This memory, this moment, this interview changed the trajectory of my journalism career and will always be a reminder that being humble and relatable no matter who you are, (or think you are) goes such a long way!
I am forever grateful to this legend right here, Mr. Tim Gunn, for the opportunity, the relatability, and the compliments on my necklace and my grandmother’s vintage dress. :)
I will never forget the night before THE INTERVIEW. I received a call as I was walking out of the NJMG office (at that time working there was a dream come true). "Tim Gunn will be at Westfield Garden State Plaza tomorrow. Would you like to interview him on camera?" Without hesitation I said “YES!”
For those of you who don't know, I went to school for journalism and ALWAYS loved fashion. So I knew that fashion and writing had to go hand in hand for me to fully be living up to both my passions. And when I say I always loved fashion, I mean always in ALL WAYS. From the moment I can remember, as a little girl, playing dress up in my mom's heels, posing for pics (with my hands on hips) and donning "ear-gings" aka earrings, and a plethora of plastic charms dangling off my charm necklace (you know the ones I'm talking about if you are an 80's baby)! There was never an ounce of tom-boy in me. I used to draw for hours, sketching figures in dresses, pant suits, skirts and tops, similar to the ones I wore as a little girl.
And as I got older, I always loved standing out when it came to fashion. From my silver low-top Doc Martin's (when everyone else had black high-tops), to baby blue heels (that my Spanish teacher asked if she could wear during class), to changing up looks on a daily basis matching all of the popular 90s genres. A fellow classmate once asked me in all seriousness if I threw my clothing away after wearing it. "I'm going to start going through your garbage, because I've never seen you wear the same thing twice." That was in 8th grade. To say that I have always had a passion for fashion is probably an understatement.
Fast forward to the end of high school. I was ready to graduate, ready for college, ready for a change. I was always ready for the next thing, usually before my classmates were. I was just "over-it" sooner I guess. Same thing happened in college. I was ready for my career to begin. THOSE were the best days for me. Of course the fun high school and college memories will always be special, but creating my career, growing as a person, and forging my own way in the fashion and journalism industries...now THOSE were the days!
I graduated college with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. However, I never took a broadcast journalism class because I adamantly refused the idea of being on camera (in my mind). It was a non-negotiable for me. No thank you. I didn't even want to hear my own voice on an answering machine, let alone see myself interviewing someone on camera. Yikes!
So why did I answer "YES" enthusiastically the invitation to interview Tim Gunn? And I answered without thought, and (time to self-doubt)? Because of that exact reason probably. I didn’t think. I let my natural response fly right out of my mouth, which was possibly embedded in my subconscious mind all along. An answer that clearly was so instinctual in that very moment that worry didn’t have any hope…at least until that call ended.
Once I gathered my thoughts and realized what I actually committed to, I reached out to THE most seasoned news anchor and American journalist that I had grown very fond of…Ms. Lori Stokes. She took my call and eased my mind, giving me advice that I will NEVER forget. As an aside, isn't it wild how you can remember exactly where you were at certain moments in time? Or a smell, or a sound that sparks your memory so vividly you would think you just experienced it?! I always digress...(that's the creative writer in me speaking!)
Lori's advice, her words of wisdom, although very simple and diplomatic, were very real, relatable, and honest. I took these words with me to navigate my interview with Tim Gunn the next day, as well as throughout my career. I will never forget the time she took of her very busy schedule to take my call and put my mind at ease. Thank you Lori!
The next day ...
I put on my grandmother’s navy dress (for good luck, and style, but mostly good luck), drove myself to Westfield Garden State Plaza, took a deep breath, and walked backstage to the makeshift interview area for the biggest moment of my relatively young career (at that point).
My sister Jen Zwain Liming (who worked for Liz Claiborne at the time where Tim was the Chief Creative Officer), told me something before I walked in that shifted my perspective immediately. "Tim Gunn has a fear of public speaking." Whattttt?!
I introduced myself to Tim, sat down, and noticed his hands were shaking. From worry and a touch of anxiety and uncertainty, to a big gulp of confidence and an aha moment, that this super accomplished gentleman, Chief Creative Officer, author, actor, tv personality, former chair of Parsons School of Design, and co-host of Project Runway, (with Heidi Klum), was sitting talking, (hands shaking), to ME! Let me repeat. Tim Gunn's hands were shaking, as if he was nervous, (pretty much how I was feeling). R E L A T A B L E. I knew in that moment that we both had to "MAKE IT WORK." (For those of you who don't know, that is one of his famous catch phrases).
Immediately, from his compliments on my outfit, to our relaxed chats about fashion, and Paramus, NJ being the biggest retail zip code in the US, Tim was an absolute delight. Thank God!!!
His super familiar voice eased all of my worries, his unaffected nature, and genuinely warm spirit made him unforgettable to me.
So why now? Why share this very fond memory I have and hold so dear to my heart? Because Facebook reminded me that this memory took place 12 years ago and showed me the pic above today. I wish I could find the interview to re-watch and possibly post, but for now, this one picture will have to do.
This memory not only reminded me of such a wonderful snapshot in my life, but the jumping off point and catalyst to a whole other avenue of my career. From the college girl who didn't want to be on camera to the young woman who interviewed countless athletes, celebrities, hosted live events and fashion shows. to the TV appearances on local and national shows, to hosting two of my own video shows, and even getting a TV manager and having a very well-known production company create a pilot about my life and job. I even interviewed AND introduced Stacy London from What Not to Wear to the stage, the year following the Tim Gunn interview, at the very same Style Tour event.