Part 1: The Beginning, Why Fashion?
I have the best parents and the best family. There's my mom and dad, and my two brothers Matt and Eric. Matt is the oldest and Eric is the youngest. I am the only girl so obviously the favorite. ;) Just kidding… kinda!
My Roots Are in Middletown
When I was born, we lived in Delaware City, DE and then moved to Middletown, DE when I was in the third grade. I had the best childhood growing up in Middletown and will always consider this place my home. It's where I played sports, went to school, made lifelong friends. It's now where my kids will grow up and do the same.
The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree...
People often ask how do I do it all? Run a business and be a mom? Well, it's because I grew up around hard workers. My mom and dad have always worked hard and have always given us everything we ever wanted or needed. They have been together since they were 12-years-old. And they're the greatest love story I have ever known, and the best parents we could have ever asked for.
Growing up, my brothers and I played sports and were always active in something. From racing dirt bikes to playing softball to me cheering, my parents were ALWAYS there for me and for my brothers. They worked hard but never missed a game or event.
If they both couldn’t be there, one always was. They are exactly who I want to be as parents. They gave us everything and still do. We were always put first and that’s exactly how I want my kids to feel. I can do it all because I don't know any other way. I was raised to be a go-getter and to work hard. Without them knowing, my parents also raised me to be the best mom I can be by setting the best example they could.
Mee Mee & Pop Pop on their 60th Wedding Anniversary
My Grandparents: The Greatest Love Story
As kids, we spent a lot of time at my grandparents (my mom's parents Buddy & Grace) or to us kids Mee Mee and Pop Pop.
Okay, so these two might be the greatest love story I know. They have been together for over 60 years, living in the same house since 1963. My mom was a year old when they moved into their house; it's where she grew up.
When I was younger we would always spend time with family. And we still spend most holidays at Mee Mee and Pop Pop's.
How I Learned to Sew
When I was little, my grandmother Mee Mee would sew a lot. She made a ton of curtains and did a lot of hand sewing. She was the one who started to teach me to sew.
In 2003, Mee Mee suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm. It was one of the scariest times in my life; we were so close to losing her. She spent a lot of time in the hospital, and my mom and Pop Pop never left her side.
We are so lucky to have her with us still today, she is the main reason why I began to sew. In 2006, a few years after her aneurysm, I decided to take a sewing class at Joann Fabrics. I wanted to continue to learn what my grandmother started teaching me. By the end of the class, I had made a bag and the women who taught the class offered to help me make my first dress. I told myself I would never buy another dress again, and throughout high school I made all of my homecoming and prom dresses.
Spinning a Passion Into a Business
I always had an interest in Fashion, and after the sewing class, I started making and selling t-shirts and bags. (See them on my Mama Monday Video.) I loved making things, and I loved the idea that I could make money selling the items I had made. At this point, I had a myspace (haha) where I would showcase my designs and try to sell my bags.
In 2007, I took an art class in Philadelphia. It was a few weeks long, and my mom would drive me up to each class and afterwards we would walk around finding fabric stores and art stores. I made a few fun things in this class and learned a little bit more about sketching. I started to sketch a lot. I sketched and made mood boards, and I had a giant binder filled with magazine sheets I would call my “inspiration binder.”
I designed several gowns for a Fashion Show in High School. I decided to use this for my senior project, and I ended up winning a small scholarship for my project and was featured in the local newspaper.
While these designs were not my best work, I had fun doing it. I loved picking out fabric and playing with color and prints. I truly believe throughout my high school years is when I began growing my “Nicole J following.”
Choosing a College
Through out this time I also started looking at college. (If you are in high school, I highly recommend doing this BEFORE your senior year!)
My family and I went up to NYC to visit the Fashion Institute of Technology and also went to Georgia to see the Savannah College of Art and Design. Georgia was beautiful, the college was amazing, they even offered me a scholarship to play lacrosse.
When I found out I didn’t get accepted to FIT, my school of choice, I was crushed. (More about this in Part 2.) I loved Georgia and SCAD, but I knew if I wanted to do something with fashion I HAD TO BE IN NYC. We started looking further into other NYC Colleges, and I found the Art Institute of NYC. I entered a design competition they had for high school students: Passion for Fashion (see below).
My entry was seen and I was eventually accepted. I attended the Art Institute of New York City and now have my Associates Degree in Fashion Design. I’m excited to share more of this part of my life next week for Mama Monday Part 2: College, Internships & Starting My Business!
Watch my Mama Monday Part 1 Video for more details about all of this!
If you enjoyed Part 1 of my story, please comment below. XOXO See you next week!