Meeting my favorite fashion blogger, Emily Schuman, creator of Cupcakes and Cashmere

Cupcakes and Cashmere holiday party at Club Monaco's Flagship Store, NYC - December 10, 2013

Cupcakes and Cashmere holiday party at Club Monaco’s Flagship Store, NYC – December 10, 2013

How does the mailman’s unofficial creed begin? “Neither rain, no sleet, nor snow …” That’s how it was for me today: nothing, not a heavy snow fall or freezing rain or cold temps, could stop me from heading to New York to meet Emily Schuman, creator of Cupcakes and Cashmere, and my all-time favorite fashion and lifestyle blogger. I was determined to brave the elements in order to meet Emily at Club Monaco’s Flagship Store in the Flatiron District of New York City. Continue reading

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When fashion design becomes designing your life

Danielle Kort

Danielle Kort

Meeting Danielle Kort is like smiling from the inside out. She is young and vivacious for sure, but there is depth in her being and a purpose to her life. These are the qualities that are pushing her forward from a career in fashion design to one as a life coach. And aren’t we lucky because those who work with her will be able to tap into the wonderful energy that transformed her own life. Here is my conversation with Danielle …

MKG: You grew up in Nebraska. Did you always want to be a fashion designer? Did you picture yourself in New York City?

Danielle: When I was about 10, I started to think about being a fashion designer. It was all I wanted to do. My mom told me I was good with design and when I was 12, she supported me by buying me my first sewing machine. From that moment on, I didn’t stop making outfits. My entire family lives in Nebraska, but I always knew that I wanted to live in New York. Always.

MKG: The story of your move to New York is remarkable. How did it unfold?

Danielle: I knew that I would major in fashion design and the big question for me was where I should attend school. Continue reading

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Maestra Sarta (Master Seamstress)

The maestra sarta

Josephine’s mother, maestra sarta

Josephine’s mother was a maestra sarta, a master seamstress, which was and still is a highly respected and honorable profession in Italy, where she was born. This is the story of Josephine’s mother and the gift she gave two generations of women …

My mom was born in a small town in Italy in 1931. She loved school and hoped to continue her education, but when she finished the 8th grade her family needed her at home to help out. It was the early 1940s, the country was at war, supplies were scarce, and my mother was the oldest of five children. Her mom was not well. She was needed: she sewed shirts, using parts of older shirts to fix newer ones, washed clothes by hand, and ironed for hours so that her younger siblings and extended family had the proper clothing to continue attending school or work. Her family was refined and tried to maintain a normal life despite food shortages and the other casualties of war. My mom remembers that her uncle, a shoemaker, made her high-heeled shoes out of a leather bag and wood. Growing up, I was often told about those shoes; my mom received many compliments when she wore the shoes with a dress she had made.

As the war ended and her younger siblings continued their schooling, my mom had to figure out what to do. She felt that she was too old to start high school and she was still helping out at home. Her dad offered to pay for her to apprentice with a master tailor. She would learn how to design clothing and cut a pattern and sew. This was a very respected profession in those days since many people had their clothes made for them. There weren’t any malls in Italy where people could shop for mass-produced clothing. Since most women of her generation lived with their parents or their husbands and never worked, my grandfather was rather progressive. My mom continued her training in fits and starts, as she also helped at home. She made clothing for her extended family and friends but never worked for a company or opened her own business. In spite of the hardships she faced she remained faithful to her passion: she loved the latest fashions, followed fashion in magazines and imitated the styles of the time, adapting to her conservative culture when needed. Continue reading

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Happy Birthday, Grandma!

My Grandma Eleanor on her engagement day - what a fashionista!

My Grandma Eleanor on her engagement day – what a fashionista!

Although April 15th may bring fear to the hearts of many as the official day income taxes are due, for me it will always be a day of sunshine: April 15th was my Grandma Eleanor’s birthday. She passed away in 1991 at the age of 85, and had she lived she would be 106 years old today! My mother has always said that the trees start to bloom on my Grandma’s birthday and I know she is right. My Grandma Eleanor was not only a light in my life, but a burst of color for the world. Born in Hungary, she moved to New York City with her family when she was just seventeen, and changed her name from Elona to Eleanor because I guess she thought it sounded more American. Eleanor had vibrant red hair and with her long, lovely legs, she wore clothes so beautifully and elegantly. And her inner beauty truly matched her outer self.

Here she is on her engagement day, with my grandfather. The year was probably 1926. People dressed so much more formally in the 1920s. You can see the style of dress for the times in her cloche-style hat and coat.

Oh, and yes – I see the trees outside are starting to bud! Happy Birthday, Grandma!

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Farnoosh’s sister

Farnoosh’s sister Fara

Do you remember Farnoosh? She moved to The United States from Iran ten years ago with her parents and two older sisters. We spoke about how difficult the move and transition was for her at the tender pre-teen age of twelve, about how Farnoosh views fashion, and about the need for us to express ourselves, no matter what our circumstance; even when restrictions are placed upon us and our expression comes in the form of colorful fashion accessories, as in the case of Farnoosh’s female cousin, who lives in a modern-day Iran.

I spent the last morning of 2012 having a cup of coffee with Farnoosh and her oldest sister, Fara (her middle sister, Farnaz, lives in San Diego). Fara is 29 and is living in Chicago as she pursues her Master’s Degree in Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Like her sister, Fara is lovely and creative and full of energy. She has her own story and relationship with fashion. Here is Fara …

“When we left Iran I was nineteen. It took me a while to get comfortable, but I was open to the move. I had already graduated from high school in Iran and had an idea that I wanted to be an artist. I stayed local when I first arrived, and for the first year and a half learned English as a second language at Seton Hall University. Immediately I knew that the school was too small for me and that I needed more. I was drawn to New York City and left Seton Hall for New York, where I attended NYIT, the New York Institute of Technology, and graduated with a degree in architecture …

I’m a city person and from the minute I came to New York I was happy. I loved the energy and the diversity and how people in NY are original, especially in the way they think and dress. My favorite thing to do became walking: I would walk everywhere! I was inspired by the streets and the windows. That might be why I dislike shopping in malls where everything is so generic and everyone looks the same. I can’t be linked to only one brand and one designer, head-to-toe. I like variety and dressing high and low. That is why I am a fan of H&M …

I would describe my look as chic enough but not too fancy. I enjoy mixing pieces and remaining eclectic. My passions remain shoes and handbags!” ~ Fara

Fara and Farnoosh have adopted their American life but also embrace their Iranian culture. We had an interesting conversation about what that means. I shared with them that I have Colombian blood and at one time I wasn’t comfortable embracing it, but as I get older, I understand that it is a major part of who I am and I treasure it. I guess that explains why I love Latin music and always want to start salsa dancing … even though I don’t know how!!

I hope I meet Farnoosh and Fara again soon – and meet their middle sister next – Farnaz!

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Fara with Farnoosh

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Fara with me

 

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Go West Young Man!

Vidar with his daughter Charlie

Vidar was born in Norway and lived there until he moved to upstate New York for Graduate School. From there, he moved to New York City and remained in the tri-state area to live and work and raise a family. Why leave a comfortable and affluent life in Norway? Vidar explains …

I was seeking something that was the opposite of everything I knew. I left a very comfortable life in Norway because I couldn’t imagine not making my own destiny. My father was self employed and my grandparents were as well. That inspired me to do the same. I was ready to ‘Go West Young Man!‘ … Continue reading

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