My first memory with the fashion world was during my summer holidays, when I traveled from East Hampton to Southern California. My family and I would stay with my grandmother who had a women's clothing boutique in Laguna Beach. I found the atmosphere serene and sophisticated, with the beautiful clothing, wall-to-wall carpeting and women chatting and finding their style. I found their excitement in purchasing the perfect garment enthralling.
When I was eleven there was a fire at our country house. The house was a three-story wooden shingle structure built in the early 1900?s. My family was fortunate enough to be able to renovate after the fire, but as the top two floors were heavily damaged, there was a lot of debris. I used burnt pieces including wooden shingles, damaged table legs and burnt wood mixed with old bottles and shells and stones from the beacto make my first collages and abstract sculptures. One of my favorite creations was an African statue made from a wooden table leg for the body and face and a black painted brillo pad for the hair. With the creations, I opened my first stand on the side of the road called the ?Everything Shop?. Though the memories have since faded, the sales were definitely good!
After spending my first years between New York and California, we moved to Malaga, Spain. There, I completed my high school education in a rather unconventional English school. I had high hopes of going Parson?s School of Design in New York, but in the interim started a small production of bikinis. While learning to sew from an eccentric seamstress, named Emily, I would walk to the next village over to buy ribbons and cheesecloth in a haberdashery shop to make my first bikini designs. The bikinis had hand-braided straps and were full of color. At 18, my enthusiasm with design way surpassed my courage in selling. However, I was fortunate to have an older boyfriend who was savvier than I in the retail world. He assisted me in establishing and producing my first order, which consisted of 600 bikinis for Club Med. For me, being a young creator and entrepreneur at the time, this was my first real client. Though sewing 600 bikinis was daunting, I was able to hire several of my gypsy acquaintances to help me with the production.
Alas, Parson?s School of Design was never to be, as the same boyfriend that helped me find orders in Spain, invited me to join him in the Caribbean. There, we made necklaces from Venetian hand blown glass beads and sold th