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If I could offer any kind of advice to todays youth and young 20 somethings, it would be this: slow down.
We currently live in a society where primary importance is placed materialism. In my eyes, the majority (not all, thankfully) of today’s youth have one goal in mind—to achieve financial success as quickly as humanly possible, by any means necessary (with highly limited skills and lack of knowledge). What they don’t realize though, is that the road getting there is not only a gamble, but it can be a rather meaningless one. Not only is there a high risk of failure, but if you remotely achieve success, you’ll eventually discover that the work is unsatisfying and the end result may not always lead to what one would consider a happy life. Today we all want too much, too quickly, all while doing as little as possible. Everyone wants to be an instant and famous millionaire, with little or no talent, and unauthentic passion. This to me, is a recipe for failure. Success, in my eyes, is not how much money you make, and what you can buy with that money. Success to me is doing something you genuinely love and are passionate about (not to mention good at), and reaping the benefits of that.
Growing up, I didn’t really have a specific idea as to what I wanted my career to be. I knew 2 things—1) that I wanted to make the world a more beautiful place by creating visually beautiful things, and 2) that I wanted people to buy those things and for them to truly love them as much as I did. That was it. I didn’t want to become wealthy and the envy of others. I didn’t want attention or the spotlight to shine on me. I just wanted to create beautiful things, and for these beautiful things to be appreciated by the world.
After graduating college, if you asked me where I thought my career would end up, I would have never guessed designing dresses for special occasion and bridal wear. Never. However, now looking back I recall a project that I did for my work co-op senior class in high school. The objective was to create a business and do a presentation on what the business was, and how you intended to achieve success with it. Funnily enough, the business I created was a bridal boutique. I actually purchased a tiny 12” dress form, hand sewed a miniature strapless “wedding dress”, and went to town with the foam tri-fold board. After my presentation, I overheard my teacher say to a group of students, “She is going to be very successful.” It made me smile, but I didn’t think too much about her comment. I was actually thinking about how good I was at putting together a stellar presentation at the last minute. Ha!
When I graduated college, I dabbled in interiors, dipped into graphic design, and ultimately, with a few strokes of luck (and people believing in me), I ended up doing special occasion and bridal design in New York City. Kismet? I genuinely think so. The work can be difficult, taxing, and mentally exhausting, but the end result is so incredibly rewarding. The idea of someone spending their hard earned money on something I designed with my eyes and my hands, and with my name on it—that to me is the definition of personal success. My work co-op teacher was right—I did end up becoming “very successful”—but it doesn’t mean I had to have a massive bank account to show for it, or fancy material things to prove it. The real reward comes from within.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” —Maya Angelou
I have lived in New York City for 4 years—going on 5. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, I grew up in a neighborhood that did not have the best reputation when it came to safety and comfort. I attended schools where talk of gangs, drugs, and violence were the norm. At an early age, I learned how to fend for myself with a “tough girl” mentality as a result of my environment. I feared nothing. Still though, being raised in the south, you were taught manners. You opened doors for others, smiled at strangers, had casual conversations with random people. You could say I found that balance between being the tough girl when I had to be, but sweet as molasses with southern manners. I said my Thank You’s and Yes Ma’am’s, but I didn’t have a problem putting my foot down when lines were crossed.
When I moved to New York, I was in awe of the stark difference in the people. When we paid the toll to actually get into Manhattan, we were greeted by a slew of words of profanity by the toll booth operator when we asked for a receipt. What a welcome. I thought to myself, I could survive here. It was just like my pre-college experience, but in real life. I got this.
Four plus years later, you could say the southern girl in me was as faded as a pair of stonewashed jeans. When tourists would attempt to make conversation with me, I didn’t feel like talking. When people would hold open doors for me, I didn’t understand why. Anyone looking at me for more than 5 seconds was greeted with an agitated sigh and a slight eye roll. The only time I was remotely a southern gal was when it came to the elderly and children. Perhaps it was the fast living. Perhaps with was the people. Perhaps it was the influence around me. I had slowly become the stereotypical New York transplant. I had become someone I did not like.
I am a firm believer that in order to change, grow, and contribute positively to society, one must not only be open minded, but open to changing and working on their mistakes to continually self improve. I believe this because I know people who are ignorant, close minded, and in self denial of their flaws. These people not only seem deeply unhappy, but they somehow find satisfaction in others’ misfortunes. They have violent tendencies and are vengeful individuals.
