As a haute couture designer, I travel the world and meet dozens of women, many who have shared very intimate pieces of their lives with me, I am struck at how connected many of us are in overcoming major obstacles and trauma in our quest for our dreams.
These trials, if we do not let them crush us, can sharpen our intense appreciation for life and freedom, and give us such passion and drive, that life takes on a completely different hue, a strong, new intoxicating fragrance, and even a deeper spiritual meaning!
I am passionate about women and children emerging as caring, compassionate, yet powerful adults, who can leave an unforgettable mark on this world. I have devoted my life, not just to being a haute couture designer, but mostly to empowering others and sharing the passion for life, health and exuberant joy with all who cross my path....and I travel a lot!
My burning desire to become a haute couture designer, creating amazing couture was, in fact, a result of burning. Literally burning my flesh! When I was 6 years old, I climbed up on the stove to get the Alpha Bits cereal out of the upper cupboard for my little sisters and me. The pilot light caught my nightgown and I went up in flames! Panicking, I ran upstairs to my parents room, burning my body all the way. On the way to the emergency room, I noticed black ashes all over my legs, and I said, "Daddy, am I going to die?"
Six months in the hospital and 13 surgeries later, I had to re-learn to walk, as the wounds were so deep that I was bedridden.
Leaving me horribly scarred and disfigured on my lower body, those flames completely changed my life forever! No more normal, carefree childhood for me...I worried about how people would react to my scars. The scars on my flesh tried to scar my heart forever. But what a blessing that my parents provided such a rich and culturally saturated life for me and my four younger sisters and baby brother! As the oldest of six children, I had plenty of chores to do, and good grades to get, music and sewing lessons, religious activities, and ohhhhh..the traveling adventures we had! Touring the continent, museums, art, hiking, camping, exploring! I wish all kids could have the concentrated education and training that we had!
I began sewing at 9 years of age and developed a hunger for Vogue Designer patterns...always "embellishing" them my own way, started out as my own little haute couture designer. It has been a driving and burning passion of mine to create the most beautiful clothes ever, with a part of me trying to compensate for the shame of being disfigured. I thought, "If people notice my pretty outfit, then they won't mind the scars on my legs."
Childhood J-na after her accident on the right in one of her first hand sewn yellow "haute couture" creations.
This drive to survive and thrive really fueled this creative madness that has led me to break all the rules and leap full throttle into the art of being a haute couture designer after having spent years in company with the greats in couture fashion accessory designers!
It has been an exhilarating ride, and I must confess, very gratifying to be appreciated! This constructive mania has been a powerful therapy for my shattered self-esteem!
My near-death burning accident has given me another precious tool...the intuition to relate to and connect with others on a very deep soul level. I love people! I want them to be happy and healthy and safe..... and to live abundantly! I believe people and animals can truly sense loving vibrations, and there are degrees of intensity in that loving care. Mine must be turned up all the way, because I connect with most people immediately, and most sense that I am an understanding, non-judgmental, joyful and trustworthy person. This has led to amazing relationships, with them sharing secrets of their souls with me and saying, "I've never told anyone this, but....." It is my deepest satisfaction to keep their secrets and be trusted so!
I have enjoyed 42 years now of active community volunteer work, and teaching, speaking publicly, traveling in the glamorous adventures of a seasoned haute couture designer. Giving back is one of the greatest joys of my life, along with raising 3 amazing kids with my dearest and sweetest man in the world, my husband Josh. We are still growing and discovering new facets of each other after 33 years! How much can one human heart hold?
Much more than designing pretty clothes to cover my scarred body, my passion for fashion has led me to realize the amazing power to heal one's fragile self-worth. My message to everyone is this: Do not hold back the burning desire to follow your dreams! Nurture and protect your heart...and find friends who truly love you and will never be jealous of you and your success! Keep evolving your passion...turn up the love and joy in your life....do NOT look back, except if it makes you appreciate how and why you are who you are....forgive, hug, dance, travel, and keep growing! Who knows how much immense power and permission you will give to those around you? Be the "Rising Tide that raises all ships" and flat out refuse to ever back down! YOU can achieve your goals and dreams!
With Love and Gratitude,
P.S. I have always felt a deep connection with Coco Rocha. Her career has been such an inspiration to me! Follow her blog!
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When Amber (my older sister) was nine years old, she was burned all down the left side of her face and body. At the hospital she and my parents found out …
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