I was honored to be a part of Fashion Group International’s first Rising Star Dialogues panel: “Roadmap to Owning Your Own Business.” The panel, which took place yesterday, was moderated by public-relations powerhouse James LaForce. The other participants were designer Tia Cibani, formerly of Ports 1961, now head of her own line; Wes Gordon, one of Michelle Obama’s preferred designers; and handbag designer Michelle Vale.
FGI’s annual Rising Star Awards honor emerging designers. I won the Rising Star for fine jewelry in 2012.
All of the Rising Star winners I’ve spoken to say the same thing about the awards: It’s incredibly validating to be recognized by your peers for what you do. There’s so much rejection in the industry, so many people eager to tell you that your ideas are bad or ugly or unsaleable. You have to believe in yourself and keep moving forward anyway, and winning the Rising Star is like a message from the universe saying, “You’re not totally crazy! You’re doing the right thing!” So when FGI invited me to offer encouragement and advice to other designers and fashion-industry folks, I was happy to oblige. In fact, I was supposed to be taking off for Paris yesterday afternoon, but I switched to an 11 PM flight so that I could do the panel first and head to the airport from there.
That meant that yesterday was so crazy — struggling to get to FGI headquarters in midtown in the midst of a New York City monsoon, doing the panel and then changing clothes in the ladies’ room before rushing off to the airport — that I never got around to taking a proper head-to-toe outfit photo, much to my disappointment. I really wanted to get a new photo of that Prada top and skirt from 2011 (previously seen here). At least I got one selfie showing my Gloriana necklace design, which was inspired by Elizabeth I.
This photo was taken during our introduction.
Hopefully no photo will surface of the Cindy Brady moment I suffered during this event. Remember the Brady Bunch episode where Cindy is all cocky about going on a game show? Then, when the red light of the camera goes on, she freezes?
James, the moderator, asked me if my experiences as a business-news journalist impacted my view of my own business now. I talk about this subject all the time so I said “Definitely!” with a great deal of confidence. Then I paused. All those public-speaking stalling techniques — repeating the question, asking the moderator to repeat the question — went out of my mind as I wondered, “What do I say next?” My next thought was, “Oh my God, I’m like Cindy Brady.” That was followed by, “I can’t remember the question!” Finally I wondered, “What if I just run out of the room and don’t stop running until I run home or to the airport or all the way to Paris?” I decided that flight wasn’t an option and eventually answered the question at length. My front-row, one-woman cheering section (designing friend and Rising Star finalist Stacy Lomman) later swore it was just a pause of a few seconds. It seemed like a lot longer with my life flashing before my eyes!
Here are a few of the tweets from the event.
And a few more:
At the end of the evening, we had a laugh when FGI president Margaret Hayes told us panelists that when we go on to win our CFDA awards, our acceptance speeches should include a shout-out to FGI for giving us our first-ever nationally recognized awards. No need to remind me, Margaret! I will never forget what FGI has done for me … I may not be able to get the words out, but I won’t forget!