I became very self aware of the change that occurred within me after several years of residing in New York City. I can actually pinpoint the day I realized it, and how it changed the way I saw myself and who I was.
It was early January. As I was picking up a heavy load of supplies in the Garment District, I was forced to hail a cab instead of taking the usual MTA Subway Transit. The cab ride was uneventful until the cab driver pulled up to my Greenwich Village apartment. Never one to have cash on me, I pulled out my credit card. Most New Yorkers know that cab drivers despise the use of credit cards as payment. Cab drivers lose money because they have to pay a fee per transaction with the credit card machine. For some reason the machine wasn’t “working”. While the cab driver was attempting to fix the problem, the meter was still running. I was being charged while sitting in the cab, even though my ride was supposed to be over. Furious, I asked the cab driver to turn off the meter. Fumbling, he started telling me he had to get the machine fixed, while ignoring my request. I could feel my blood boiling. I began accusing the cab driver of swindling me and pretending that the machine was broken, so that he may be forced to take me to an ATM, which meant I would be charged for the ride home, the ride to the ATM, and back. I. Was. Livid. Having lived here for over four years, I knew how NYC cab drivers operated. Most, but not all of them are honest people.
Finally, after what seemed like half an hour later, the cab driver turned off the meter and the machine began to work. After having a near heart attack and screaming at the top of my lungs, the cab driver said to me in his thick foreign accent, “You need to RELAX. Not everything is in our control. I did the best I could. You need to realize, WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.” He repeated the last line, “We are all in this together”, three times. That line just hit me. I pulled myself together, and apologized to him. “I’m sorry. You’re absolutely right. I was out of line, and it was completely unnecessary. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I’m terribly sorry.” I was genuinely sorry. I thanked him, and got out of the cab.
After I walked up to my apartment, I felt awful. Who WAS that? That definitely was not who I was, and it was not how I was raised. Even if the cab driver was swindling me, I still reacted very poorly. Just because someone was being unfair to me, I allowed my anger to consume me, and I allowed it to turn me into someone I was not. The fact was, we actually ARE in this together. We as human beings, on this earth, have a responsibility to treat each other with respect and kindness. Anger, vengeance, retaliation, and disrespect—those are all characteristics of weak, simple minded, and ignorant people who allow their passions to dictate their behavior. This behavior breeds violence, which is an impediment to what we ALL strive for—peace.
I have remembered this fateful day since, and have made a conscious effort to bring back the person I was before I became nearly unrecognizable. I still stay true to my roots, I still have thick skin, and I never forget to say “please, thank you, or you’re welcome.” When you become aware of your flaws, and you work on becoming a better person, you find a clear direction of your purpose in life. The higher you elevate your soul, the closer you are to your purpose. In order to do this, you must keep your mind and heart open. Acknowledge and apologize for your mistakes. Work on progressing, not regressing. Practice forgiveness, not vengeance. Most importantly, be genuine while doing it.
I grew up on classic children’s stories. I loved reading as a child, and I love reading these classics in the present day because as an adult you see a different interpretation of the stories. You can relate them to your real life experiences.
I recently started thinking about the Hans Christian Andersen tale called ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. The synopsis of the story is as follows:
A vain Emperor who cares for nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but continues the procession.
As an adult reading this tale, I see a handful of ways it relates to real life. In my eyes, there are two kinds of people:
The first is the kind of person who goes through life staying virtually the same. They maintain the same habits (bad or good), have the same point of view, and live in their own worlds—content (at least seemingly so), and completely unaware of whether their stagnant state can be negative. If anyone were to inform the first person of their behavior, habits, or wrongdoings, this person would be in complete denial. Everyone is at fault but them. In this person’s head, if they believe something, nothing could possibly change how they feel—even if they are completely wrong. The world revolves around this person, and only this person—everything is about them. This person tends to react instantly without knowing the actual facts, because in their head, what they believe rings true, and therefore they must be right. This person holds grudges, maintains feuds, and tends to be unforgiving—and even vengeful. Because of this person’s dominant and negative nature, those around this person are afraid to tell them what kind of person they truly are. Unfortunate ignorance is this person’s main flaw. This person is The Emperor.
