Fear can be a powerful emotion, often holding us back from pursuing our dreams. 25 years working telephone repair, I found myself trapped in a job that no longer sparked joy, if it ever did. It was safe, secure and had benefits. It just wasn't enough.
I knew what my real passion was. I've known for a long time. I had started sketching shoes in high school in the 70's after I saw my first pair of platforms. It ignited a fire of creativity in me that never went away. Not thinking that design was a reachable goal, I went into repair work. I sketched shoes constantly on every scrap of paper, every envelope, napkin, and work order.
Making the decision to leave the safety of it all probably wouldn't have happened without the support and urging of many people but especially my husband. He saw all the shoe drawings all over the house and knew it was something I should pursue.
Polimoda Fashion Institute in Florence Italy is one of the top 10 fashion schools in the world. I submitted my sketches to their Masters in Footwear program and was accepted even though I had no background in design other than what I did on my own.
The first day of school was intimidating. This photo was me standing at the entrance looking nothing like a fashion student and being the oldest student they ever had.
I was surrounded by some of the most talented and creative individuals I had ever met. I walked into the main campus which is a villa in the center of Florence .
The hallways were filled with the most incredible student work. All I could think of was....What am I doing here? I felt I was way out of my league.
I knew that I needed to face this challenge and do the best I could. I worked tirelessly to catch up and push myself to excel.
As the days turned into weeks, I realized it was the best decision I had ever made. Polimoda was just not a place of learning; it was a haven of inspiration. I immersed myself in my studies and worked passionately at my craft. On the weekends , I embarked on adventures across Italy, soaking up the rich culture, art, and history that surrounded me.
Polimoda changed me. It taught me to retain that voice of mine that I spent years outside of fashion developing on my own. They taught me to embrace all my differences and work them into my designs.
I graduated at the top of my class and below was my lead shoe in my final collection.
This journey not only broadened my horizons but also transformed me in every way possible. It taught me it's never too late to chase your dreams, regardless of age or past experience. My story is a testament to the power of overcoming fear and embracing change. Florence and it's fashion school gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself, and I will forever be grateful for the courage it took to start this new chapter of my life.