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As most of you know, I was the fashion editor and stylist of a Bergen County magazine for 13 years. In that time I created countless pages filled with fabulous fashions and images that were beyond beautiful to look at. I featured local boutiques all over the county, as well as the biggest department stores, and fashion giants that are household names. One of those fashion giants was Kate Spade.

I very regularly featured Kate Spade's whimsical creations on those very pages. Colorful handbags, flouncy dresses, statement jewelry, sparkly heels, fun phone cases, and everything in between. Her designs were recognizable and stylish, but most importantly, happy. They put a smile on my face and added depth and liveliness to every page they graced.

To learn of her tragic death today, was of course very sad. A major loss to the fashion industry, to everyone who felt the same happiness when they wore her designs or flipped through her coffee table books (many sit on mine), and most importantly, unimaginable to think of her 13 year old daughter and family that clearly are most effected, and now left behind. This really made me pause and reflect on my feelings toward the industry and "fashion" in general.

To me, fashion should be fun, attainable, yet sometimes aspirational. It should evoke a feeling, or several feelings. It isn't serious. No one is curing cancer by wearing beautiful clothing. I say that for a very specific reason. This is NOT to put the fashion industry down. I've been involved in that very same industry for over a decade, and still am, and many many moons ago worked retail when Hollister first opened their doors in Paramus Park Mall (did I really just date myself that much)? 

Over the years, I have noticed that some people can be very affected and serious when it comes to fashion, especially during NYFW. These are the people who attend shows in an attempt to gain status or to simply be seen. On the other hand, I attend shows to view the designs that fashion houses have worked so hard on. I consider this a privilege. I tip my proverbial hat to these designers, like Kate Spade, who have spent countless hours with their team creating these pieces for us to enjoy. 

I have loved fashion ever since I was a little girl and walked around in my mother's heels, proudly donning my "eargings" aka earrings that I creatively made from the plastic charms from my charm necklace, posing for pics (hand on hip) and all that jazz. I have been a girly girl my entire life. No Tom boy here. Big bows, matching top and skirt outfits, white lace tights and fancy jellies were my signature attire in elementary school. I lived for back to school shopping with my sister, mom and grandmother, especially at Kids "R" Us (so exciting)!

In high school, I was asked if I threw my clothing in the garbage after wearing it because no one saw me repeat an outfit. In college I finally gave into leggings. Ahh Hardtails...they were my attire, but ONLY for class. Otherwise, I was always dressed up in stylish ensembles. At 21, I landed my dream job that I proudly developed right out of college, and was the leading voice behind what Bergen County men, women and children should be wearing. I took 21 years of my love of dressing, mixed with my degree in journalism and passion for writing, and made it my life. 

I have always known that fashion should be flattering and make you feel confident and special. I have always encouraged readers to have their own unique sense of style and I will always feel the same way.

I am now 35 years old. I still love fashion, post #ootd images on social media, and swoon over the newest collections. But most importantly, helping people, hearing people and continuing to connect with people is above all else, what sets my soul on fire. I love showcasing fashion in a way that is attainable, attractive and thought provoking. I want people to be able to learn from my experience and tips and proudly form their own personal style.

As a proud business owner, owning (quite literally) the next chapter of my career, I launched this site in February after a lot of hard work and countless hours. And I did so quietly and behind-the-scenes. Print was my medium for so long, that the internet was something I had to teach myself how to master. Yes, I blogged several years ago and hosted weekly video shows when bloggers and Youtube really hit the scene. (I could've been a Youtube star by now if I kept going)! But I made a choice to step out of my immediate comfort zone, not for lack of opportunities (there were plenty), but for the simple fact that launching my own site was the natural next step for me. An extension of myself and everything I've worked for. A new challenge that I wanted to conquer. My goal for my site to not only represent me, but the contributors who spend their time sharing content and creative thoughts with you. This is the place to highlight the professionals and personalities that work hard to make their businesses thrive.  But most importantly, I want to be real. Real with my outfits. Real with my thoughts. Real with my feelings.

And real life gets tainted by the perception of "perfection" that we see on the internet through edited, filtered pictures, where everyone is an “expert, model, influencer” etc. This is all smoke and mirrors in most cases. Some people are more concerned with “likes” and “followers” than real relationships. I understand the pressures of having a social media presence and “status,” as it’s the world that I have to be very mindful of these days. And it’s easy to feel discouraged and lost in this gigantic internet sphere, but please, don’t.

I challenge you to put down the phone for an allotted amount of time per day. I am challenging myself to do the same. Only look at websites, IG and FB accounts that truly speak to you and inspire you. Delete and unfollow those that make you feel any other way. Stop comparing yourself to filters, lighting, angles and self given titles. I am not saying anything is wrong with those people or their accounts, but if it evokes a negative feeling or comparison, delete them.

Live. Right now. In this very moment. And know that YOU are beautiful, and YOU are enough. Go outside. Reflect on what and who is truly important in your life. Have conversations. Call a friend. Laugh. Take a fashion risk. Smile. Just be. Pause.

Obviously no one truly knows all the details yet regarding Kate Spade's passing, but sometimes it’s easy for us to think that someone else might “have it all.”

Be it a successful business, a household name, a picture perfect relationship...

You can paint any picture you want people to see, and tell any story you want people to hear on social media. Isn't that a blessing and a curse all at the same time?

Reflecting back on my fashion career is easy, happy and makes me smile. I have enjoyed Kate Spade's collections year and after, am blessed to have had access to showcase them before they hit stores and will always wear my pieces with pride. Kate Spade, you are a fashion icon.

Please share any uplifting and encouraging phrases, quotes or words that empower you - words that can speak to someone else who just might need to hear or read them. 

“In a world where everyone so desperately tries to fit in, I can only hope to stand out.”— this is my favorite quote that I have always tried to live by. Just remember, there is only ONE of YOU - and that is really special. 

xo Heather

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