The second kind of person is the person who is continuously evolving and changing. This person goes through the cycles of life open minded, self aware, making mistakes and continuously attempting to correct said mistakes. The second kind of person owns up to their mistakes (of magnitudes large or small), acknowledges them, and works to change them. This person keeps their mind open to criticism and will take that criticism without instant anger, violence, or utter opposition. This person is completely self aware—of how they are themselves, and how everyone around them views them. This person does not react instantly, does not choose a side without hearing all sides, and does not allow their passions to dictate their reactions or life. This person is forgiving, strives to move forward, and believes in mending broken relationships. This person is the person who will not only succeed in life, but will continue to grow and prosper personally and professionally. The second kind of person is the person I believe all should aspire to work at becoming, if they are not already.
At 31, I value this classic tale more than I ever have in my life. To me, the key to happiness, success, and fruition is the ability to change, grow, and continuously be self aware. None of us are perfect, but we should all strive to simply be better. We all make mistakes, we all sin, and we all fall. It is how we change, redeem ourselves, and get back up that matters the most. Ultimately, our ability to grow and want to grow will result in happiness within ourselves, and all around us. Now doesn’t that make you happy?
Last night I had the pleasure of having a good dinner with great company. Seated in a cozy corner of En Japanese Brasserie in the West Village, four Texas to NYC transplants shared laughter, inspirational stories, backgrounds, and exuded positive energy. Doah—a sweet but very sassy events extraordinaire, Rose—an ambitious firecracker and uber talented stylist, Margaret—a driven beauty with a unique gem of a personality, and me.
I always talk about how lucky I am to live in New York City. The energy of New York is constantly stimulating, and I get to meet people who add a different dimension of inspiration to my life on a daily basis. Case in point—the company at dinner last night.
Lets be real, it’s hard to be a girl. We’re lucky to find girlfriends who are genuinely supportive, positively uplifting, loyal, have pure intentions, and zero sense of competition. Luckily, last night, these girls were all of the above and more. To say that I had the fortune of sharing a space with these talents for a few hours—well that’s quite a blessing.
Whether you are building your career or an any kind of journey of self discovery, I cannot stress enough the importance of surrounding yourself by people who positively influence your life. By doing so, you are bringing positive energy towards yourself, which permeates through you and everything you do. Maximize your time with these people, and you will see a noticeable difference in your life. You have nowhere else to go but UP.
P.S. Take the time to get to know some of last night’s company!
Margaret has an awesome fashion/DIY/food/fun blog called: http://www.neatobonito.com
Rose is an up and coming amazing stylist, recently featured in People Magazine after winning Smashbox’s styling contest: http://stylebyrosetran.com
|—||Fashion inspiration. Stay true to who you are. Isabel Marant (via thatkindofwoman)|
Thank you so much for the kind words! I love connecting with independent creatives :) Wishing you a fantastic weekend!
A Post On Engagement Rings
What’s your style?
In light of the recent engagements of many of those around me, I wanted to write a thoughtful post on engagement rings.
Your engagement ring—a symbol of love and a promise of marriage, usually depicts the aesthetic and taste of your soon to be husband/husband, or yourself, if you are one of those girls who decides you know what you want on your finger for the rest of your life. I love (and am quite impressed) when a man chooses the ring by himself—with little or no help. It either shows that he has great taste, or that he knows exactly what the love of his life wants.
My thoughts on engagement rings? It’s all about the design (and of course the promise behind it!). I’ve seen big/flashy and almost gaudy rings (I shudder inside), and I’ve seen stunning diamond rings that are under a carat. The Dolly Pearl point of view? Bigger is not always better. As a designer, details, refinement, and style overrule size, clarity, and flashiness. I love to see uniqueness and something unexpected. It impresses me much more than just a big diamond ring. At the same time, simplicity can also be quite beautiful to me. The most important thing is that it’s worn with pride and love, and that you as the bride-to-be, are completely head over heels over it!
Thanks to Pinterest, I am able to look at gorgeous designs all day everyday! Here is a collection of striking rings that caught my eye:
1. I never really thought of a band as an “engagement ring” until my sister got engaged. I love the idea that there doesn’t have to be a big center stone to symbolize an engagement. This beautiful band of emerald cut diamonds is quite the stunner. If I could start over, I’d probably prefer this (exact ring!) over the traditional engagement ring.
2. A classic and simple emerald cut is one of my favorites. So sophisticated, elegant, and the tiny pave details on the band really enhance the beauty of the center stone without overwhelming and overshadowing it.
