An inspiration board, used in designing for Le Chien, Fashion Week El Paseo.

Once upon a time there was a little girl. Like most little girls, she was trying to find her way.

Treatment method of 17th century mental illness.

It’s a difficult thing, being young. You know things that you’ve not been taught; you feel things you’ve never touched. It’s all a mystery to be unravelled, and you’re in such a hurry to do the unraveling! (Unlike older days when life unravels with its own spinning speed.) We land here and our job is to make the most of it, so we do.

This little girl came into life with a head full of thought-soup. Maybe that’s what twisted her spine and made her toes point in. Maybe it’s why she wrote and read backwards. Maybe it’s why she was too terrified to speak. Maybe the pains of a life before did all that; there’s so much we don’t know.

In centuries past, the disfigured survived as spectacles of curiosity, living in cages and watching the world pass. We look at that and say, how horrible, but maybe it’s our hardships that teach us empathy. We’ve all known hard times. Isn’t it best to be empowered by them instead of being a victim of them? Our empathy is our artistry and we all have an artist within. Are you ready to experience the artist of you?

The world needs its artists right now more than ever. My present medium? Words, fashion & dogs.

Fashion has the power to empower. To magically transform. It’s an instant language, a simple way of saying complicated things.

The fashion industry  shapes attitudes and social concerns. It dictates the status, image and perception individuals have about themselves, others and cultural issues. One reason I left the fashion world was because it didn’t feel like that power was being used to empower, but instead to give people a designer label to hide behind. But now, in our modern world, I love the idea of using it as a force for good!

I’m the one in the blue flowered suit, holding the Kodak Instamatic camera. Remember those, in the old fashioned days of film photography?

I started six years ago using fashion to save dogs. I made a small collection of coats, tees and hoodies, enlisted the aid of some pro photographers, and headed into the shelter to take powerfully expressive adoption photos. Hundreds of photos were taken and hundreds of dogs were saved. Now I have a full line of people matching pet attire for use in charity fashion shows, a troop of a activist dogs, and in a few weeks, a book to help spread the word!

My dream for the future? To connect with people of power who believe like I do.

We have become an isolated society filled with lonely people, hungry for face-to-face social engagement and outlets for kindness. I think people enjoy fun experiences that allow them to step outside of themselves. Where they can learn new things, test their limits, make a difference, maybe even change the world. A really cute dog in a cocktail dress that everyone fawns over gives you the power to do that. It feels like the people are fawning over you! Suddenly you’re the belle of the ball. It’s exciting. Empowering. Innocent. Sweet. Attach all that to a cause… it’s magic.