About 10 years ago, I went back to school for fashion design after working in public health in Washington, DC for the better part of my 20s. My life until that point had centered around work that I felt good about and liked but didn’t love. I had always wanted to become a fashion designer, and I was growing a little too comfortable with the known. I knew I needed to take a risk to get the career I really wanted before I settled for the safe life.
When work sent me to New York for a meeting, I took a moment after my responsibilities were done to visit the Fashion Institute of Technology. I immediately knew that I had to apply. Around the same time, there was an opportunity in my field to relocate to Sudan – a dangerous post for anyone, especially a single woman in the southern side of the country. If I took it, would have had a driver to and from work every day, would have had to live on a compound, and I would have made a substantial amount more money for taking the hardship post. As the interviews for the position progressed, I found out that I was accepted to FIT’s international Fashion Design program in Florence, Italy. After talking to a trusted advisor, I chose Italy.
Things moved fast. I rented my condo in DC. I sold all of my furniture and most of my belongings and packed the rest of my things in my car to drive home to see my folks before flying to Italy alone.
To say this is the best thing I have ever done is an understatement. The moment I started living my life aligned with my passions was the moment my world started to open up to the real possibility of living the life I had only dreamed of.
When I finished my year in Italy, I came back to New York City to finish my fashion degree. I felt it was important to be a student of my craft and give this new endeavor my full attention to see if I was going to be any good at it. I wasn’t the best in my class, but I was good enough to land an internship at Rebecca Taylor and later my first design job at American Eagle Outfitters. After that, I worked on the label, H by Halston for QVC and traveled to the QVC offices once a month to meet with our business partners.
I worked tireless hours in New York City. By this time, I had met my husband and moved to New Jersey. He met me as a fashion designer, not as someone who worked in public health. He found it endearing that I found something that I loved to do and work that didn’t really feel like work to me. And he was right. It still doesn’t feel like work. What a blessing!
Three years ago, when my husband and I relocated to Austin, TX for his job, I started my fashion label Nina Means to continue to do what I love. I wasn’t planning to start my own brand for another handful of years, but the move and the lack of fashion houses to work for in our new state helped me to choose to take the leap once again.
When you get to do what drives your passion, nothing really stands in your way. Even though I felt good about the work I was able to do in my previous career, my heart couldn’t shake the desire to see what would happen if I tried to pursue my dream. Personally, I couldn’t have lived with the regret of not trying.
If you’re like me and you feel a tug on your heart to make a leap of faith, go for it! You only live one life, make the best of it.
I’m super excited to be joining MommiNation as a contributing Mommi!
I’ll be sharing from time to time and I hope my stories inspire you to walk in your purpose.
Until next time,