3. This is not particularly my taste, but I thought it was so fresh and modern that I wanted to add it to the mix. The milgrain detail surrounding the diamonds make it so special.
4. I love a vintage cut ring. This is not particularly my taste, but it’s unique nonetheless. As you can tell, I’m also a huge fan of milgrain details over a halo surrounding the stone. It just frames the diamond perfectly without taking attention away from the center stone. The details on the band give it such a beautiful antique feel.
5. Simply a stunner. Even if the diamond was half the size, the design of this ring impresses me in every way. The milgrain detail and the design of the pave on the band is gorgeous.
6. This art deco design is so modern and sophisticated. No frills here, just simplicity at it’s best. The asscher cut diamond has to be almost flawless because you can literally see through the diamond looking down.
7. I think the oval cut diamond is so underrated and beautiful—at any size. It’s so multi-faceted that it needs no other detail on or around it to capture the essence of the cut. One of my favorite cuts.
8. I actually saw this Chopard diamond in a Paper City in Houston years and years ago. It always stuck in my mind as the most perfectly designed ring. Yes the stone is HUGE and flawless, but if it were scaled down to even a quarter of its size, the design would still be so unbelievably beautiful to me. There’s something about the way this diamond is framed that is so sophisticated.
9. I found this ring on Etsy.com. Can you believe it? It’s so GORGEOUS. You’d be surprised at where you find the most beautiful rings. A ring designed so simply like this one can have me gushing for days on end, as opposed to a big flashy ring. I love the look of gold too. It’s really making a comeback. Look at how stunning that is!
10. Another vintage cut. SO Dolly Pearl. Those side details are just perfect.
11. Another asscher cut stunner from Tiffany & Co. I love how delicately the details frame the center stone. This ring is feminine, delicate, and unique.
But really, the sheer braveness and determination which you led you to NY and leads you now, is incredible and I hope that will be me as I embark on my own journey. I'm so impressed that you're in your late twenties and have achieved so much. I wish you the best and please keep writing as it's wonderful to read!
BTW--love that your tumblr has content beyond images!
*also, weird question, do you know a tumblr of "Hello Miss Dang"? Your tumblr and hers are the only ones that I've found engaging and positive. It's funny, b/c she's from Houston and was in fashion? Anyhoo! Thanks again!
Hi there! This must be like a year too late, but I’m now discovering that Tumblr offers mail and messages! Thank you so very much for your kind words and well wishes! I am from Houston, but have lived here in NYC for four years, so I’m definitely out of the “Houston scene” for sure :) I do know Hello Miss Dang! We’re friends and neighbors! What a small world! Have a fabulous week <3
Thank you for the kind words! I’m actually now discovering the tumblr has messages and mail! LOL! This made my day!
As 2012 begins to come to an end, I’ve spent the last month or so reflecting on Dolly Pearl, my humble beginnings, my career highlights, and the growth of my company. It’s been an amazing two years, and I am a very lucky gal. When I first started out selling handmade tops on Etsy, I didn’t have a clue that it would lead me to where I am now. All it takes is just one person to believe in you, and that can be the fuel you need to shoot for the stars. Luckily, I had many believe in me—and firmly. I was honestly surprised to start getting orders from my own friends and family. I am forever grateful to my first customers—people who loved my work, and were willing to spend their hard earned money on something that I had produced from my very own hands. That feeling is indescribable. Fast-forward only 2 years, and Dolly Pearl is sold all over the country and internationally! Below are my career highlights thus far. I feel so grateful and blessed to be where I am.
(In no particular order)
1. Winning the Daily Candy ‘Start Small, Go Big’ contest! My first real career achievement—having friends, family, and complete strangers, vote for me daily to get me to the top!
2. Being contacted by the franchise owner of Bella Bridesmaid, Bridget Brown—so major! She talked me into do a capsule collection for Bella, and that’s how I transitioned into the bridal industry. Forever grateful!
3. Meeting Isaac Mizrahi—a design ICON. I still remember flipping through the pages of VOGUE magazine at age 9, and looking at the spreads with his phenomenal designs on them. Finally meeting him and talking with him—one of my favorite moments ever.
4. Meeting and getting to know Rebecca Minkoff. It’s was such an experience to hear how Rebecca Minkoff started out in the industry, and to watch her company grow to where it is today. She is truly a kind person with great words of advice and wisdom. It was such an honor!
