I recently applied to join the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and I thought that including my core values would be a window into who I am as a person and as a designer.I found it such an interesting (and revealing) exercise, so I wanted to share the results with you here on the blog. I came up with thirteen values and I will devote a post to each, so stay tuned! I hope you will follow along and enjoy these musings.
1.The Art of Liking Yourself
The first value for me was very clearly “Like Yourself” – this is one of those easy things to say, but very hard to actually do. In my case it has been a journey to both accept myself and actually like the person I am. But I can say now, after many years, that I do honestly like myself. It took me a long time because I did not feel I fit in when I was growing up in Paris. I am from Persian descent, so I was not the typical fair-skinned, blond hair, blue-eyed girl. It was actually only once I came to America that I was told how “beautiful” I was for the first time. Americans are amazing at making you feel like the best version of your self. It is truly something that I love about the culture here. My work as a designer is another place where I feel proud of myself. Trust me it took me a long time! It was not an easy journey, with many obstacles, many rejections, and many doubts. But only recently, through my direct interactions with my patrons, was I able to realize that my unique point of view is a worthy one. It is clear to me that this is directly because I like myself and I trust myself. I know, firsthand, that a person can be much more impactful once they are in that zone. With time, I have learned to accept my shortcomings and work on them…everyday, but I also embrace my qualities and rely on them to bring joy to others. I believe that because of where I am today, my work has come full circle. Maya Angelou wisely said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” AMEN!
2. Dream a Big Dream
As a mother, something I have tried to instill in my children is the to dare to dream and to dream big. It is a personal mantra of my own and something I truly believe in. And if you truly believe in something you will fight for it. Are you a dreamer? A fighter? The truth is that a person who “dreams big” is actually just an ordinary person. What makes them extraordinary is how they muster the courage, harness the passion, and find the discipline to make their dreams come true. The power to achieve these big dreams is within all of us. We just have to tap into what is in our hearts. As children, we are more in touch with our dreams. We can imagine an endless world of possibilities for ourselves. We easily imagine ourselves as an astronaut, an artist or even the leader of the free world. It is only as time goes by and we face disappointment and criticism that our fears, doubts, and anxieties can get the best of us. This is the threat to all our big dreams. The first time anyone asked me if I was a jewelry designer, I immediately answered “yes” even though it wasn’t necessarily true at the time. The only pieces of jewelry I had actually designed, at that point, were pieces for myself. I can now see I was naive at the time as to just what it would take to be a true designer, but I had that big dream and I was willing to dare to believe I could do it. I had no idea, of course, the work ahead of me — which just might have been a good thing at the time — but I had belief. I also have a stubborn streak and when someone tells me I can’t do something, it actually motivates me all the more. When I truly believe in something, I don’t let anything get in my way. My approach to achieving my big dreams has been to simply explore every avenue until I find a way to make it come true. And there is no better feeling then when you achieve something that others didn’t think was possible. Like applying to the CFDA
…I was told how fiercely competitive, how selective, and difficult of a process it is. That artists and designers spend months working on a portfolio that need to be absolutely outstanding… I have always had a recurrent dream: being at an exam, knowing the answer, but always procrastinating, and ultimately too late to finish…and fail. Or, never feeling adequately smart or creative, and walking out of the Ecole Boulle exam…this was actually not a dream, it really happened. This was the past…with my new outlook, there is nothing that could stop me from dreaming…So I recently applied…and after 4 months of suspense, waiting with trepidation for some news, I just got the membership letter…We clinched it! They liked me…a lot! They unanimously voted to welcome me! Yes, I will still face failure. But I can’t let it stop me. I will still find myself outside of my comfort zone but now I have learned to embrace it, because I know that this is when I actually grow and learn the most important lessons of my life. And in those moments when I have succeeded at something that I wasn’t sure I could, that is when I know there is nothing
I can’t do!
