Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Last week I wrote about Grace’s internship and how proud I was that she secured this position solely on her own efforts.    Yes, I am proud of Grace for having the perseverance to go outside her comfort zone and ask for something knowing that rejections was certainly a possibility.  To be fair, I have no issue with asking for help to educate my children and give them opportunities to develop their interests and talents.

In Lilah’s case, I have not been able to find a local opportunity for her to establish a mentorship relationship for baking but I knew I could create an opportunity for her and her friend to learn more about the design process that could possibly help them with their budding interest and talent in garment design and fabrication.

At one point I worked in the retail industry.  I took a position in the licensing department at London Fog.  At the time, my mother and my husband Greg were coworkers in the planning department.  Every day I would ride up the elevator with them both.  Greg and I were dating other people and we knew each other, but were no more than casual acquaintances.  Who knew back then that this was the man I would marry?  I did not at first.  But I can tell you with certainty the day I knew he was the one.  He knows the day well too.  But that is a story for another day.

My Mom and my husband are still in the retail industry in New York.  When I passed the picture of the dress that Lilah and her friend made this week on to her, she showed it to the fabric designers.  They offered to have the two girls come into the office for a tour and some mentoring.  

Coordinating this trip was no easy task.  Two ten year olds, 24 hours notice, 2 siblings, a train ride, a subway or taxi ride, plus a sleep over was all factored into making this happen.  We boarded a 7:47am train and the girls and I headed over the Brooklyn Bridge and Grace and my friend and her 8 year old daughter headed into midtown for an adventure of their own.  (this story will be told later, from Grace’s point of view, I hope!)

Did you know one patch of the old dirty ceiling in Grand Central was left on purpose to illustrate how much work was done in the restoration process?  Fascinating!

The girls toured every department of the company from catalog photography, to eCommerce, to finance, to textile design, merchandising, planning and allocation and facilities management.   

Admiring photographs of their designs.

  • They were given the advice to sketch their designs and put them in a portfolio with a picture of the finished dress and a swatch of fabric.

  • They met people who had worked in fashion previously and were shown a garment designed by the wearer, who pointed out the design of the ribbon, the construction of the piece, the fabric choice and accessory details.
  • They helped “paint” by computer a sample piece of fabric and printed off the design as a 2’x2’ paper swatch.
  • They learned how the design team makes buying trips just to pick up odds and ends that inspire them.  They are housed in a beautiful room that can’t help but inspire peace and tranquility.  
  • They learned that the catalog is sent out in three batches per season and location shoots are great fun!
  • They also learned that many people go into the process of designing, creating and selling the products that we have in our home.  For example, our duvet cover and rugs came from this company.  They began with a painting originating in one person’s imagination.  That painting is scanned into the computer and blown up.  That image is then sent to a textile company where it is printed.  That fabric is then sent to the factory where the product is made and then on to the warehouse where it is held until the store requests it.  Ultimately it is purchased and hopefully loved by its owners.  
Lilah has grown up visiting this company and the company her father works for.  The corporate environment is not new to her, but understanding the different jobs and how they all interrelate is.  Her friend had never been in this type of setting, and she was not so sure it was for her. 

I have to agree.  As much as I felt a bit of a pull towards the creative energy that was present in this office, I would not to go back to an environment where my success or failure was directly correlated to someone else’s performance.  It made me question whether our children’s experience with homeschooling will affect their decisions for how they make their livelihood.  Will they be less likely to conform to corporate structures, confined to an office or cubicle, told what hours to work and when the can take off?  Will they reject business casual, office politics and water cooler gossip in favor of a job they can do anywhere at any time?  Will their commute be to their laptop which can be set up on a couch by the fire or on a beach?  Will they create their own business, follow their own intuition, and part of a small carefully chosen team, rather than a huge conglomerate?  I really wonder.

I think that Lilah has designs on developing her baking skills with the dreams of becoming a teen caterer and a young bakery owner.  I think she envisions a gallery like bakery where a party can be created from the ground up by ordering the cake and purchasing table linens, invitations, and a cupcake to enjoy with a cup of coffee while you decide!  

Grace and I had an interesting conversation last week about her interest in weather and other things she could do with it besides be a forecaster.  She could use her interest and her natural desire to plan and order and prepare to create her own foundation or non-profit that assists communities in awareness of potential severe weather but also assist the community in the aftermath.  We discussed how many people have ideas but few actually pursue them.  As she learns and grows and thinks of ideas, I expect that this experience of being home, of being free from many of the confines that structure our learning and limit our abilities to dream, will encourage her to not only dream but to do.  

Each experience like Lilah’s day in Brooklyn and Grace’s time at the university are layers in their educational experience.   Each new opportunity to meet someone, learn something, understand a concept, try something new, will help them to reach their goals.  The road is not always paved, but the journey sure is interesting!

*Unfortunately I could not take many pictures of our day.  Most of what the girls did pertained to current and upcoming seasons which must be protected.  The girls were welcomed back for follow up "lessons" and were advised to take another field trip into the garment section of Manhattan to visit stores that sell only ribbon, fabric, trimmings.  How fun!  I have a few recommendations and we are looking forward to organizing that trip!


Karen said...

I can not began to fathom having access to New York City. It would be amazing. What an experience for Lilah and her friend. I love what you said about each experience is a layer in their education. EXACTLY!

Jessica said...

I would love to take Kei to Broadway. I have a feeling you will be in NYC someday for her......

Frogcreek said...

What an awesome day! That is what it is all about, getting out there, straight into their interests, with real people sharing what they do. Love it!

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