– as told to The Silver Women
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
My Mother Thelma. She was a strong, wonderful woman. She worked hard all week, but the weekend was for family. She had an open house on Sundays, whoever showed up she would feed them with amazing food. We never had less than 12 people in our little apartment each week. She did it for love and to see people happy.
My beautiful mother was born in Ashland Virginia. At three years old she lost her mom to the flu. It was 1918. She was not expected to live herself, but she did. Her father then passed away when she was ten. She was raised by her grandmother who was American Indian. My mother experienced and survived a hard life. She loved people and taught her three daughters to love everyone, be humble, work hard and be the best you could be and mostly enjoy life. Alzheimer’s stole her away from us.
The other woman that inspired me was Zelda Wynn. I worked for her at the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She introduced me and some other inner-city teenagers to sewing couture garments. We made costumes for the dance company. Zelda took us to museums, Broadway shows, fashion shows and of course the ballet. She geared me to the fashion world. She was a fashion designer and lived and worked until her death at 104 years old. Amazing woman!
Most valuable lesson taught by your mother growing up?
Get an education. Be independent and respect yourself. Love and value family and friends.
Have you made career changes over the years?
I have worked for 31 years as a catalog fashion stylist. A business I have loved. I am a social person; I love meeting different types of people and styling has introduced me to some wonderful people over the years. I was able to go back to my College, Fashion Institute of Technology, to instruct Photography Majors on how to style and understand trends.
“I taught for five years, I hope like my Mother and
Ms. Wynn, I inspired the students.”
Let’s go through the decades!
20s: I grew up in Manhattan. New York was my playground; I had love from family, friends and the caring neighbors in my neighborhood of Washington Heights. After graduating from FIT, I started my career working in retail advertising. I met my husband at the first studio I worked at. I had my beautiful girl ♥
30s: My career was going full force. I enjoyed every job I did. I had the opportunity to meet so many people from all over the world.
40s: I was enjoying my life. I began working as an on-call stylist for just one company. I got complacent. I gave up all other jobs. If I could go back I would have mixed it up a little and worked with a few different clients.
50s: I had everything I wanted. A constant on-call job. Money to go on vacations. For my 50th Birthday, I had a big party not wanting gifts. I donated to Oprah’s Angel Network, to share my blessings with people who are less fortunate than me. By the end of my 50’s I lost my only client. The lesson … “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”
60s: I just turned 60. I will continue working. I especially want to spend more time with my family and close friends.
What are you most grateful for?
I am very grateful for the life I have been given. For the daughter, I have raised and who has become an amazing woman. For my parents, my sisters and the friends that have been around me for most of my life.A very good friend of mine said to me the other day.”Don’t be sad at what you’ve lost, rather be happy that you had it at all” Wise words. Thank you, James.♥
Thoughts on Aging?
Getting older is fine with me, I am still here! I accept my body and keep it moving so I don’t stiffen up LOL.
Your advice to young women of today?
Enjoy your life, travel and laugh a lot. Fall in love with yourself first so if you meet the wrong person or have the wrong job, you are strong enough to move on. As women, we worry about too much stuff. I need to follow this for myself also.
Take care of your health, only surround yourself with people who love you and treat you well. You want to be around people that make you laugh and surround you with love.
Images courtesy of Nefertiti unless credited otherwise.
FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS
I love fashion. My bookshelves are filled with mostly fashion & style-related books.
Lately, I have been reading up on the stories of Black Wall St (the race riots of 1921)
Song: If this world was mine– Luther Vandross
City/place in the world: My birthplace New York City.
Paris for the wonderful memories I have with my late friend Chris.
Flower: Red Roses.I love the color RED.
Blue Hydrangeas remind me of the ocean & beachside towns. I really love the ocean♥
Scent: Chinatown by Bond 9
Food or Cuisine: Southern food and Thai
Style Icon: Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Katherine Hepburn
I like Tomboy style with a classic elegant edge.
Artist: Edward Hopper and photographer Helmut Newton
Skincare product: Vaseline
Lipstick color: Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Suede 015