3. Live now, NOW!
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently on what it truly means to live in the moment. We know that life is happening in the now and yet we so often lose the potential of the moment. It is all too easy to allow the present to slip away while we worry about the future and dwell on the past. We often spend so much time thinking about what’s next that we forget to embrace the moment. I believe the ability to live in the now and finding happiness are directly linked. Genuinely happy people seem to have mastered the art of living in the moment. They are able to be fully present and enjoy the journey, rather than just worrying about the destination. What does it mean to live fully in the present? It means that you choose to be completely focused on the here and now. When you live in the present, you are living where life is happening. So how does one live in the now? I think there are a few key things to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to spend a few moments every day to reflect on what you are grateful for in your life. When you are focusing on what you are grateful for, you go push out the negative and allow positivity in. For me, this exercise always begins with my family, from the selfless love of my mother, the abiding devotion of my husband to the abundant joy that my children bring to my life. I think that being in the now also requires limiting the distractions you allow into your life. Our days so filled with them that we don’t always focus on the things right in front of us. Did you know that the average person checks their phone over 160 times each day? We live in an unprecedented age of information access and we actually could spend every moment trying to keep up with what’s happening in the news, social media, and responding to text messages and emails. How often do you see a group of people together at dinner, all checking their phones? How many people do you see walking on the street with their phone on hand, head down? Sad, isn’t it? And we’ve all been guilty of trying so hard to get that perfect photo to post, that we sometimes forget just to be in the now and experience the moment. The goal, of course, is to find a way to limit the distractions and quiet all the noise that’s out there, pulling you away from the here and now. Be present in your life. Give the people you are with your full attention. Look at them, deep in their eyes. Listen to them, don't look around. One of the nicest things you could do for someone is to just be in the moment with them and make them feel that they are the only one in the room. Lastly, I think that you need to find the beauty in something each day. It can be anything. It truly doesn’t matter if it is something in nature, a piece of artwork, a building or another person. I am inspired so many times a day by so many unexpected things. One of the most powerful moments of inspiration I have had with my jewelry designs came from a simple doodle from one of my daughters, while we were sitting at the kitchen table, conversing. Perhaps no one in the world would have seen the beauty in it that I did, but it has given me so much inspiration and led to some of my most iconic designs. It truly comes down to those moments when we find beauty in our own lives that lead us to living a happier and more present life. It is a discipline to be mindful and powerfully pursue the notion of living in the now, but it is totally worth it. Try it, for an hour, and then few more, a day at a time, and your life will be enriched.
4. Inspiration is contagious, spread it.
Has anyone ever inspired you in a way that led you to become a healthier, happier, or more fulfilled person? If you have, then you understand the difference that positive inspiration can make in someone’s life. Inspiration is truly a powerful thing, but it isn’t easy to inspire others. They say that enthusiasm is contagious. Of course, the term "contagious" doesn’t have a very positive connotation today. It is often used to describe the spread of something that can be a threat to us. And that is not always in the form of a health crisis — just look at the current dialogue playing out across the political landscape. What I am talking about is how emotions and behaviors can be infectious between people. My attitude, whether it is positive or negative, can be highly contagious. I can infect others when I am negative, discouraged, overwhelmed, stressed, complaining or grumbling. That’s why they say it is contagious. Culturally, we are dealing with so many tragic events and difficult realities. And we are all searching for the good and the positive influences in the world to inspire us. Yes, negativity can have a powerful impact on us, but positive emotions and inspiration have the power to spread beyond imagining. People want to be inspired and find something positive in an increasingly pessimistic world. It can be as simple as a smile, a handshake, a hug, or a kind word. Positive emotions drive related behaviors that inspire others to mimic them when observed. That’s contagious. Your talents and creativity give you a powerful influence to spread joy, love, or inspiration. Show your passion, energy and creativity every day and I’m willing to wager your positive energy will be returned to you ten-fold. Let’s be inspired and share it.
5. Stand Up For Yourself
I like to say “Stand up for yourself and don't take any shit!” Of course it’s easier to say than to do…and I like to talk big. But truthfully, the best way to manifest this kind of energy in your life is to treat yourself with the respect you want from everyone else. If you view yourself as a victim, then others will view you that way as well. Let’s be honest, we all have times when we feel disrespected by others, put down, rejected or even walked all over. People can be insensitive and boundaries are tricky. A lot of us take it rather than standing up for ourselves, because we are afraid of the confrontation or rejection that might result if we do. But when we do not address it, we simply consent to feeling hurt, frustrated, resentful or undervalued. And when we tolerate being treated in these ways, we tell people that it is okay to treat us like this. We get what we tolerate. That’s why I say don’t take any shit from anyone. Your values are everything. They are your foundation through your life. Those beliefs will govern your actions and create your character. When you treat others with respect, you deserve the same in return. And when they do not give it to you, then you need to let them know. You are the most powerful force in your life and if you are not, then it’s time to change your perspective. You tell the world how to treat you — and the world will respond accordingly.
6. Believe, passionately…
Passion is defined as a powerful emotion, such as anger or joy: a spirit governed by intense passions and boundless enthusiasm. Being passionate is defined by showing or expressing strong emotion arising from or marked by passion. And belief is the mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in something or someone or as something believed or accepted as true. My life is defined by my passions. I embrace everything with a voracious energy and let my emotions lead the way. I believe passionately in living life to the fullest, in family, in love, in laughter and in doing everything I can do to make a difference in the lives of others. Philanthropy has always been an important part of my journey. Through my work as a designer, I have used my influence and my collection to raise awareness and much needed funds for a variety of worthy causes that are close to my heart including breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, juvenile diabetes, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy. This is my third year fundraising for the Dubin Breast Center, a place that gently helped my daughter to heal from the trauma of breast cancer. In the past, I have been fortunate to harness the support of my friends and clients alike to raise some much-needed funds for this organization and again I am reaching out to you for your support. As we celebrate the blessings in our own lives, let's pass those blessings on to those who are daily affected by pain and suffering and give them some modicum of peace. Join me in believing passionately that we can make a difference.