5. Shortly after winning Daily Candy in 2010, I was contacted by a beautiful young woman, Brandi Bennett, and her lovely mother-in-law. It was my first real big bridal party (a pretty big deal!), and what a stunning wedding it was! So proud to have been a part of that.
6. Meeting all the talented and driven women of Daily Candy, as well as the fellow contest winners. What a group of strong women. Very inspirational, and a time I’ll never forget.
7. My first trade show earlier this year! It was such a big deal to me. It was so great to have other booth owner, buyers, and editors come to my booth and gush over my designs. These are all words of encouragement to me, and really validate my decision to go into fashion design. It was so fun and taxing, yet exciting. I can’t wait for my next one.
8. Hearing the founder of Bella Bridesmaid, Bridget Brown, tell me that Amsale Aberra (bridal designer extraordinaire) loved my design (that Bridget wore) at an industry party during Bridal Market in 2011. It was the New Romans style—a classic. Best. Compliment. Ever.
9. Moving from a tiny studio on the Upper East Side, to a phenomenal neighborhood downtown this year—Greenwich Village. I wake up everyday feeling blessed.
Chasing your dreams takes a lot of courage. I was lucky enough to carve the path that I have in such a short amount of time. I’m in no rush to get to any given destination, and I’m enjoying every step of the way—both highs and lows. Don’t abandon your dreams when you see failures or lows. Nurture them and grow with them. Artists and designers—we don’t do it for the money, fame, recognition, or approval. We do it for the love of the craft, and that is what differentiates us from the rest. My advice for all you dream chasers? Stay open, continually educate yourself and refine your craft, and most importantly—stay humble.
When you woke up this morning and looked in the mirror, what did you think? Today, try not to compare yourself to strangers, celebrities, and friends. Don’t pick yourself apart. Instead pull yourself together. You are beautiful so don’t let yourself that that away from you.
I can’t wait to show you guys what I’ve been up to lately! The Dolly Pearl Occasions and Bridal for 2013 has worked me! I wanted to come up with a theme/concept for the collection this year to show you what inspired my work. After looking at the collection at a whole, and studying the sketches and process of the designs, it came it me. It was quite simple, but at the same time, there was a lot of meaning behind the simplicity. I named this collection ‘Heart’. I hope you read on if you’re interested in why.
I’ve been told by many people that I have what the Vietnamese would call “lucky numbers”. When you have lucky numbers, that means you have a lucky life. Its far too complicated to delve into, but its pretty self explanatory right? I won my first contest at the age of 9. It was an art contest for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, and it was a pastel drawing of a dog. I won $500 and my drawing was featured in the HLSR calendar for that year. My mom still has the drawing up in her bedroom. It’s pretty hideous, but I guess for a 9 year old, it wasn’t too bad. Since winning that contest, I have to say, I’ve been pretty darn lucky. There were numerous times in school (from elementary through college) where I would enter a contest, turning in work that I had started and completed the night before, and won. I’ve won a television, a handful of cash prizes, and 2 trips to New York City. Not to mention the fact that I live in NYC alone. That’s luck right there. I don’t ever enter contests thinking I will actually win, so when I do, it’s always a surprise.
How does this relate to my theme? Well, I don’t think winning is entirely based on luck. I think you have to have a lot of heart as well. When you put your heart into something, and you have passion and drive, good things tend to come. Some may have more heart than others, but at the end of the day, it’s all the same fire that lights us up and keeps us driven—and having drive and passion for life is SO important. Work for something you truly love. Do whatever it takes to achieve it. Be proud of your life, and if you aren’t, do something about it. You have the power to change it, and create your own luck. Prioritize and realize what is the most important to you. My life has not always been happy face emoticons and balloons. I’ve gone through really dark times in my life, but I always had heart, and that is what has gotten me to where I am today.
I often get asked whether I have a favorite design out of all my Dolly Pearl pieces, and the answer is YES, I absolutely do! The Dolly Pearl ‘Anastasia’ dress has been my favorite by far. There is something uniquely architectural about the detail on the ‘Anastasia’. The combination of the scale, shape, and design to me is fashion forward, ethereal, unexpected, and ultra-feminine. I can’t get enough of this dress, and I believe it will be a true Dolly Pearl classic for years to come. Every time an order is put in for this dress, it I get excited to see which color is ordered and how it will look when it’s completed. To me, every girl who loves and/or orders this dress must be a fashion risk taker who appreciates beauty in the extraordinary.
Available at www.dollypearl.com