So there has to be some catalyst that makes one create a blog, right? Some sort of marker for where you are and how you got there, if you will. Well for me, I fell madly in love. Not with a man, but a woman. RELAX. This isn't that kind of blog. I'm referencing my career and one specific designer: Betsey Johnson. THE Betsey Johnson. The red lipstick wearing, champagne drinking, breast cancer surviving and cartwheel producing New York fashion designer. Iconic, eclectic, and the merge between Old New York and 30 plus years in the ever-changing fashion industry. Where punk meets girly in a love affair of frills and skulls. THE Betsey Johnson. You know, the one you convince your roommate and sorority sister (and now fellow blog contributor- I see you Karen Schnell) to do your senior merchandising window on. And honey we did not disappoint. Cheetah, check. Betsey shoes borrowed (maybe stolen) from another sorority sister, check. The loudest window in the hall (possibly ever), check. The week I graduated college I received the call that I'd be interviewing with the company and I hadn't but hung up the phone before I was screaming with excitement. Rookie Move. This particular detail my superiors still remember. That enthusiasm for the company never left me. Not once.
So naturally, three years later when you're offered your own store in a city in which you've never visited you just do it. No questions asked. Sure you're leaving the only state you've ever lived in. Sure you were in a good relationship at the time. Sure you had all the love and support from family and friends at your fingertips. There may have been more reasons to stay than go, but sometimes one reason is all the reason you need. I couldn't love that company or my store more. It wasn't possible. From the clients that became family, to New York Fashion Week, to the incredible people I worked with, there was just no topping it. So this is what your prime feels like? 25 and madly in love with my career. We started as a top 20 store and after one year we were a top ten store within the company. It was knowing you were working for someone historic and that you were making history all at the same time. Betsey was iconic in her vision, creative in her presentation and had a heart of gold. She was one bad bitch. Hell she ran around with Warhol in the 60's and was still ending every fashion show with a cartwheel and splits and she was a senior citizen. I'm not sure I can still do the splits. Note to self: verify that. If you were famous, we dressed you. If you were celebrating a life event, we dressed you. If you weren't a basic broad and you craved edgy, yet girly designs, we dressed you. We celebrated life with you. There were over 70 stores and roughly 350 of us "Pink Ladies and Gents." We were a cult. One I was happy to adhere my name to. So that's what made what comes next both a shock and devastation. History was made again April 26, 2012 when Betsey Johnson LLC files Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In plain English: a nightmare of hellish proportion. Liquidation would follow. Loss of every job and store would follow. Insensitive questions of "When is this dress going to be 70% off?" would follow. OH I'M SORRY LET ME VERIFY WHEN THAT WILL BE DISCOUNTED FURTHER AS I LOSE ALL THAT I LOVE AND HAVE WORKED FOR. Worrying about that staff that has become your family would follow. That tiny piece of pink heaven and everything it stood for would diminish.
One hour before the news went public all managers were put on a conference call in which Betsey got on the call and I'll never forget what she said in the moment when we were just told the fate of our company: "Fuck." There really was no better way to put it. We all knew what we'd be losing so why hide behind courtesies. She apologized for the fate of the company, not her mouth. Again, she's a bad bitch. She encouraged us to go get champagne and party with our clients and staff through the end. So we did. We celebrated what it had been, what it was and what it would always be: timeless. So that's what brought this Yankee to the South; her heart. What triggered a blog? It's everything that comes after the "Fuck." All the many moments after the fact that keep an impatient, sassy, fast-speaking Yankee in the South. These mouthy memoirs are nothing more than commentary after the "Fuck" wears off and you just have to pour yourself a glass of champagne and toast the outcome of what you never thought would be.