Has this happened to you yet? You wake up one day, look in the mirror and don’t even recognize the person staring back at you?
Over the last couple of years I seemed to have lost myself. In retrospect, I can see there were several factors that contributed to my downward spiral. My mother had serious health issues. My relationship with my manfriend was seriously tested and almost ended. And after decades of pursuing my dream of being a successful actor, I got burnt out and stopped auditioning.
The one constant that I’ve had throughout my life is my love of fashion. Fashion has always been able to cure what ails me. When my first serious boyfriend broke up with me, my Dad bought me a Gucci purse to make me feel better. And of course, it did. My love for that purse (and my Dad for giving it to me) outlasted any feelings I had for some silly teenage boy.
I knew I wanted to get back into fashion at some level, so I worked part time in a couple of retail stores. I figured it would give me a chance to get out of the house, make some extra money and enjoy a hefty discount on my designer clothing. Plus, I’ve been wanting to write a book about my experiences in retail ever since my first job out of high school at Martin’s Department Store in Gadsden, Alabama.
Returning to retail turned out to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I was getting enough content and personal experiences to write several volumes of my book. However, on the other hand, I was turning into a very bad person. Working in retail made me hate people. Retail is a very tough job if you expect any measure of respect in the workplace. I observed people behaving in a way that made me want to ask 9 out of 10 customers on any given day, “What the hell is wrong with you?” All the beautiful Manolos and Zac Posen’s and Alaia’s I was adding to my wardrobe were not worth the fact that I absolutely hated what I was doing. The downward spiral continued.
Then one weekend, a New York minute happened, and everything changed. My niece Hannah and her boyfriend were visiting from Birmingham and I just had to take them to one of my favorite spots – The GreenFlea Market on Columbus Avenue. I was drawn to a table showcasing the most interesting key pendant necklaces. I struck up a conversation with the designer, Cynthia Germain, and she told me her story of finding these keys while visiting family in Niger, West Africa. Turns out, discovering these treasures was a key (pun intended) turning point in her life. She told me that she suddenly realized she was visiting a country where women didn’t have all the opportunities that she had in America and that it was time for her to take advantage of those opportunities and do what she loved. I was so inspired by this woman that I just had to own one of these necklaces.
I purchased the necklace and put it on immediately. For the rest of that day, I thought about what she had said. I, too, have every opportunity to do what I truly love. I want to write. I want to harness the power of fashion to make women feel good about themselves instead of bad.
I began to think of my Master Key necklace as my superpower necklace. It gave me the ability to take risks and step outside of society’s norms. I turned in my notice at my retail job. The next week I traveled down to Birmingham to spend a week with my Mom and help my sister take care of her. And I got back to writing Stylaphile. (Have you noticed it’s been a couple of months since I’ve written anything new?)
Now I’m starting to feel more like myself. I’m back to exercising regularly (hello Shaun T…I’ve missed you). I’m working on my retail book. And I’m writing this post about how a necklace brought me out of my downward spiral, much like that Gucci bag from my Dad.
So, thank you Cynthia for my Master Key necklace. Thank you Dad for that Gucci bag so many years ago. With the right accessories, a woman can conquer the world.
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