientele deeply appreciative of craftsmanship. Closing Tesoro, though, was a tumultuous chapter, questioning my identity and worth, leaving my future hanging in uncertainty.
Fast forward to two months ago, a sudden layoff once again pushed me into financial uncertainty. Desperate job searches have yet to yield interviews, prompting a realization – perhaps it's time to forge my path once more. Now, as I embark on a new venture, blending styling and vintage curation, I'm also consulting to help a fellow entrepreneur open a store.
If you've journeyed through this lengthy narrative, thank you for exploring my passion for fashion, clothes, and the resilient spirit propelling me to start anew. Drop me a line if you wish to share your story or have questions about this exciting new venture I'm undertaking.