My 1st Fashion Show: Highlights and Takeaways
My First Fashion Show: Highlights and Takeaways
“Ten years ago, five years ago, even one year ago, I never imagined that I would be standing before you today…”
That was my opening sentence when I took the stage earlier this month at the National Women’s Show in Ottawa. As I sat down to remanence on the highlights of the weekend and how I wanted to start this blog, the same words came to mind.
Ten years ago, five years ago, even one year ago, I never imagined that I would be blogging about emceeing on a runway to introduce my business, Bohemian Beach Boutique, to my community.
Some might think that it’s not a ‘huge deal’ because I simply designed and hosted a 30-minute fashion show, but for me, it was an INCREDIBLY HUGE DEAL; I designed and hosted a 30-minute fashion show!! As if!
First, I don’t think I’ve stepped foot on a stage since I played Sally in a Charlie Brown play circa 1999; Yes, my grade 8 homeroom play. Second, and more importantly, the National Women’s Show was my first opportunity to publicly present myself as a professional business woman, founder and fashion expert. Talk about #alleyesonme and #nopressure!
At the time that I was given the opportunity to design this fashion show, I was absolutely clueless. I had no inkling of what a fashion show entailed, but I knew that I was going to create the best damn fashion show that I could muster. One thing I knew for certain was that my fashion show would portray diversity among women. I wanted to showcase beauty as existing in a multitude of colours, shapes, sizes and abilities. I wanted every female in the audience to envision herself on stage.
For those of you who do not know my story, I founded Bohemian Beach Boutique to advocate for women with Boho fashion and swimwear that evokes confidence. After years of being plus sized and somehow unable to find confidence in my body, Bohemian Beach Boutique became my opportunity to take back the years I merely survived without having confidence. I now aim to prove that fashion can be blind to prejudice and that summer is meant for every body. I know I am not the first fashion business to endeavor on a body positive mission, with many large brands such as Knix, Torrid, Addition Elle and Penningtons leading the way. Aerie has even designed strong body positive campaigns to improve self-esteem among young women. Unfortunately, the small strides which have been made to date, have yet to lead to impactful change. It is my belief that size acceptance will not transcend trending/sale boosting campaigns until more of the industry permanently backs the mission.
That said, however, I’m incredibly happy to see that there are more diverse women than ever before succeeding in the industry as curvaceous models and influencers. This is a very beautiful thing! If you would like to see some of the top plus size models currently challenging the industry, check out a recent article here, published on msn.com earlier this month.
Back to the Fashion Show
As previously mentioned, I had no idea what a fashion show entailed, but I know that I’m the woman who loves a good challenge and the opportunity, as uncomfortable as it may be, to grow outside of my comfort zone. I knew that in order for me to blossom as both an individual and fashion business owner, that I needed to take this step. Sure, I took on my share of stress, trials and feelings of overwhelm but those are what I like to call learning opportunities. Many successful people are often asked how they achieved success. Did you know that one of the top answers is having gone outside of their comfort zones and got comfortable with being uncomfortable? If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing!
The learning opportunities I encountered from this experience resonate with me as deeply as the memories, insights and blessings from working with such a diverse and incredible group of women. After seeking women to model on a volunteer basis, I wound up with a dozen of the most dedicated, kind-hearted, honest and professional women imaginable, and the support and knowledge I gained from them was immeasurable.
When I stepped on stage for the first-time during rehearsal, I completely froze. Yupp, I went into shock, my entire body frozen like the Great Lakes during a Northern winter. I froze so bad that I couldn’t even remember my own mission statement or read it from the written piece of paper in my hand. I hung my head and tried not to cry as I stared down into the black abyss that was the runway, comparing it to the blank abyss that was my mind. There was nothing. In hindsight, I think this was the moment that all of the overwhelm from coordination, organization and preparation took its toll.
I actually threw my hands in the air and said “I can’t do this”. While on the verge of tears, one of the models emerged from back stage and told me no negative talk. She gave me a neck massage while reminding me that I was strong and that I was NOT ALONE! The pep-talk was brief but incredibly impactful. Thank you, Mary Elin! XO The reminder that there were a group of women present and ready to support me, and each other, was like a battle cry, encouraging me to defeat the negative mind. With that, we continued to rehearse until we got the boot for closing!
I came home that night and continuously ran my script. I woke up in the middle of the night and ran my script. The next morning and early afternoon, I ran my script. The moment we took the stage, my stomach was churning like butter then…BOOM…it was go time! I looked out into the crowd, inhaled and exhaled a yoga breath and let the words “ten years ago…” roll off my lips. With every word uttered, I eased more and more into the moment until, the next thing I knew, the entire show was finished. I went backstage and cheered with my ladies! I felt SO proud of myself and all of the women by whom I was surrounded. WE did it…together! And we had fun. Fashion does not have to pretentious.
As we went about our second show on Sunday, my mind and body were both more at ease and I even worked up the courage to walk the runway with Melanie, as we showcased the Sequin Sleeve Sweater Dress together. I could not have done this without her extended hand, or her mom’s proud smile and thumbs up, so thank you both!! Xo
As with any new experience, it is about practice and follow through. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become with it and the more likely you are to succeed at it.
When I founded Bohemian Beach Boutique, I developed the slogan beautiful+UNCONVENTIONAL because I believe that every woman has the right to live every day unapologetically care-free as herself. As I mentioned earlier, my intent with the fashion show was for every woman observer to envision herself on the runway. The fashion show concluded with all of the models and backstage support standing on stage in my exclusive beautiful+UNCONVENTIONAL collection, solidifying that all women are beautiful. At the end of the day, we are all our own unique persons and acceptance is what brings us together as beings.
Throughout the weekend of the fashion show, many relationships were formed. I gained friends, clients and courage within myself, and I helped other women to find and embrace courage within themselves; Some of the women who modeled for me had, like me, never before been on a runway. I will be forever grateful for this experience and these women!
On April 8th, I awoke a bundle of nerves and desired for the weekend to be over. On April 10th, after the adrenaline subsided, I went to bed fueled with courage and female empowerment. That is what happens when you go outside of your comfort zone and accept a new challenge. If that is the blessed feeling of pride, confidence, success, self-worth, growth, relief and accomplishment, then count me in for more challenges ahead!
What Does Lie Ahead?
I look to the future with earnest hope and anticipation of what lies ahead for Bohemian Beach Boutique. Being on stage was confirmation that I am on the right path pursuing entrepreneurship in this industry. I am thrilled to announce that I am, officially, in the starting stages of designing my own curvaceous swimwear line, which I am eager to share with you next year!! I have every intention of stepping onto a runway again with more of my own designs. Now that I have gotten my toes wet, I am also playing with the idea of planning my own women’s conference to continue empowering and motivating the deserving woman within you, and to spread the beautiful+UNCONVENTIONAL mission. What I experienced this month was only a taste of the potential before me.
My hope for you, dear tribal reader, is that you let go of your fears and doubts and go outside of your comfort zone. If you have a dream, a wish, a hope or a vision for YOURSELF, take the steps to blossom into the happiest and most successful version of yourself; You deserve it and you are worthy of it. Whether you fly or fail, it doesn’t matter. Every failure along your journey is as important as every flight and will propel you, even if in the moment it does not seem so. I will be fully transparent and confess that the night before rehearsal, I told myself that the worst case scenario would be a bad as could be imagined runway show. BUT, the bad runway show, albeit embarrassing, would become the comical story I shared in the future, when asked about my success and how I started. I was prepared to fail and fly another way. Have faith and take on challenges with conviction. Facing every new and scary experience results in victory!
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